Celebrated New Author on Statewide Tour to Appear at American Jazz Museum

Stephanie Powell Watts’ First Book Published by BkMk Press of UMKC

Author Stephanie Powell Watts, whose stories about African American country life in her native North Carolina have received major national attention, will read from her work at 7 p.m., Monday, June 18, at the American Jazz Museum’s atrium. Her story collection We Are Taking Only What We Need (published by Bk Mk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City) was one of two finalists for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the nation’s premier award for first books of fiction.

Publishers Weekly calls Watts’ book “an impressive debut,” and Booklist describes her as “a talent to watch.” The book has also drawn praise from the Oxford American, Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News-Observer and Asheville Citizen Times. The John Gardner Fiction Award, the Chautauqua Prize for Fiction, and ForeWord Book of the Year also recently recognized Watts’ book as a finalist.

Watts teaches at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Prior to completing the Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia, she was a Jehovah’s Witness minister, a shoe-string-factory worker, and a food service and office worker. This fall, she will appear at the Cork International Short Story Festival in Ireland.

UMKC cosponsors for the reading include New Letters, Mark Twain Creative Writing Workshop, the Black Studies Program, and the Bernardin-Haskell Fund at the College of Arts & Sciences. Support for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. New Letters originally published one of the book’s stories that was later anthologized in Best New Stories from the South. Watts will lecture at the Mark Twain Workshop Monday morning.

Watts’ tour of Missouri will also take her to Left Bank Books in St. Louis June 17 and Columbia Public Library June 19. For a media review copy of We Are Taking Only What We Need, please contact Ben Furnish at BkMk Press, furnish@umkc.edu or (816) 235-2558.

About BkMk Press

Founded in 1971, BkMk Press has been a part of UMKC since 1983. BkMk concentrates on publishing collections of poetry, short fiction and creative essays. Publishing roughly six titles a year, BkMk Press has more than 125 titles in print. BkMk Press established the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize in 2002 to honor the memory of Chandra, a writer and longtime faculty member at UMKC. Financial assistance for BkMk Press is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; by UMKC, and by private donations.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit www.umkc.edu. You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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