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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for March 14-20, 2003

In this issue:


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

1901: Journalist Turner Catledge was born in Ackerman, Mississippi. (March 17)

1917: U.S. Air Force pilot Eddie H. Lee was born in Magee, Mississippi. (March 19)

1921: Historian David L. Smiley was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. (March 17)

1930: Texas travel writer Ann Ruff was born in Aberdeen, Mississippi. (March 20)

1933: Civil rights activist Myrlie Evers was born Myrlie Van Dyke in Vicksburg, Mississippi. (March 17)

1934: Theologian Charles H. Talbert was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (March 19)

1936: Poet James Whitehead was born in St. Louis, Missouri. (March 15)

1936: Eudora Welty’s stories “Death of a Traveling Salesman” and “Magic” were accepted for publication by Manuscript 3 (May-June 1936, 21-29). (March 19)

1937: Tennessee WilliamsCandles to the Sun premiered in St. Louis, performed by Willard Holland’s Mummers. (March 18)

1945: Food editor and writer Judith Hill was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. (March 19)

1946: Baptist minister Thomas Julian Nettles was born in Brandon, Mississippi. (March 16)

1953: Tennessee Williams’ play Camino Real premiered at the Martin Beck Theatre, New York. (March 19)

1957: William Faulkner arrived in Athens on a two-week mission for the State Department. He accepted the Silver Medal of the Greek Academy while there. (March 18)

1962: The last studio portraits of William Faulkner were taken at Jack Cofield’s studio in Oxford, Mississippi. (March 20)

1980: First telecast of Barn Burning, based on the short story by William Faulkner, on PBS-TV. The production was directed by Peter Werner with a screenplay by Horton Foote; it starred Tommy Lee Jones as Ab Snopes. Faulkner’s nephew Jimmy Faulkner played the role of Major DeSpain. (March 17)

1982: Actor James Earl Jones married Cecilia Hart. (March 15)


Poet, assistant professor Fennelly reads at Library of Congress, on ‘Voice of America’

March 10, 2003

By Deidra Jackson
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — Award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly, a University of Mississippi assistant professor of English, read her work March 5 at the Library of Congress.

She also read her work during a March 6 interview on government-sponsored Voice of America, an international broadcasting service, which weekly airs more than 1,000 hours of news, educational and cultural programs to some 94 million people worldwide.

“This marks poet Beth Ann Fennelly’s elevation to national status—the elders of American poetry, so to speak, have identified her as one of the next generation of major voices,” said Joseph Urgo, UM Department of English chair. “We in the English department made that identification when we hired her, but it takes time for Mississippi literary news to reach the (nation’s) capital.”

Fennelly joins the ranks of such poets as Robert Pinsky, Yusef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove, W.S. Merwin and Gwendolyn Brooks who have read for the program. The library’s Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature contains recordings of more than 2,000 poets.

“I feel so honored to be selected,” said Fennelly, whose book Open House won the 2001 Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry for a First Book.

Earlier this year, the Lake Forest, Ill., native won a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts grant and soon after struck a deal with New York independent publishing house W.W. Norton & Co. for her second book of poetry. And in another fortuitous career boost, her lengthy poem “Telling the Gospel Truth” appears in The Kenyon Review, which publishes works by talented emerging writers alongside more established writers.

Reading with Fennelly March 5 was Linda Gregerson, a widely published poet whose work Fennelly said she has admired for a long time. “Reading with Ms. Gregerson in front of the audience at the Library of Congress will be an honor I don't expect to duplicate or forget,” she said.

Fennelly taught at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., for two years before coming to UM to teach poetry and literary studies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Notre Dame in 1993 and then taught English in a coal mining village on the Czech-Polish border. In 1994, she returned to the United States to earn a master of fine arts in poetry from the University of Arkansas. She held the University of Wisconsin’s prestigious Diane Middlebrook Fellowship in Poetry from 1998-99.

Fennelly’s poems have been published in numerous literary reviews, and her poetry has been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize 2001: Best of the Small Presses and Poets of the New Century.

Her “Poem Not to Be Read at Your Wedding” was in Best American Poetry 1996, Penguin’s Book of the Sonnet and the writing textbook 13 Ways of Looking for a Poem.

Related Links
The Library of Congress (
Voice of America (


Mississippi State University English professor named associate arts and sciences dean

March 7, 2003

Gary L. Myers

STARKVILLE, Miss. — An English professor who helped establish the creative writing program at Mississippi State University is the new associate dean of arts and sciences at the university.

Gary L. Myers, who joined the faculty in 1989, primarily will be responsible for academic affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, which, with 16 departments ranging from art to biological sciences to psychology to physics, is MSU’s largest academic unit.

