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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for September 6-12, 2002

In this issue:


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

1907: Journalist and statesman Ralph Hilton was born in Mendenhall, Mississippi. (Sep. 10)

1908: Historian Nash K. Burger was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Sep. 8)

1909: English professor Walton Richard Patrick was born in Collins, Mississippi. (Sep. 9)

1910: Christian minister W. Earl Waldrop was born in Mount Olive, Mississippi. (Sep. 8)

1916: Psychiatrist Harley Cecil Shands was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Sep. 10)

1919: Medical physiologist Arthur C. Guyton was born in Oxford, Mississippi. (Sep. 8)

1925: William Faulkner published “Country Mice” in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. (Sep. 10)

1926: Baptist minister and theologian Joe H. Cothen was born in Poplarville, Mississippi. (Sep. 8)

1927: Presbyterian minister Andrew Albert Jumper was born in Marks, Mississippi. (Sep. 11)

1928: Missionary Peggy Billings was born in McComb, Mississippi. (Sep. 10)

1930: William Faulkner published “Thrift” in the Saturday Evening Post. (Sep. 6)

1931: Political scientist Matthew Holden, Jr., was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. (Sep. 12)

1937: Economist Jerolyn R. Lyle was born in Meridian, Mississippi. (Sep. 12)

1940: Business historian Thomas K. McCraw was born in Corinth, Mississippi. (Sep. 11)

1946: Kay Pritchett, professor of Spanish language and literature, was born in Greenville, Mississippi. (Sep. 10)

1946: Fashion designer Paula Janice Johnson was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Sep. 12)

1951: William Faulkner and his wife Estelle drove their daughter Jill to Wellesley, Massachusetts, where she would enter Pine Manor Junior College. (Sep. 12)

1956: Novelist and historian Shelby Foote married Gwyn Rainer. (Sep. 6)

1956: William Faulkner went to Washington for four days as the chairman of the Writers’Group, People-to-People Program. (Sep. 11)

1989: William Miller, Democratic doorkeeper for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1976, died in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Sep. 12)

1995: Jamie L. Whitten, U.S. Congressman and author of That We May Live, died of complications of chronic cardiac and kidney disease with acute respiratory distress in Oxford, Mississippi. (Sep. 9)

2001: Band of Brothers, a ten-part television miniseries based on a book by Stephen E. Ambrose about a U.S. Army unit in World War II, premiered on HBO. (Sep. 9)


New English/Southern Studies professor brings blues scholarship into the classroom

Adam Gussow, aka Bluesman

Aug. 29, 2002

By Deidra Jackson
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — New York native Adam Gussow has no Southern accent, but he may know more about Mississippi than many of her sons and daughters.

The new assistant professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi also can play the blues out of a harmonica, as his students heard recently.

Gussow, 44, taught American, African-American and Southern literature, as well as black music, cultural studies and Beat poet Jack Kerouac during a stint as visiting assistant professor of English at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. His intense immersion into blues tradition — whose origins are firmly planted in Mississippi — is impressive.

“The blues tradition is, needless to say, thoroughly grounded in Southern lives, Southern folkways, Southern expressive culture,” Gussow said of his principal research interest. “This is just the right place to be right now.”

For 12 years the private blues harmonica instructor performed with Mt. Olive native and blues musician Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee. As co-founder of gifted Harlem juke joint blues duo Satan & Adam, he recorded three CDs and appeared on U2’s Rattle and Hum album and concert film. The twosome also played at numerous music festivals and clubs in North America and Europe.

“For some reason, the public has this misconception that English professors are stodgy or elitist. How unfortunate,” said Joseph Urgo, chair of the UM Department of English. “We’re thrilled to have him here to teach literature and topical courses based in his research on black and white cultural crossings in American literature and music. Now, in his second career, he’s assistant professor in one of the coolest departments on campus — English.”

Mississippi and blues songs are steeped in Gussow’s doctoral dissertation Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and Blues Texts, 1890-1996. In his treatise, he discusses ways in which violence shapes the blues tradition. He also shows how blues texts often were cathartic responses to the eruption of spectacle lynchings in the South during the 1890s. His revised dissertation will be published by the University of Chicago Press this fall.

