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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for June 27-July 3, 2003

In this issue:


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

1895: Schoolteacher, journalist and author Ida B. Wells married Ferdinand L. Barnett, a lawyer and newspaperman. (June 27)

1913: English professor Rodney M. Baine was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. (June 30)

1925: Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was born near Decatur, Mississippi. (July 2)

1925: Sociologist George L. Maddox, Jr., was born in McComb, Mississippi. (July 2)

1926: Frank Trippett was born in Columbus, Mississippi. (July 1)

1932: Presbyterian minister Perry H. Biddle, Jr., was born in Meridian, Mississippi. (July 1)

1933: Foreign languages professor William D. Horan was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (July 1)

1934: William Faulkner left Mississippi for a three-week assignment at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. (July 1)

1941: Richard Wright accepted the Spingam Award from the NAACP at its convention in Houston. (June 27)

1944: Educator and science writer Barrie Klaits was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. (July 2)

1944: Photographer and journalist Mary Ann Wells was born in Mississippi. (July 2)

1948: Documentarian and memoirist Edward Cohen was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (July 3)

1959: Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams was performed as a one-act play in Spoleto, Italy’s Festival of Two Worlds. (July 2)

1986: Novelist Lewis Nordan married Alicia Blessing. (July 3)

1992: A statue of assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers was erected in his honor in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was living at the time of his death in 1963. (June 28)


Faulkner Conference to focus on South’s ecology

July 20-24 meeting to feature scholars from England, Finland and France

June 28, 2003

By Deidra Jackson
University of Mississippi News Services

‘Oxford on the Hill,’ 1939, by John McCrady (1911-1968), multistage oil on canvas 33"x40", adorns this year’s Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference poster

OXFORD, Miss. — William Faulkner’s fiction is at the center of a rare ecological study during this year’s Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, July 20-24, at the University of Mississippi.

“Faulkner and the Ecology of the South” examines the relationships between the natural and constructed environments in the Nobel laureate’s fictional worlds. The 30th annual conference offers a novel look at Yoknapatawpha, the imaginary setting for many of Faulkner’s stories and novels, and “its vast system of relationships,” said Donald Kartiganer, conference director and UM’s Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies.

“We just haven’t looked at Yoknapatawpha in that way,” he said. “Faulkner’s world is deeply concerned with both the ‘green’ and ‘brown’ worlds, the natural and the built worlds, and the ‘conversation’ between them. The current study of ecology also concerns relationships within and between human communities, and Faulkner has created several such communities.

“They range from townspeople of Jefferson to the country people of Frenchman’s Bend, and also include the distinct African-American and Native-American groups,” Kartiganer said. “They are all part of the Yoknapatawpha world, part of a rich dynamic of peoples and environments.”

Since its creation in 1974, the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference has drawn scholars from throughout the world. It is one of the longest-running U.S. literary events focusing on the works of one author. Sponsored by the UM Department of English and Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the conference is coordinated by the Center for Non-Credit Education.

Kartiganer and nine other literary scholars and critics from across the United States and Europe are slated to lecture and lead discussions.

“No matter the angle of the approach, Faulkner’s work seems to rise to meet it, as the world of his fiction proves to be even more spacious and inclusive than we had imagined,” Kartiganer said.

Before July 1, conference registration fee is $150 for students, $250 for Friends of the Center and $275 for all other participants. Cost does not cover lodging, optional tours and meals. Fees increase by $25 after July 1. Only students can register for single conference sessions. On-site registration July 20 begins at 10 a.m. in UM’s Yerby Conference Center, with the opening program at 2:30 p.m. in Paul B. Johnson Commons ballroom. Lectures are in the ballroom.

Seven scholars appearing at the conference for the first time are Ann Fisher-Wirth, literary critic, poet and UM professor of English; Eric Gary Anderson, associate professor of English at Oklahoma State University; Keith Marshall, computer graphics designer, art historian and classical music critic for The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans; Mikko Saikku of the University of Helsinki, Finland; Scott Slovic, professor of literature and environment, and director of the Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities at the University of Nevada-Reno; Cecelia Tichi, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at Vanderbilt University; and Michael Wainwright, a doctoral candidate at the Royal Holloway Department of English, University of London.

Returning lecturers include Thomas McHaney, the Kenneth M. England Professor of Southern Literature at Georgia State University. He is the author or editor of seven books about Faulkner, as well as 10 volumes of the “William Faulkner Manuscripts” series.

