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Oxford writer in residence gives reading

OXFORD - For the first time, students at Oxford College are getting to reap the benefits of having a writer in residence at their school.

Since January, award-winning Georgia author Mary Hood has lived on campus and taught a class on Southern literature.

"It has been a great desire of ours for a number of years to have a writer in residence," said Lucas Carpenter, an English professor at the college.

That opportunity has finally come to the college - in March, the school announced that it received a grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation to bring in its first writer in residence during the spring 2009 semester.

A committee of college faculty and administrators who helped write the grant chose Hood, a native of Brunswick and a resident of Commerce, for the program.

"She's a good pick because she's been a writer in residence elsewhere and is a very prominent Southern writer, which was part of the grant," Carpenter said. "It gives students themselves access to a prominent writer on a very personal, one-on-one level and it helps with their writing ... and knowledge of the South."

Hood, who also has been a writer in residence at the University of Mississippi, Berry College and Reinhardt College, plans to stay at Oxford College until May.

"I've always enjoyed teaching, as well as writing," said Hood, who had never been to Oxford, but her uncle attended the college. "I'm enjoying everyday learning about Oxford and Covington and the history of the school and seeing how it works ... and hearing about the Civil War connections. ... It's a very special place."

While in residence, she is teaching a class two days per week and will make herself available to other literature courses as needed.

"I teach (students) to have confidence in their own search for words that tell stories," said Hood, who writes stories about people in the South based on individuals she knows or comes across in her life. "We'll also examine ways of looking at the South in new eyes. There are a lot of people new to the South."

She will hold her first public reading at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Oxford College chapel; it is free and open to the public. She plans to read from some of her works, such as "How Far She Went" and "Venus is Blue," two collections of stories, and her novel "Familiar Heat."

She said she hopes to hold more public readings and events during her time in residence.

SideBar: If you go

· What: Mary Hood Reading

· When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

· Where: Oxford College chapel

· Cost: free

· More Information: oxford.emory.edu