Centenary to present annual Corrington Award October 29

Charles Baxter (photo by Keri Pickett for the New York Times)

SHREVEPORT, LA — Writer Charles Baxter will receive Centenary’s John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence during a ceremony on Monday, October 29. The 7:00 p.m. event in the Whited Room in Bynum Commons includes a reading from Baxter and is free and open to the public.

Baxter is the author of five novels and several short story collections, including There’s Something I Want You to Do, which is being used as a common text in all first-year Trek courses at Centenary. This collection, published in 2015, follows a diverse group of Minneapolis citizens whose lives sometimes intersect while illuminating the common human search for love, meaning, and moral goodness.

In his letter inviting Baxter to receive the Corrington Award, Centenary professor of English David Havird explained the connection between Baxter’s work and the first-year Trek course which asks students to address the central question, “What do you value?”

“What draws us to your stories, to There’s Something I Want You to Do in particular, is their persistent concern, as you put it in an interview, with ‘what we owe each other, what our obligations are to each other,’ along with the reality, which the stories present, that ‘much of the time in our lives, we aren’t doing what we want to do; we’re performing actions that other people want us to do,’” wrote Havird. “Whether or not the way lives intersect (as in There’s Something I Want You to Do) evinces a design that gives life meaning, one thing’s for sure: the interconnectedness of life implicates us in a moral drama in which our actions and inactions matter – have mortal consequences.”

A professor at the University of Minnesota and an instructor in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, Baxter has also written two books exploring the craft of fiction. In addition to the awards ceremony and reading on Monday evening, he will spend two days visiting English 102 and Trek 115 courses during his time at Centenary, giving students a chance to discuss the big questions posed by his works first-hand.

Baxter will also hold an open hour for students and the general public on Tuesday, October 30 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Kilpatrick Auditorium.

The John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence is presented annually by the Department of English at Centenary on behalf of the Centenary student body and faculty to an established, critically-acknowledged writer. The award honors a Centenary alumnus and English major, Bill Corrington (1932-1988), who was variously an English professor, an attorney in private practice, and, with his wife, Joyce, the head writer for several television series, including Search for Tomorrow and General Hospital. A prolific poet, he also published four novels, two short novels, and three collections of short stories.

In 1991 Eudora Welty became the first recipient of the Corrington Award when she read her short story "A Worn Path" at Centenary's spring Commencement. The Award takes the form of a bronze medal designed by the internationally-exhibited Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell. The medal depicts two primitive figures, one of them slightly in front of the other, carrying a long object. A presentation box, hand-made by a local craftsperson, accompanies the medal. For more information on the Corrington Award and a full list of past winners, visit centenary.edu/corrington.


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