Also returning is François Pitavy, professor emeritus of American literature at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. He is the author of several volumes on Southern literature and Faulkner, including William Faulkner’s Light in August: A Critical Casebook and, most recently, Le Bruit et la Fureur de William Faulkner.

Philip Weinstein, the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College, also returns. He is the author of four books, including Faulkner’s Subject: A Cosmos No One Owns and What Else But Love? The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison, and editor of The Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner.

Other conference events include a reading by novelist and former UM Grisham writer-in-residence Tom Franklin, author of the forthcoming book Hell at the Breech, and discussions by Faulkner friends and family. Also planned are sessions on “Teaching Faulkner,” directed by James Carothers of the University of Kansas, Robert Hamblin of Southeast Missouri State University, Arlie Herron of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Charles Peek of the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia are to be on exhibit at UM’s John Davis Williams Library. Seth Berner, a well-known collector of Faulkneriana, is to conduct a special session about collecting Faulkner.

A conference highlight on July 20 is announcement of the winner of the 14th Faux Faulkner Contest, which draws writers who try to produce, according to the rules, “one really good page of really bad Faulkner parody.” Coordinated by the author’s niece, Dean Faulkner Wells, the contest is sponsored by Hemispheres magazine/United Airlines, Yoknapatawpha Press and UM.

Other Oxford-area events for registrants include a Sunday buffet supper at historic Isom Place, open-mike night dubbed “Faulkner on the Fringe” at Southside Gallery, guided day tours of northeast Mississippi, a picnic at Faulkner’s Rowan Oak and a closing party Thursday afternoon at Square Books.

Films relating to Faulkner’s life and work are scheduled to be available for viewing during the week. “Red Hills to Gulf Shores: Autographics,” an exhibition of photographs by Todd Bertolaet, is on display in the Gammill Gallery at Barnard Observatory on campus, and the illustrations of Thomas B. Allen are to be exhibited at University Museums.

For more information, assistance related to a disability or to register for the conference, contact the Center for Non-Credit Education at 662-915-7283 or go to The center also can be contacted at P.O. Box 879, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677-1848 or by e-mail at

Other information on Lafayette/Yoknapatawpha County, Miss., is available through the Oxford Tourism Council at 800-758-9177.

University of Mississippi Journalism seeks names for 2002-03 ‘Silver Em’ Award

June 27, 2003

By Patsy R. Brumfield
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — Nominations are being accepted for the University of Mississippi Department of Journalism’s annual Silver Em award honoring an outstanding journalist with a Mississippi connection.

The most prestigious journalism award the university bestows, the Silver Em originated in 1958.

The recipient can be a print or broadcast journalist, living or deceased, whose career exemplifies the highest ideals of American journalism. Recipients include Pulitzer Prize winners and other distinguished journalists.

The award is open to a native Mississippian or anyone who has spent a significant part of his or her career in the state. Nominees do not have to be University of Mississippi alumni.

Nominations are solicited from previous Silver Em recipients, UM journalism alumni, members of the Mississippi news media, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the general public. Deadline for nominations is Aug. 15.

At a minimum, nomination letters should include a summary of the nominee’s news career and a description of his or her connection to the state, along with information on how to contact the person. Past nominees are not automatically reconsidered, but a new letter of nomination constitutes submission for the 2002-03 award.

Selection of the Silver Em recipient is by a committee drawn from the UM journalism faculty, former Silver Em recipients and representatives of the Mississippi Press Association and Mississippi Association of Broadcasters. An awards banquet is set for Nov. 6 in Oxford.

The 2002-03 Silver Em recipient is Pulitzer Prize winner Ira B. Harkey, who was vilified for his editorials urging the peaceful integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962 by James Meredith, a black man from Jackson. Others include the late Willie Morris; former presidential press secretary Larry Speakes; nationally syndicated columnists William Raspberry and Rheta Grimsley Johnson; former New York Times editor Turner Catledge; former Lexington Enterprise publisher Hazel Brannon Smith; Hodding Carter III, CEO of the Knight Foundation; and Charles Overby, chairman and CEO of the Freedom Forum. In 2001, long-time Jackson television reporter and anchor Bert Case became the first broadcast journalist to win the award.

For more information, contact Stuart Bullion in the Ole Miss Department of Journalism at 662-915-7146 or via e-mail at Mail nominations to Silver Em, Department of Journalism, P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677-1848, or fax them to 662-915-7765.

