This Goodly Land

Dennis Covington (October 30, 1948–present)

Alabama Connections

Selected Works

Literary Awards

Biographical Information

Dennis Covington was born and raised in Birmingham, Ala. In his teens, he began struggling with depression and substance abuse problems. Covington attended the University of Virginia, where he studied fiction writing and earned a BA degree. After graduation, he served in the US Army and was stationed at Fort Polk, La., working as a court reporter for a legal unit. After his discharge, Covington enrolled in the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, earning an MFA in the early 1970s. While there, he wrote short stories and started working on a novel. Upon his return to Birmingham, he taught college English courses and acted in plays at the Birmingham Festival Theatre. In 1976, he separated from his first wife and went to Wooster, Ohio, to teach at the College of Wooster. He married his second wife, Vicki, in 1977. The couple returned to Birmingham the following year, and he began teaching at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In 1983, Dennis Covington went to El Salvador as a war correspondent, making twelve trips there over a period of six years. Lizard, the novel he had begun at the Writer’s Workshop, was published in 1991. In the early 1990s, Covington wrote articles for The New York Times as a special correspondent. One of these articles caused him to become interested in the Pentecostal Christian practice of snake-handling. His book on the subject, Salvation on Sand Mountain, was published in 1995. Covington has also published a second novel and two more nonfiction books, one of them, co-written with Vicki, about their marriage. In 2004, he left the University of Alabama at Birmingham to become Professor of Creative Writing at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock.

Interests and Themes

Dennis Covington writes novels for young adults and autobiographical nonfiction.

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Reference Book Chapters and Encyclopedia Entries

Photo courtesy of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University.

Last updated on May 30, 2008.

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