A poet, a performance artist, a president emeritus and an iconic public broadcasting network announcer make up the fall University Forum lineup at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Designed to bring cultural events to the university and local community, this fall’s forum series kicks off Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium with a presentation by award-winning poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, titled “The World of Words: One Poet’s Journey.”
Douglas Chambers, an associate professor of history and new director of University Forum, believes audiences will be pleased with the lineup of presenters for the program.
"We’re honored to offer a range of interesting speakers and hope the larger community will join us on campus for these events,” said Chambers. “I believe our audiences will be intrigued and invigorated by what they hear and see."
A New Mexico native of Chicano and Apache descent, Baca was raised first by his grandmother and later sent to an orphanage. A runaway at 13, it was during a five-year sentence in a maximum security prison at age 21 that he recovered his life through the language of poetry.
“I don't know if I would have lived had I not found poetry,” said Baca, who through his work identifies with the land and myths that are part of his culture.
Baca is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, the National Poetry Award, the International Hispanic Heritage Award, and the prestigious International Award for his memoir “A Place to Stand.”
His other works include “The Importance of a Piece of Paper”; “Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande”; “Healing Earthquakes”; “C-Train & Thirteen Mexicans”; “Black Mesa Poems”; “Martin & Meditations on the South Valley”; and “Immigrants in Our Own Land.”
"Jimmy's personal story of overcoming a desperate upbringing and finding salvation in the written word is so inspiring,” Chambers said. “Poetry can indeed heal the soul, and Baca's success as a poet, a memoirist and a writer is proof."
Other presenters for fall University Forum include:
• Oct. 6 - Southern Miss President Emeritus Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas will speak on the history of the university Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium, in conjunction with the university’s upcoming centennial celebration. Lucas, who served as president of the university from 1975-1996 and as interim president from 2001-2002, is honorary chairman of the university’s Centennial Steering Committee.
• Oct. 20 - Former long-time announcer for Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) and noted opera and music authority William Fulton will present “The World of Opera” Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center auditorium. His presentation will be followed by performances of the operas “Pagliacci,” and “Gianni Schicchi” by the Southern Opera and Musical Theater Company. Advance tickets are required for admission to the performances. Contact the Southern Miss Ticket Office at 601.266.5418 for information on ticket prices and availability.
• Nov. 3 - Carolyn Gage, a lesbian-feminist playwright, performer, director and activist will present “The Second Coming of Joan of Arc” Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium. She is the author of more than 40 plays and musicals and a presenter of one-woman shows specializing in non-traditional roles for women, touring extensively at colleges and universities across the country.
University Forum is sponsored each fall and spring by the Southern Miss Honors College, with additional support for individual programs from other campus and outside organizations and individuals.
Supporters for this fall’s events include the Department of English; Student Activities; the College of Arts and Letters Office of the Dean and Interdisciplinary Studies Program; the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra; 206 Front restaurant; and the Southern Miss Alumni Association.
“The Honors College is absolutely delighted with the lineup for fall,” said Honors College Dean Dr. David Davies. “I'm particularly pleased that the speakers represent a continued collaboration with departments and units across campus and outside the university. Honors students, and indeed all Southern Miss students and the general public, will benefit from hearing from this terrific group.”
For more information on University Forum, contact the Southern Miss Honors College at 601.266.4533 or 601.266.4534.
Jimmy Santiago Baca
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.