Chestertown, MD, March 14, 2007 — Washington College welcomes acclaimed poet and memoirist Mary Karr, New York Times best-selling author of The Liars' Club and other works, to kick off the annual Sophie Kerr Weekend with a lecture/reading at Norman James Theatre on Friday, March 23, at 5 p.m.
"Spitfire," "devotedly irreverent" and "elegantly devastating" are just some of the phrases that have been used to describe author Mary Karr. Her first memoir, The Liars' Club, depicts a wild, eccentric Texas upbringing. A highly influential work, it is credited with reviving the memoir as a creative literary form. The Liars' Club won the PEN Martha Albrand Award for best first nonfiction and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year and was a "Best Book" for more than 30 newspapers and magazines.
The sequel, Cherry, about Karr's adolescence, was a bestseller for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle. It was a "Best Book" for those periodicals and The New Yorker, where it was excerpted.
Karr's poetry has won prizes from Best American Poetry and Pushcart. To date, she has had four poetry collections published, the most recent being Sinners Welcome (Harper Collins, 2006). Her poems appear in such magazines as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry and Parnassus.
In her Washington College appearance, Karr will read from her works and present a talk titled "Truth, Lies and the Craft of Memoir." A booksigning will follow.
Held every March at Washington College, the Sophie Kerr Weekend gives a group of 100 high school-age writers a chance to experience the College's renowned creative writing program through readings, seminars and small-group workshops with visiting authors and faculty members.
The Sophie Kerr Weekend also honors the legacy of the late Sophie Kerr, a writer from Denton, Md., whose generosity has enriched Washington College's literary culture. When she died in 1965, Kerr left the bulk of her estate to Washington College, specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most "ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor"—the famed Sophie Kerr Prize—and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships and to help defray the costs of student publications.
Admission to Mary Karr's March 23 presentation is free and open to the public.