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Author receives 'stamp of approval'


Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Anne Porter was inspired by places near childhood home in Kyle.

Austin-American Statesman (05/15/2006)
By Miguel Liscano

SAN MARCOS—Pulitzer Prize-winning author Katherine Anne Porter spent most of her childhood in a 1,400-square-foot house in Kyle, where she found inspiration for some of her stories from a fig tree in the backyard and from a nearby watering hole.

The ship behind Katherine Anne Porter denotes her famous novel.

Today, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a 39-cent stamp in her honor, making Porter the 22nd addition to the service's Literary Arts series.

A 10 a.m. ceremony at the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center, 508 W. Center St., will include words from her nephew, Paul Porter, and Postal Service Vice President George Lopez.

Texas State University-San Marcos turned her childhood home into a literary center that hosts public readings and houses a writer-in-residence.

"It's the government putting their stamp of approval on her and her work," said Lauren Sposato, a Postal Service spokeswoman. "You really had to have put your mark on the nation."

The Literary Arts series has honored literary giants such as Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. The Postal Service will print 30 million of the Porter stamp, which features her portrait with a ship in the background to signify her famous novel "Ship of Fools."

In 1966, she won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for "The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter," tales of 20th century life told by a woman from the Southwest.

"She was a master of the short story form," said Tom Grimes, a novelist and director of Texas State University's Master of Fine Arts program. "She had a very distinctive, very clean style."

Porter was born Callie Russell Porter in the Brown County town of Indian Creek in 1890, but she moved to Kyle when her mother died two years later, according to the Handbook of Texas Online. She left Kyle after her grandmother died in 1901.

Porter lived mostly around Central Texas until 1918, when she took a job with the Rocky Mountain Newsin Denver, where she nearly died during the worldwide influenza epidemic. She moved to New York City the next year and became a ghost writer and publicist for a film company. She also started writing short stories during that time, the handbook said.

Later, she moved to Europe for about six years before returning to the United States in 1936.

In 1939, her book "Pale Horse, Pale Rider," a collection of three short novels based in Texas, won her critical acclaim. The stories featured a central character named Miranda, whose background mirrored Porter's.

Grimes said Porter gave women a voice at a time when men dominated Texas literature.

"To a large extent," he said, "all the . . . men are forgotten."