“Professor Gussow brings unique training and talents to the position in English and Southern Studies,” said Charles Reagan Wilson, director of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “He studies African-American literature and knows how central it has been to any understanding of the richness of Southern culture. As a blues performer and student of the music, he promises to augment the center’s national lead in studying the blues.”

In addition to its deep south locale, the center’s innovative research activities attracted him to UM, Gussow said. Through the center’s efforts, UM’s J.D. Williams Library has acquired such holdings as the O’Neal Living Blues Collection and the B.B. King Record Archive. He also anticipates working closely with Living Blues, the bimonthly magazine of the African-American blues tradition published by the center.

Gussow said he also hopes to promote and participate in discussions about racial reconciliation. “I want to pick up where I left off, studying the origins of the blues and racial antagonism,” Gussow said. “I’m now interested in studying the reverse."

He received bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Princeton University and a master’s from Columbia University. His autobiographical first book, Mister Satan’s Apprentice: A Blues Memoir, received the 2000 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in Literature from the Blues Foundation in Memphis. He also received the 2002 Darwin T. Turner Award for the article “‘Make My Getaway’: The Blues Lives of Black Minstrels in W. C. Handy’s Father of Blues,” which recently was published in the African American Review.

His writings about Jack Kerouac, Paule Marshall, John Cheever, Alice Walker, Herman Melville and Edward Said have appeared in Georgia Review, The Literary Review, The Village Voice and other publications.

Latest issue of annual literary journal hits the stands

The Yalobusha Review returns — ‘bigger and better’ — with a larger format for graphics and photos and a ‘neat array’ of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction.

Sep. 3, 2002

By Deidra Jackson
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — An essay by renowned author and longtime University of Mississippi writer-in-residence Barry Hannah opens the latest issue of The Yalobusha Review, UM’s annual literary journal.

Twenty poems, 16 images, four short stories and three creative nonfiction works by other notable writers and artists, as well UM faculty and students, are featured in the publication’s seventh volume. Editor Joy Wilson, a Department of English graduate student from Palmdale, Calif., praised the submissions that she and her small staff culled.

“I think each page of the journal is something spectacular,” Wilson said. “It’s something you’ll want to have on your coffee table. The Yalobusha Review has something for everyone, whether they’re literary-minded or not.”

Contributors this year include past Grisham writers-in-residence novelist Tom Franklin; writer, poet, and artist Claude Wilkinson; and National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“At the risk of sounding like an advertiser, this year’s issue is bigger and better — a larger format for graphics and photos, as well as a neat array of fiction, poetry, and this year, creative nonfiction,” said David Galef, the journal’s faculty adviser and program administrator for UM’s English graduate program.

Founded in 1995, The Yalobusha Review is a collaborative effort between the UM departments of English and Art. Annually, the journal accepts poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, photography and black-and-white artwork from established and new writers and artists Aug. 15 through Feb. 15. Single issues are $10 and multiple-year subscriptions are $8.

For submission guidelines or to obtain a copy, e-mail the editor at

Barry Hannah one of first 3 to receive University of Mississippi Distinguished Faculty Fellowships

Sep. 6, 2002

OXFORD, Miss. — Critically acclaimed Mississippi writer Barry Hannah was honored again this week as one of the first three faculty members ever to receive the three-year Liberal Arts Distinguished Faculty Fellowships at the University of Mississippi.

Hannah is writer in residence in the university’s Department of English. The other two recipients are professors David Graves in chemistry and biochemistry and Alan Gross in psychology. Each receives $10,000 per year for the three years he holds the fellowship.

“These faculty members represent the best of the College of Liberal Arts, in teaching, in research and creative accomplishment, and in serving the community,” said Glenn Hopkins, liberal arts dean.

The fellowships are intended to reward and support faculty members who have developed distinguished records and who hold the rank of full professor or have held the title of writer- or artist-in-residence for at least 10 years. The annual stipends may be used by the recipients in any way they choose.

