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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for March 8-14, 2002.

In this issue:


The following events all happened during this week in Mississippi history.


1803: The town of Port Gibson, Mississippi, is established. (March 12)

1849: Eliza Jane Poitevant (Pearl Rivers) was born in Gainesville, Mississippi. (March 11)

1926: Reuben G. Davis married Helen Dick. (March 9)

1933: Poet, lecturer, and management consultant James A. Autry was born in Memphis, Tennessee. (March 8)

1954: Children’s book writer Jim McCafferty was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. (March 12)

1959: Tennessee Williams’ play Sweet Bird of Youth premieres in New York at the Martin Beck Theatre. It runs for 383 performances. (March 10)

1967: Anne Moody married Austin Straus. (March 9)

1991: Poet Etheridge Knight died of lung cancer in Indianapolis, Indiana. (March 10)



Unique Faulkner portrait donated to University of Mississippi library

February 27 , 2002

By Tobie Baker
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — A one-of-a-kind portrait of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner has been donated to The University of Mississippi.

One of six known paintings created from the same photograph of Faulkner in his red riding gear, the artwork is the smallest of all and the only one signed by both the photographer, Col. J.R. Cofield, and the artist, Laucene Clements.

The 13.5-by-11-inch portrait, circa 1969, was given to the University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library by Oxford resident Ann Rayburn. It hangs in the library’s Special Collections.

University archivist Dr. Thomas Verich assessed the portrait as “the most important image we have added to the collection in more than 20 years.”

With the donation, the University now owns three of the six original Faulkner portraits. One hangs in the University of Mississippi Chancellor’s Office and another at Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s historic home, which was purchased by the university in 1972. Another, damaged in a fire at the Cofield Studio, hangs at Square Books in Oxford. Yet another was done for the West Point Military Academy, and the remaining copy is in a private collection.

Established in Oxford in 1928, the Cofield Studio was used first by Faulkner in 1931 when he needed a portrait to help promote his new book Sanctuary. He sat for his last portrait there in March 1962.

Rayburn has made other donations to the library, including movie posters, post cards, Victorian valentines and sheet music. “Mrs. Rayburn has been very generous to Special Collections,” said librarian Jennifer Ford.


Turn Faulkner reading into literary adventure

February 28 , 2002

By Elizabeth Kelly
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — Nobel laureate William Faulkner’s fabled home, Rowan Oak, may be closed for renovations, but perhaps you’d still like to visit Oxford, stroll the grounds or find it a good time to read — or re-read — some of his work.

Although Faulkner’s prose is notorious for being difficult to comprehend — on the first try, at least — there are ways to make reading Faulkner more enjoyable, according to Drs. Joseph Urgo and Donald Kartiganer, University of Mississippi English professors and Faulkner scholars.

“There is more than one way to read, just as there is more than one way to eat,” says Urgo, who chairs the Department of English. “Just as one snacks on potato chips with a set of expectations different from when dining on a gourmet meal, there is more than one way to have written words act on one's mind.”

Urgo suggests that modern styles of journalism and pulp fiction have misled many of today’s readers into thinking that all reading should produce immediate factual comprehension. He offers the following approaches for pleasurably digesting the words of Faulkner:

  • Don’t worry too much about comprehension. For example, when you pick up a book like Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and you read: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting...” it will be hundreds of pages and hours of reading before you fully comprehend the meaning of the line, Urgo says. Faulkner’s writing asks us to suspend our need to understand and to surrender ourselves to the experience.
  • Don’t worry about feeling confused. Sometimes being off-balance is where Faulkner’s prose wants to put you. Don’t be surprised if you sense a need to read the piece again to know it well. This is something we are able to return to again and again, always getting more or different experiences.

Kartiganer, the Howry Chair in Faulkner Studies at Ole Miss and organizer of the University’s annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, offers this advice:

  • Focus on the history of the Yoknapatawpha saga. Many of the characters who inhabit Faulkner’s fictitious county appear in more than one book. Read the novels in the order of the histories they tell rather than in the order in which the books were written, says Kartiganer. Start with The Unvanquished, then move to Flags in the Dust for the story of the Sartoris family. Turn to The Sound and the Fury, followed by Absalom, Absalom! for the tale of the Compson family. Go Down Moses offers the McCaslin history in one volume.
  • Be aware that Faulkner is a “vertical” writer. One way of describing his narrative style is to say that it is not horizontal but vertical. Faulkner doesn’t sweep the reader forward with a rapid, page-turning flow but rather asks the reader to dive downward into the multi-significant and detailed ramifications of action.

Reading Faulkner is definitely worth the time, says Urgo. “Faulkner is the greatest American writer of the 20th century — not because the world needed to know about northern Mississippi but because of his use of the English language. The marriage of Faulknerian prose and prosaic Mississippi resulted in a writer to whom subsequent writing in English will be indebted forever.”

Rowan Oak, which is administered by the University, is expected to reopen for tours in July. The surrounding grounds remain open to the public from dawn to dusk daily.

Do you have a news item about a Mississippi writer? Please send your information to


The following articles were recently added to the Writer Listings:

NEW BOOKS from or about Mississippi

Faulkner A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work
By A. Nicholas Fargnoli and Michael Golay
Checkmark Books (Paperback, $17.95, ISBN: 0816041598)
Publication Date: December 2001


One of the greatest and most influential American writers, William Faulkner is remembered for novels and short stories that explore the intricate culture and tragic legacy of the American South. William Faulkner A to Z is the first comprehensive reference to his life, including writings, characters, people, events, and ideas that influenced him as a person and a writer.

