March 24-30, 2000
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John Edgar Wideman
John Edgar Wideman

Callaloo pays tribute to Wideman

By Robert Brickhouse

The career and work of one of America's most widely acclaimed writers, John Edgar Wideman, will be the subject of an international symposium honoring him at U.Va. March 30 through April 1. The event is sponsored by Callaloo, the noted African and African-American literary journal published at U.Va.

Wideman, author of such highly praised novels as Sent for You Yesterday and Philadelphia Fire, will give a reading and will participate in various panels, including one on racial profiling and affirmative action, during the symposium.

Wideman's fiction and nonfiction explore layers of complexity in black urban experiences. His writing has been hailed for its vividness and eloquence, winning him, among other awards, a MacArthur Fellowship and the Pen/Faulkner Award for fiction twice.

The Callaloo symposium, open to the public, will include:

Thursday, March 30
"Virtual Lynching: Racial Profiling, Affirmative Action, Higher Education," a panel discussion, with opening remarks by Wideman. 4:30 p.m., Rotunda Dome Room

Friday, March 31
"True Fictions" 10 a.m., Rotunda Dome Room "Creative Autobiography" 2 p.m., Rotunda Dome Room A reading by Wideman. 8 p.m., University Chapel

Saturday, April 1
Wideman, with novelist Percival Everett and poet Harryette Mullen, will lead writing workshops with U.Va. and local high school students. 9:30 a.m. to noon.

The product of a vibrant, racially mixed neighborhood of Pittsburgh who later became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he writes often about his roots and has explored tragic and difficult events from his own life as gateways to larger issues. His memoir, Brothers and Keepers, was about his younger brother, who was convicted and sentenced to life in a robbery and murder case.

Wideman, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has been a visiting writer at numerous colleges and has long worked with secondary schools around the country as a writing consultant.

Callaloo, the award-winning international journal edited by U.Va. English professor Charles Rowell, recently devoted a special issue to Wideman's work.

For a complete schedule, see


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