Hannah received the Robert Penn Warren Lifetime Achievement Award in fiction three years ago. He has enjoyed a national reputation since 1972, and his creative writing class is one of the most popular on campus.

“In the 20 years he has served as writer-in-residence, he has helped many students establish their own careers in fiction,” Hopkins said. “We are most fortunate to have Barry Hannah on this campus.”

Graves has a strong research record, publishing frequently in prestigious journals, Hopkins said. During Graves’ 18 years on the faculty, he has attracted more than $2 million in research funding.

“He recently was a driving force behind the creation of a bachelor of arts in biochemistry,” a program that has attracted more than 90 students to major in it, Hopkins said.

Gross is a prolific researcher with more than 150 journal articles and book chapters.

“His teaching is exemplary, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, and he has recently taken on the important position of director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology,” the dean said.

Last spring, each department in the college was asked to nominate a candidate for a fellowship. A committee appointed by Hopkins reviewed nominations and made recommendations. Recipients were announced at spring commencement ceremonies.

The Distinguished Faculty Fellowships are funded through the University Foundation, with support provided by alumni and friends and the Hardin Foundation.

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

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

Aug. 1-Nov. 4: J. D. William Library, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

“Civil Rights, Mississippi, and the Novelist’s Craft.” This exhibit highlights fictional accounts set in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, including works by Ellen Douglas, Patrick D. Smith, Elizabeth Spencer, Eudora Welty, Lewis Nordan, William Mahoney, Joan Williams, and many others. Supplementing the display of books will be correspondence, manuscripts, and related ephemera drawn from the archive’s literary collections. Located in the Hall of Mississippi Writers in the Special Collections Department, J. D. Williams Library. Open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. For more information, please contact: Leigh McWhite, (662) 915-7937,

Sep. 12: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:30 p.m.

Reading by Shay Youngblood, the latest Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi, on Thacker Mountain Radio. Musical guest will be Florence Dore, an English professor specializing in William Faulkner at New York University, who will be performing selections from her album Perfect City. For more information, visit

Sep. 19: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:30 p.m.

Reading by Whitney Terrell, author of The Huntsman, on Thacker Mountain Radio. Musical guest will be country music singer/songwriter (and Mississippi writer) Marty Stuart. For more information, visit

Sep. 25: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5 p.m.

Reading by Thomas Hal Phillips. For more information, visit the Square Books web site,

Sep. 26: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5:30 p.m.

Reading by Will D. Campbell on Thacker Mountain Radio. Musical guest will be Mississippi Delta gospel-blues artists Duff & the Revelators. For more information, visit

Sep. 27: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5 p.m.

Rick Bass will sign and read from his short story collection, The Hermit’s Story. For more information, visit the Square Books web site,

Oct. 1: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 2 p.m.

On the 40th anniversary of the integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith, author William Doyle will sign copies of An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962, which chronicles the history of that epochal event. For more information, visit the Square Books web site,

Oct. 7: Bondurant Hall Auditorium, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 7:00 p.m.

Poetry Reading by Alan Michael Parker. Respected poet Alan Michael Parker will read from his work. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English. For more information, contact the English Department at (662) 915-7687,

If you know of upcoming literary events by or about 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.

November 11, 2002

Poetry Reading by J. D. McClatchy, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

November 14, 2002

Donna Tartt, author of The Secret History, will sign and read from her long-awaited second novel, The Little Friend, at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. For more information, visit the Square Books web site,

November 16, 2002

Mary Carol Miller will sign copies of Lost Landmarks of Mississippi. For more information, visit the Square Books web site,

January 16, 2003

Poetry Reading by Tom Chandler, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

February 6, 2003

U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2002) Billy Collins reads from his poetry and offers commentary on his work and other matters. Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.

February 17, 2003

A reading by Clifton L. Taulbert on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.

March 25, 2003

Poetry Reading by Andrew Hudgins, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

March 26-30, 2003

Seventeenth Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana. For information, visit their web site at

April 10-13, 2003

Oxford Conference for the Book, Oxford, Mississippi.

July 20-25, 2003

30th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

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 of Mississippi community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:

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