“Dr. Myers has earned the consensus respect and friendship of the college faculty and staff,” said Dean Philip B. Oldham. “His experience and leadership in the arts and humanities will ensure a healthy balance in the dean’s office.”

Recognized with the John Grisham Faculty Excellence Award, Myers directed the university’s freshman English program for six years prior to his current assignment.

An active writer, he has published more than 100 poems in magazines and journals that include, among others, the New Yorker, Poetry, Kansas Quarterly, and Louisville Review. His book World Effects earned the Stanley Hanks Poetry Award from the St. Louis Poetry Center. Another book, Lifetime Possessions, won the Riverstone Press Poetry Prize from the West Chester, Pa.-based publishing house.

Myers holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska, a master of fine arts degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop of the University of Iowa and a doctorate in creative writing from the University of Houston.

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


The following article was recently added to the Writer Listings:

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers


By Nevada Barr

Putnam (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0399149759)

Publication date: February 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly :

When it comes to a vibrant sense of place, Barr has few equals, as deliciously demonstrated in her 11th Anna Pigeon novel (after 2002’s Hunting Season), set in little-known Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles off Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. Anna takes up her new post on Garden Key, home to Fort Jefferson, a notorious Union prison during the Civil War, after fleeing a marriage proposal from just-divorced Sheriff Paul Davidson. As she goes about her duties, Anna quickly becomes ensnared in one life-threatening situation after another. Anna’s fans expect no less; all her postings somehow turn dangerous. Indeed, the contrast between the natural beauty of the landscapes and the human evils within them is a recurring theme. But this one has an added twist: a mystery concerning alleged Lincoln assassination conspirator Dr. Samuel Mudd interweaves with current crimes. In a coincidence best left unscrutinized, Anna’s great-great-great-aunt was the wife of the fort’s commanding officer, and her letters, relating a story of intrigue and murder, have surfaced. The two stories are told in alternating chapters, and only Barr’s skill keeps this familiar device fresh. The pitch-perfect 19th-century phrasing in the letters makes it easy to forgive the occasional over-the-top prose in the modern scenes. But this is a quibble. Those who already admire the doughty National Park ranger will rejoice in this double-layered story with its remarkable setting, passionately rendered; new readers have a treat in store. —Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and LegacySons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Legacy

By Paul Hendrickson

Knopf (Hardcover, $26.95, ISBN: 0375404619)

Publication date: March 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly:

“Nothing is ever escaped,” is the woeful reminder Hendrickson imparts in this magisterial group biography-cum-social history, a powerful, unsettling, and beautifully told account of Mississippi’s still painful past. Hendrickson, author of the searching Robert McNamara chronicle The Living and the Dead (an NBA finalist), sets out to profile seven Mississippi sheriffs photographed while one of their number postures with a billy club just before the 1962 riots against the integration of the University of Mississippi at Oxford (“Ole Miss”). The picture, shot by freelance photographer Charlie Moore, was published in Life magazine soon after, and it captured Hendrickson’s imagination when he came upon it decades later.

Chapter by chapter, Hendrickson reconstructs the everyday existences of the seven sheriffs, concentrating on the time of the photo, but taking his subjects through to their deaths. None are now living, but Hendrickson interviewed former Natchez sheriff John Ed Cothram in the early ’90s, and the Cothram chapters comprise a paradigmatically subtle and eerie portrait of the intelligence and banality of evil, and how it destroys individuals. The number of telling quotes, interviews with friends and family, primary and secondary sources, allusions to art and history, and gut reactions Hendrickson offers are what really make the book. He begins with a wrenching retelling of the Emmett Till lynching—seven years before James Meredith fought for and finally won admission to Ole Miss, a bloody story Hendrickson also recounts (in addition to a fascinating recent interview with Meredith himself).

The book’s final third tries to get at the legacy of Mississippi’s particular brand of segregation—the whites and blacks Hendrickson interviews throughout articulate it masterfully—by profiling the children of the men in the photo and of Meredith, with sad and inconclusive results. While Hendrickson can be intrusive in telling readers how to interpret his subjects, he repeatedly comes up with electric interview material, and deftly places these men within the defining events of their times, when “a 100-year-old way of life was cracking beneath them.” —Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Marvelous Old Mansions and Other Southern Treasures Marvelous Old Mansions and Other Southern Treasures

By Sylvia Higginbotham

John F. Blair (Paperback, $16.95, ISBN: 0895872277)

Publication date: November 2000

Description from the publisher:

Southerners have always been proud of their heritage, and there is no place where this pride shows more than the restoration of historic homes.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Southern landowners built lavish testaments to their wealth. After the Civil War, many of these once-wealthy planters found themselves struggling financially. As a result, some of these architectural treasures were lost.

