TOP 10 Reasons to Attend 2020 VIRTUAL Signatures Author Series

Purchase Your Ticket to Log On December 4 for a One-of-a-kind Experience
UPDATE from the JCS Fine Arts Council
The 2020 Signatures Author Series will be a new and unique experience you don’t want to miss! The 16th event sponsored by Cooper’s Fine Arts Council features two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward and will be a live event that will come to you virtually in the comfort of your own home, office or favorite location. We are very excited about the possibilities this new experience brings and here’s why:
TOP 10 reasons to LOG ON to the 
  1. You will have an opportunity to INTERACT with an insightful and fascinating award-winning and bestselling author and receive a signed copy of one of her highly acclaimed books, Sing, Unburied, Sing.
  2. Are you dying to meet Jesmyn Ward in virtual person? Purchase an upper level sponsor table and you’ll be treated to a virtual VIP session where you will speak directly with Jesmyn Ward, who has some unique things to share with only you. Limited sponsorships are available, so act soon!
  3. It’s a fun, interactive online experience that can be enjoyed whether you live locally, across the state, nation or world! Simply log on!
  4. Connect with old friends by gifting them a ticket and calling or zooming with them afterwards to discuss!
  5. Purchase a table and invite friends to watch with you and have a celebration of the love of reading together!
  6. It’s a great holiday gift. Family, friends, co-workers or clients – no matter where they live - will appreciate this unique gift. 
  7. By purchasing a raffle ticket, you may win one of two trips, gifts from HGTV’s Home Town and Laurel Mercantile, a basket of signed books and a one-of-a-kind piece signed by Ms. Ward.
  8. Proceeds from each year’s event help us to bring award-winning national and international authors to our community every year.
  9. You will impact others. A portion of the 2020 proceeds will go to this year's beneficiary, Children’s Books on Wheels ( 
  10. Proceeds benefit Cooper’s fine arts programs and are distributed through the Fine Arts Council to enhance the visual and performing arts educational offerings in substantial ways; a musical playground, Black Box Theatre lighting, a grand piano and state-of-the art 3D printers are just a few examples of art enrichments, thanks to Signatures!
Most importantly, this is a new opportunity that is unique to 2020 that you simply can’t miss!

The 2020 Signatures Author Series will now be a strictly virtual event. 
Learn how the 2020 event will be a fascinating virtual experience with an impactful and interesting author as well as more great opportunities.

The John Cooper School Fine Arts Council has announced that the 16th Annual Signatures Author Series will be a virtual experience on December 4, featuring international bestselling author Jesmyn Ward.

“We feel that a completely virtual experience is the best approach for this year’s event, and we are very excited about the opportunities that going online will provide,” said Signatures Co-chair Lisa Hollingsworth. 

The 2020 virtual event also features a raffle drawing and new virtual sponsorship opportunities. A VIP Meet and Greet will be held for major sponsors and their guests prior to the keynote presentation at noon, and every guest will receive a signed book.

“The Signatures series is always a highly anticipated event and now that we’ve gone virtual, guests can attend from their own home,” said Co-chair Malin Melin. “We are very pleased to be able to expand the capabilities for people to hear Ms. Ward, whose poetic style of writing illuminates tales of hope and struggle.”

As is tradition, a portion of the proceeds from the 2020 event will go to a local charitable organization. “This is going to be a fascinating way to hold our annual literary event and we are very excited to offer an enhanced and unique experience this year,” said Cooper’s Director of Advancement Troye Skipworth. 


Frequently likened to such authors as William Faulkner and Toni Morrison, Ward’s distinctive poetic style of writing illuminates tales of hope and struggle. Her three novels are all set on the Gulf Coast.

Where the Line Bleeds was described in The Boston Globe as “a lyrical, yet clear-eyed portrait of rural South and an African-American reality that are rarely depicted.” Her subsequent novel, Salvage the Bones, is a personal story of how one family endured Hurricane Katrina, earning Ward her first National Book Award for fiction.

Sing, Unburied, Sing, published in 2018, won her a second National Book Award. Named by the New York Times as one of the Top 10 Best Books of the Year, Sing, Unburied, Sing gives an intimate portrait of three generations of a family in an epic tale. A review in Buzzfeed said, “Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief and love… this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it.”

Ward received her MFA from The University of Michigan and is currently a professor of creative writing at Tulane University. Her most recent book, Navigate Your Stars, is an uplifting book based on the 2018 Commencement speech she gave at Tulane about the value of hard work, perseverance and the importance of respect for oneself and for others.

In 2017, Ward collected essays and poems written by voices of her generation for The Fire This Time – A New Generation Speaks About Race. USA Today described the collection as “vivid proof that words are important, because of their power to both cleanse and clarify.”

Ward has had two non-fiction books published this year. She is among the writers who reflect on landmark cases of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Fight of the Century that debuted in January. The book commemorated 100 years of the ACLU.