September 18, 2014  

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Professor's Play Appears in Prestigious Literary Magazine

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Philip Kolin

“Emmett Till Goes Skip-Stopping on the CTA” a play by University of Southern Mississippi Distinguished Professor of English Dr. Philip Koilin, appears in the spring 2012 issue of Callaloo.

Till was one of the central figures in the American racial trauma of the last century. Kolin’s play presents him as a heroic young man eagerly looking forward to life’s adventures, but the references to shifting chronologies (back and forth from 1955 to 2008) remind audiences ironically of the cruel fate awaiting him in Money, Miss. where his horrific murder in August 1955 is often seen as igniting the civil right movement.

“Emmett Till Goes Skip-Stopping” was performed on stage at the University of Georgia in 2010 and can be read through the Project Muse database.

“The figure of Emmett Till and his sainted mother have been the subjects of numerous poems and essays I have published about them,” Kolin said. “But ‘Emmett Till Goes Skip-Stopping’ is my first foray into writing a play.”

Much of the play occurs near or on a Chicago Transit Authority L train as Emmett travels from his mother’s apartment on the southeast side to the city and around the Loop. The play’s title refers to scheduling L trains to stop or skip a station, depending on the time of day. Kolin uses that practice as a metaphor for the various chronological shifts (going back and forth between 1955 and 2000) that occur in the play. For instance, Emmett refers to Vietnam, Dr. King’s death and rap music as if they were topical in 1955.  

Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, Callaloo is  "ranked as one of the top literary magazines in the United States" along with the Paris Review and the New Yorker, according to Every Writer’s Resources, as quoted on the Callaloo web site.  

Kolin also serves as editor of The Southern Quarterly. He has published extensively on Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare and African American dramatists. His Suzan-Lori Parks in Person: Interviews, Addresses, and Poems, co-edited with Harvey Young of Northwestern University, will be published in 2013 by Routledge.