Beginning in 1858 with the chartering of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, Southerners began to preserve and restore their grand homes. Organizations such as the Daughters of the Revolution, the Colonial Dames, and the Daughters of the Confederacy, as well as historic foundations all rallied to preserve what Sherman’s March to the Sea and America’s march toward progress had not yet discovered.

In Marvelous Old Mansions and Other Southern Treasures, you’ll find 132 historic homes, eight gardens, and thirteen living villages of historic districts. These sites are located throughout Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Some of the mansions were the homes of famous men such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson. Others were home to less-known men who poured their heart, soul, and fortune into their property. Certain houses may seem less grand than others at first glance, but they all played important roles in the history of their home states.

Whether you’re interested in architecture, interior decorating, antiques, and history or simply looking for a way to spend an enjoyable day, this book will expose you to some of America’s most lasting treasures.

Reflections: Homes and History of Columbus, Mississippi Reflections: Homes and History of Columbus, Mississippi

By Sylvia Higginbotham, photography by Mark Coffey

Eugene B. Imes (Hardcover, $37.50, ISBN: 0971155402)

Publication date: October 2001

Description from Columbus Historic Foundation:

It’s here! The long awaited coffee table book featuring 47 beautiful antebellum homes and cottages of Columbus.

“Columbus boasts one of the most impressive collections of historic houses in the state of Mississippi. The city also enjoys the benefit of a strong and committed community of preservationists, who ensure that these beautiful homes are preserved and protected. Sylvia Higginbotham and Mark Coffey have captured the rich history and great beauty of Columbus in this fine new book.” —Elbert R. Hilliard, Director, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

March 19: Barnard Observatory lecture hall, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 12:00 p.m.

Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture: “The Artistic Passionate Eye of Eudora Welty,” by Katherine Wiener, a Jackson scholar. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture,

March 24: Barnard Observatory lecture hall, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 12:00 p.m.

Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture: A Reading by Shay Youngblood, the John and Renee Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture,

March 25: Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 7:00 p.m.

Poetry reading and commentary by poet Andrew Hudgins, author of Babylon in a Jar and After the Lost War. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English,

March 26-30: New Orleans, Louisiana

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


If you know of upcoming literary events by or about Mississippi writers, please let us know by writing us at 


Magazine seeks submissions

A monthly area magazine published out of Natchez, Mississippi, Bluffs & Bayous, Life Along the Mississippi, covers people, events and places in southwest Mississippi and Louisiana. Local guest writers submit monthly articles. Publisher: Cheryl Morace; editors: Jean Biglane and Cheryl Morace.
1117 Main Street, Natchez, Mississippi 39120. Phone 601-442-6847, Fax: 601-442-6842, email:

Call for Papers: 2003 SAMLA Convention
Society for the Study of Southern Literature Panel

“Intersections of Race and Region: African American and Southern Literary Traditions.”

When African American works are taught in the Southern literature classroom, should race or region be foregrounded? Or do the two intertwine to the extent that one cannot be extracted from the other? Should African American texts be read strictly through the lens of the African American literary tradition? What happens when we view them as part of a Southern literary tradition: does such a view speak to the debt Southern literature owes to African American authors or does it merely articulate a politics of appropriation?

Send 250-word abstracts to Leslie Walker, Department of English, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208 by March 31.

Call for Papers: African American Confinement Literature

This is a call for manuscripts on African American Confinement Literature. African American confinement literature is defined as works—autobiographies, novels, short stories, and poems—that are set either entirely or partly in a place of confinement and which tell of African Americans’ experiences with incarceration. Places of confinement are spaces in which persons are required
by law to reside for a prolonged period of time. The focus of this collection will be with literature set in American prisons, but comparisons of this literature with other forms of confinement -- cultural, mental, social, and/or spiritual are encouraged.

Possible comparisons include:

  • Slavery as imprisonment
  • Jim Crow as social confinement
  • Imprisonment during Civil Rights Movement

Suggested texts:

  • Richard Wright, Native Son
  • Nathan McCall, Makes Me Wanna Holler
  • Malcolm X, Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Gayle Jones, Eva’s Man
  • Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice
  • Ernest Hill, A Life for a Life

Please send brief proposals to Manuscripts of twenty pages are due no later than June 1, 2002. Please submit by mail or e-mail in MS Word 2000. MLA documentation format required.

Editor: Tara T. Green, Ph.D., Department of English, Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA, 70813, Fax: 225-771-2015, Phone: 225-771-2870 ext. 305.

University Press adds ‘dollar store’

The University Press of Mississippi has opened its Super Sale to the Internet with a new feature—Your Dollar Store—offering stay-at-home shopping convenience and discounts. Visit it online at

Send your Mississippi writer-related announcements to


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

April 10-13, 2003

Oxford Conference for the Book, Oxford, Mississippi. Program and registration information available online at

July 20-24, 2003

30th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi. Information and registration forms available at

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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