What does a great supporter of writers and the writing profession look like? You are looking at one right now.
Practically an institution in Memphis, Tennessee, where she resides, Frances Brinkley Cowden is editor of Grandmother Earth and Life Press, a small publishing company that she founded in 1993. Local poets praise her and Christian writers adore her.
As editor/publisher of Grandmother Earth and Life Press, she has done the layouts for 15 books and numerous other promotional projects. She has conducted writers’ conferences for the past three years.
Frances is author of several poetry books including View from a Mississippi River Cotton Sack, Etchings across the Moon and Of Butterflies and Unicorns. She edited Voices International, a quarterly literary magazine for three years when she lived in Piggott, Arkansas. She has published and edited an annual literary magazine, Grandmother Earth, for seven years; and has edited two collections of children’s writings, To Love a Whale and Windows to the World. Other collections she edited include: Our Golden Thread, Toward Imagery and Form, and Angels: Messengers of Love and Grace.
Cowden is back teaching art in Memphis City Schools after over five years of retirement. During those years she built her publishing company and worked with The Memphis Arts Council teaching creative writing in Memphis area schools. She has taught English and Art and is a Career Ladder III teacher.
Cowden has served on the board of the following and was President of all but one and served as newsletter editor of PST and NLAPW (Chickasaw Branch) for over ten years in each organization: The Poetry Society of Tennessee, Memphis City School Art Teachers Association, National League of American Pen Women (arts and letters member), Memphis Association of Craft Artists. She served as local and district officer of the United Methodist Women and taught Bible studies in her church. In 1989, she was named Poet Laureate of the Poetry Society of Tennessee. 1999--Named Honorary Member of the Poetry Society of Tennessee. 1999--Woodlawn Award for Excellence in Poetry given by the Cookeville Creative Writers Association to one poet each year. 2000-- Purple Iris Award given to a business women for contributions to the community by the National Organization of Business Women in Memphis and Her Business News and other Memphis Businesses. She was featured as one of 50 ‘Women Who Make a Difference’ by Memphis Woman Magazine in the July, 2001 issue. She has won state, regional and national awards in poetry, including the Louisiana Award in 1999 given by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Her work has been published in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. She was born on June 30, 1939 in Mississippi County, Arkansas, is married to Coy Dean Cowden. The mother of four children, she has three sons who have businesses in the Memphis area and a daughter who is an attorney. There are 25 grandchildren. She and her husband are members of Colonial Park United Methodist Church.
Frances, I understand that you are a great promoter of writing talent in the
has been an evolving thing. I have volunteers who help me. They include
Patricia Smith, who is Editor of Grandmother Earth and Frances Darby, who is
the Editorial Assistant. We are basically non-profit though not legally.
The writer’s conference started when I attended a Christian Writers
Conference that was way too expensive. I figured I knew people that could
put on an event that was less expensive and more rewarding.
can also get information on the web. If you have a question that needs to be
addressed on the web, let me know. A copy can be ordered on the site.
We have good workshops, a chance for individual critique and fellowship. We have a national contest and a contest that is open only for those who are attending the conference. This includes a newcomer’s award. New writers have a chance to talk to published writers. The keynote address is a highlight. It includes someone who has published nationally. The first year it was Phyllis Tickle. Often it is a minister who has published a book. So far, everyone has been pleased and inspired.
don’t you come? It is August 4th at Colonial Park United Methodist Church,
from Mississippi County, Arkansas and graduated from Wilson High School and
Arkansas State University. I wrote much about my childhood in View
from a Mississippi River Cotton Sack. I used to sit on my
partially filled cotton sack and make up stories. I had to work in the
fields as a child. This was before the cotton picker and right at the end of
the time when farm labor was expected of all rural children. I also had a
place in the attic where I wrote stories when I could escape there. I was
the oldest of six children and I had to find a hiding place to hear myself
First Place, Mid-South Poetry Festival, 2000, Forthcoming in Tennessee Voices
I read an article on the Internet that was posted in reference a tragic accident you were involved in, where a boy on a motorcycle struck your car and was killed. You wrote an inspiring book about the incident. Please share a bit of that, if you can?
You are referring to Our Golden Thread. I felt very led to compile a book about grief. I asked people from all walks of life to contribute and received entries from professional writers as well as people in my church. All of this time, about four years, I was not sure what I would write about since I had all of my immediate family including Mother, Father, and all five brothers and sisters and their families. I had lost my grandmother who had been a lifelong inspiration. I thought that would be my only contribution to the book until God underlined II Corinthians 4:4 ...
then realized that I had been in denial about the grief of dealing with the
accident and the death. I had let that grief deny me joy for over thirty
Since we have limited resources, we only publish those works that connect to the themes we are trying to promote. We publish the prize-winning work in our national contest and then choose from the other finalist those poems and prose pieces, which represent what we consider to be the best.
What project are you excited about working on presently?
I have been working on a book about prayer, Person to Person to God, which is similar to Our Golden Thread in that there will be a variety of contributors. I will have more of my own writing in this book. Prayer is a very difficult topic to write about, but so important.
What do you see as the future for your site and yourself in particular?
back into teaching junior high art for about three years so there is no
telling what might happen. I will have less time, but more money to devote
to literary endeavors.
You can order any of Mrs. Cowden’s works and those of other Mid-South writers on her webpage at: www.grandmotherearth.com
Contact Frances Brinkley Cowden at email@example.com
© 2001 Robert L. Hall, All Rights Reserved