More than 1,500 cross-referenced entries include synopses of Faulkner’s fiction, poetry, and nonfiction; descriptions of characters in Faulkner’s fiction; details about his family, friends, colleagues, and critics; real and fictional places important to Faulkner’s life and literary development; and ideas and events that influenced his life and works.

On William Hollingsworth, Jr.
By Eudora Welty
University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $20.00, ISBN: 1578064872) Publication date: March 2002

Description from the publisher:

Welty’s graceful, appreciative essay about one of the South’s notable painters.

William Hollingsworth, Jr., and Eudora Welty were Mississippi contemporaries who began their careers in the arts almost simultaneously. Just as the Great Depression struck the nation, both were finishing their educations in big cities — Welty at Columbia University in New York, Hollingsworth at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This keepsake book uniting these two acclaimed Mississippi artists and their work gives the pleasure of encountering Welty as an art critic and of meeting an astonishingly talented painter she admired.

In 1958, after seeing a large posthumous exhibition of his paintings at the Jackson Municipal Art Gallery, Welty wrote this critical appreciation. It appeared in the Clarion-Ledger, the local newspaper, and has never been reprinted until now.

Accompanying Welty’s essay are full-color plates of eleven Hollingsworth paintings she mentions or to which she makes reference. An afterword puts the work of Hollingsworth and Welty in the context of time, place, and circumstance. A chronology shows how Hollingsworth was a rising star whose life was cut short.

As young Mississippians who had been schooled away from home, they returned to Jackson during hard times but were afforded a serendipitous gift — a sense of place that became a resource for their art. Although both longed to connect with the mainstream of the art world in the North, Hollingsworth and Welty discovered the significance of regional roots.

A great American writer, Welty had a career that lasted for nearly seventy years. Hollingsworth’s lasted for only one decade. He died in 1944 at the age of thirty-four. She died at the age of ninety-two in 2001. Two of his watercolors that she bought in the 1930s still hang in her home.



The following articles and web pages about Mississippi writers and writing are available on the Internet:

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

March 19: University Museums Auditorium, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 4:00 p.m.
Liberal Arts Faculty Forum: “Discovering Tennessee Williams’ Mississippi Delta.” Dr. Colby Kullman, professor of English, explores the “landscape” of Tennessee Williams’ delta roots and examines the writer’s fictional world. For more information, call Dr. Ken McGraw at 662-915-5192.

March 19: Bookends, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, 5:30 p.m.
Carolyn Haines will sign her latest novel, Splintered Bones.

March 20: Lemuria, Jackson, Mississippi, 5:00 p.m.
Carolyn Haines will read from her novel Splintered Bones, with a signing to follow at 7 p.m..

March 21: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:30 p.m.
Clinton, Mississippi, resident Nevada Barr will return to Square Books in Oxford this time on Thacker Mountain Radio, with her newest novel, Hunting Season. It’s the tenth book in the Anna Pigeon series. Anna investigates the murder of a man at a Natchez Trace tourist spot. The show starts at 5:30 p.m.

If you know of upcoming readings and appearances by Mississippi writers, please let us know by writing us at



The following events are planned for the coming weeks and months. You may wish to begin planning now to attend or participate.

March 26, 2002
Edward Cohen will sign the new paperback edition of his memoir, The Peddler’s Grandson: Growing Up Jewish in Mississippi (Bantam Dell) at Lemuria Tuesday, March 26, from 5:00-6:00 P.M. The book won Mississippi’s top nonfiction awards in 2000, from the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters and the Mississippi Library Association. It’s a two-time selection of Book Sense, the recommendations of independent booksellers nationwide. Earlier that day, he will speak and sign at the Warren County Vicksburg Public Library at noon

March 27, 2002
Edward Cohen will speak to the Lee-Itawamba Library Book Luncheon Group in Tupelo at noon, the Ole Miss Honors Program at 3:00, and at Square Books in Oxford at 5:00 to read from his book The Peddler’s Grandson: Growing Up in Jewish in Mississippi.

April 3, 2002
Lecture: “Yoknapatawpha 2001: Town & Country.” Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series presentation by University of Mississippi students in a documentary fieldwork class. 12:00-1:00 p.m., Barnard Observatory lecture hall, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture,

April 5, 2002
Richard Ford returns to Square Books in Oxford with a new collection of short stories, A Multitude of Sins. 5 p.m.

The Ninth Oxford Conference for the Book
April 11-14, 2002
The University of Mississippi and Oxford, Mississippi

Complete details are now available at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture web site,

Interhostel: “Views from the South: Literature, History, and Art”
April 21-26, 2002
E. F. Yerby Conference Center, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi
Short-term academic program for individuals 50 and older (with accompanying spouses or adult companions of any age). Sponsored by the Institute for Continuing Studies. Fee: $845 (includes five nights hotel accommodations, meals, classes and extracurricular activities). Sponsored by: UM Institute for Continuing Studies. For more information, please contact: Lynne Geller at 662-915-7282; or email:

April 27, 2002
Children’s book writer Laurie Parker will give a reading at Square Books in Oxford from her new book, The Turtle Saver. It’s the story of a man who stops on the Natchez Trace to move a turtle off the pavement and ends up setting off a hilarious chain of events.

The 29th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference:
“Faulkner and His Contemporaries”

July 21-26, 2002
The University of Mississippi, Oxford

Conference and registration information is now available on the web at the

If you know of additional news items for this newsletter or if you have suggestions, please write us at

For more information about events in the Oxford and University, Mississippi Community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:

The Mississippi Writers Page is online at

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