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Film Oct. 1 highlights life of writer Elizabeth Spencer

BOONE—Writer Elizabeth Spencer and film producer Sharon Swanson will be at Appalachian State University Oct. 1 for three screenings of the film “Landscapes of the Heart: The Elizabeth Spencer Story” and to talk about her work. The programs are presented by the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and the Black Banjo Project.

Spencer, now 91, spent time growing up in the N.C. mountains and returned to teach creative writing at UNC Chapel Hill. She continues to reside in Chapel Hill.

The documentary film offers a window into an author’s life and work, viewed through the prism of her Southern lineage, according to the film’s website. It features archival photography and film clips, re-enactments and interviews with many of today’s most important writers of the American South.

The film will be shown at 12:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union’s Beacon Heights Room. Swanson will comment on the film and answer questions.

At 3:30 p.m., Spencer will read from her new book of short stories and discuss the craft of writing and Southern and Appalachian writing. Her presentation will also be in the Beacon Heights Room.

At 7:30 p.m. prior to the film screening, Seth Swingle, a Fulbright musician to Mali, will perform a mini concert on banjo, ngoni and the 21-string liquid Kora.

Three years before “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Spencer authored “The Voice at the Back Door,” one of the earliest novels recounting racial tension in the South. Her early works are now viewed as among the most important literature from a female writer of the 1950s and 1960s. She also authored the novella “The Light in the Piazza,” which was adapted into a 1962 film.

“Landscapes of the Heart” shares the story of a remarkable literary career and a courageous woman, still writing today, whose books and stories about race, class, gender and politics continue to inspire.

About her work, author Eudora Welty wrote, “It has never been doubted that Elizabeth Spencer knows the small, Southern, backwoods hill town down to the bone. This she transforms by the accuracy of her eye and ear, talent and a certain prankish gaiety of spirit into a vital and absorbing novel.”

The film was recently selected for viewing at the La Femme International Film Festival in Los Angeles Oct. 17-20.

For more information about Spencer and the film, visit http://www.elizabethspencerwriter.com and http://elizabethspencerdocumentary.org.

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