Acclaimed Authors and Artists Headed to Tulsa for “Celebration of Books”

TULSA (July 29, 2010) – Dozens of the country’s finest authors and artists, including three Pulitzer Prize winners, acclaimed poets, playwrights and novelists and even the First Lady of Rockabilly, will visit Tulsa in September for the Celebration of Books.

The Celebration will kick off with “An Evening with Sue Monk Kidd and Michael Cunningham” at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24. The festivities continue on Saturday, Sept. 25 with a day of panel discussions, writing workshops, live interviews and book signings at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa.

The event is presented by the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at -Tulsa. Teresa Miller, executive director of the Center, said the event is designed to honor and celebrate the invaluable contributions of literature to our culture and society.

“Ultimately the Celebration is about more than just having a great time with authors and books,” Miller said. “We truly believe that through reading, that through a free exchange of ideas, we can broaden our thinking, enlarge our hearts and build a better community.”

This year’s Homecoming Award will be presented to Kidd, author of “The Secret Life of Bees” and “The Mermaid Chair.” The award honors writers originally from the south and southwest who have distinguished the region through their writing.

“The Secret Life of Bees” tells the story of a young girl who runs away with her African-American housekeeper in 1964 in South Carolina and the sanctuary they find in the home of three beekeeping sisters. It has sold more than 6 million copies, spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list and has been published in 35 countries.

Her newest book, “Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story,” was co-authored by her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. It has also appeared on numerous bestseller lists.

Cunningham, an acclaimed novelist and author of short stories and screenplays, will also speak Friday evening. He may be best known for his Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, “The Hours,” which became an Academy Award-winning film starring Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep. His other novels include “Specimen Days,” “A Home at the End of the World,” and “Flesh and Blood.”

Saturday’s presentations will begin at 9 a.m. with Rich Fisher’s public interview of Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, on the anniversary of her first day at Little Rock High School in 1957. The group of nine students made civil rights history by attending the school, escorted on their first day by 1,000 members of the U.S. Army.

Poet and author Rita Dove will receive the Ambassador’s Award at 1 p.m. The award honors authors of international stature whose works reach beyond cultural boundaries.

In 1993, Dove was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States and consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, making her the youngest person and the first African-American to receive those honors. She has received numerous literary and academic honors, including the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Writing enthusiasts will enjoy workshops and presentations by Rita Dove, S.E. Hinton, Rilla Askew, Hannibal Johnson, anchor Jim Lehrer, Kristen and P.C. Cast, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, Billie Letts, Connie Cronley, Barry Friedman, Jeff Martin and Pulitzer Prize winner Beth Henley; and a publishing forum with New York literary agent Marly Rusoff.

Additional highlights include John Wooley’s interview with music legends Jim Halsey and Wanda Jackson. Halsey’s career spans more than 60 years as a successful artist manager and agent, guiding the careers of some of country music’s most well-known personalities. Jackson, who was born in Oklahoma, is known as one of the first popular female rockabilly singers and a pioneering rock and roll artist. She’s known to many as the First Lady of Rockabilly with hits including “Tears Will Be The Chaser for Your Wine,” A Woman Lives for Love” and “Fancy Satin Pillows.”

Tickets for the entire Celebration, including “An Evening with Sue Monk Kidd and Michael Cunningham,” are $45 and may be purchased by calling 918-594-8215. Full-time teachers and students may attend the Saturday sessions for free, but still need to register.

Tickets for “An Evening with Sue Monk Kidd and Michael Cunningham” may be purchased separately for $20 by calling 918-596-7111 or visiting

For a full Celebration schedule, visit the Oklahoma Poets and Writers website at

Updated 07-29-2010

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