Eudora Welty as teen: Ole Miss library receives scrapbook

June 24, 2003

Rebecca Moreton of Oxford, left, examines her mother’s scrapbook with UM library archivist Jennifer Ford. (photo by Tobie Baker)

By Tobie Baker
University of Mississippi News Services

OXFORD, Miss. — Acclaimed storyteller Eudora Welty was “chief buzzard” in the Blinking Buzzards, a private society she created while a Jackson, Miss., high school student.

An invitation to join the Buzzards, never-published Welty writings and other artifacts are in a 1925 Central High School scrapbook recently donated to the University of Mississippi J.D. Williams Library’s Special Collections.

Mary Ellen Wilcox, a classmate and friend of Welty, compiled the scrapbook. Wilcox’s daughter, Rebecca Larche Moreton of Oxford, is the donor.

“This is one of several surviving scrapbooks kept by Miss Welty’s classmates," said Thomas Verich, university archivist. “It’s a charming, fascinating artifact of great detail, and quite a colorful piece.”

The fragile scrapbook was packed away in an attic until Moreton realized it should be preserved. She said one of her favorite items in the collection is a loosely styled poem, “Some Unusually Blank Verse,” dedicated to her mother and penned by Welty.

“It’s a medieval romantic spoof by Miss Eudora,” said Moreton, a retired UM French professor and alumna. “It reveals just how widely they read in high school.”

Welty and Wilcox grew up in Jackson, Miss., where they met in elementary school. The collection contains artifacts spanning their childhood—news clippings, ticket stubs and a wooden Seale Lily ice cream scoop.

Wilcox’s bid to join Welty’s Blinking Buzzards society is signed, “Eudora, Chief Buzzard.”

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

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers

Sleep No MoreSleep No More

By Greg Iles

Signet (Paperback, $7.99, ISBN: 0451208765)

Publication date: May 2003

Description from Publishers Weekly :

Iles has written some solid, beautifully constructed thrillers (24 Hours; Dead Sleep), so when his latest seems for page after page to have no logical explanation for its central mystery, we hold on, bide our time and wait for the moment of revelation that will make everything fall into place. Unfortunately, that moment never comes. The puzzle of how a woman who has been dead for 10 years can suddenly appear in the body of another woman turns out not to be a mystery at all. It’s a whole other genre horror or fantasy or science fiction.

Iles fans will certainly enjoy the way he once again brings to piquant life his home turf Natchez and the Mississippi Delta and creates a character with an actual job. John Waters is a petroleum geologist, and the details of his work are carefully rendered. He’s a happily married man of 41 with a bright eight-year-old daughter, although his sex life has all but disappeared in the wake of several disastrous pregnancies. So he’s ready to be pushed over the edge by the sudden appearance of Eve Sumner, a 32-year-old real estate agent who seems to know every intimate detail of Waters’s youthful affair with the late Mallory Candler, a mentally fragile beauty queen who was subsequently raped and murdered in New Orleans.

The game gets really serious when Eve is also murdered. Possibilities abound: John’s weak and financially reckless partner might be behind the whole thing, and even Waters’s embittered wife could be a suspect. Readers will probably stick around to see how Iles gets himself off the hook, but it’s hard to imagine many of them coming away completely satisfied. —Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

July 20-24: The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

30th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Festival: “Faulkner and the Ecology of the South.” Information and registration forms available at

August 15: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5 p.m.

Best-selling Mississippi mystery writer Greg Iles returns to sign and read from his latest suspense novel, The Footprints of God. For more information, visit

September 4: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, 5 p.m.

Dr. Ann Fisher-Wirth, University of Mississippi professor of English, will read from her collection of poems entitled Blue Window. For more information, visit

September 16: Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi

Larry Brown signs and reads from his unusual, new novel, The Rabbit Factory. For more information, visit

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.

October 16, 2003

Elmore Leonard, author of more than 30 novels (including Bandits, Get Shorty, and Tishomingo Blues), numerous film and television productions, essays and commentaries, will read and talk about his career. For more information on Leonard, visit Elmore Leonard’s new book, When the Women Come Out to Dance, is to be published in November 2003. Johnson Commons Ballroom, The University of Mississippi, 7 p.m. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English at the University of Mississippi.

February 12, 2004

Reading and lecture by Richard Ford. Johnson Commons Ballroom, The University of Mississippi, 7 p.m. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English at the University of 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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