Wyoming Arts Council

Connie May Fowler will serve as judge for WAC creative writing fellowships

fowler pr photo colorThe judge for this year’s creative writing fellowships in creative nonfiction is Connie May Fowler

Connie May Fowler is a bestselling storyteller who believes in the transformative power of language. “Speak or write the words down, and the world becomes a clearer place,” she says. “Sometimes it even changes the world.” In her fiction she explores the effects of poverty, child abuse and domestic violence, the lush landscape of her native Florida, the conflict between traditional cultures and the modern world, and the universal human need for relationships.

Fowler draws upon her own family’s long history of struggle and tragedy in her affecting and unvarnished storytelling. Born in North Carolina and raised in St. Augustine, Florida, she was the child of two alcoholics. She was six when her father died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving Fowler and her sister with their physically and emotionally abusive mother. Despite extreme poverty and abuse, Fowler was an excellent student and earned a scholarship to the University of Tampa. In Fowler’s freshman year, her mother died of cirrhosis, a devastating loss despite their difficult relationship. Writing became a kind of salvation for her, a way to make sense of her past hardships and to turn them into something positive and useful.

Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina, said this about Fowler’s writing: “The questions Fowler asks are the ones we all ask: What is the meaning of one human life? How do we cope with loss, sorrow, or with our deepest fears? Where she takes us is not to mourning but to celebration.”

Fowler is an award-winning novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter. Her most recent novel, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, was published by Grand Central Publishing in 2010. Fowler is the author of six other books: five critically praised novels and one memoir.  Her novels include Sugar Cage, River of Hidden Dreams, The Problem with Murmur Lee, Remembering Blue and Before Women had Wings. Fowler adapted Before Women had Wings for Oprah Winfrey for an Emmy-winning film.

In 2002, she published When Katie Wakes, a memoir that explores her descent and escape from an abusive relationship. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, London Times, International Herald Tribune, Japan Times, Oxford American, Best Life, and elsewhere. For two years she wrote “Savoring Florida,” a culinary and culture column for FORUM, a publication of the Florida Humanities Council.  In 2007, Connie performed in New York City at The Player’s Club with actresses Kathleen Chalfont, Penny Fuller, and others in an adaptation based on The Other Woman, an anthology that contains her essay “The Uterine Blues.” Her new project is an environmental memoir that explores the psychological and spiritual effects of the Gulf oil disaster.

From 2003-2007, she served as the Irving Bacheller Professor of Creative Writing at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. She travels the country teaching writing workshops and speaking on topics such as writing, self-employment in the arts, literacy, domestic violence, child abuse, environmental issues, and popular culture.  She serves on the faculty of The Afghan Women’s Writing Project and is a faculty member in the Vermont College of Fine Arts low-residency creative writing MFA program. Her web site is www.conniemayfowler.com.

At the Casper College Literary Conference in Casper Sept. 13-14, 2013, Connie May Fowler will read from her work together with the fellowship winners. She also will conduct a conference panel.

Applications are being mailed to the WAC literary mailing list this week. Postmark deadline is June 20, 2013. To access a printable form online, go here. For more information, contact Michael Shay, 307-777-5234 or mike.shay@wyo.gov, or visit the WAC web site at www.wyomingartscouncil.org.

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