Nationally-Honored Alumna Author To Provide Public Talk Oct. 4

A nationally recognized author and UNC Charlotte alumna will continue her visit at UNC Charlotte on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 with a public lecture and classroom visits.

Stephanie Powell Watts started her visit on Oct. 3 with a workshop with students.  She guided students through a writing exercise, disucssed her writing process and provided tips on writing submissions to journals and other publications.

She will read from her fictional writings on Oct. 4 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Denny Building, Room 120. The public is invited. Parking is available in nearby campus decks for a nominal fee. Support for her visit is provided by the Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund, the Honors College and the Department of English.

An English faculty member at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University who teaches fiction and creative non-fiction, Watts grew up in Caldwell and Wilkes counties and earned her English degree from UNC Charlotte in 1997. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, where she was a Gus T. Ridgel fellow.

Watts2Watts was named one of two Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award finalists earlier this year for her debut short story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need (BkMk Press.) This award is considered the country’s most important prize for a first work of fiction. She also was a finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Award, USA Book News, and ForeWord Reviews.  The book earned a place on the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award longlist.
The story “Unassigned Territory” earned the prestigious Pushcart Prize in 2007, one of the greatest literary honors.

Her stories have been included in New Stories from the South: Best of the Year, 2007 and 2009. One story was named a 2007 Distinguished Story in Best American Short Stories, edited by Stephen King. Her short fiction, poems and essays also have appeared in Oxford American, New Letters, African American Review, Tartts IV, Tampa Review, and Obsidian III.

Watts3With her North Carolina roots, Watts explores the themes of the South, family and religion. Watts is a former Jehovah’s Witness who also worked in shoestring and furniture factories, and she draws from these and other experiences in her stories. Watts and her husband Bob Watts wrote a community column for the Charlotte Observer in the mid-1990s. She has recently completed a novel, which is not yet published.