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Southern Miss Center for Writers Inspiring a New Generation of Literary Giants

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 05:45pm | By: Ashlea Maddox

Andrew Milward

The University of Southern Mississippi was well represented by its Department of English at the inaugural Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson Aug. 22. Attended by more than 3,500 literary enthusiasts, the festival featured celebrated writers such as John Grisham and Bill Ferris. Guests visited exhibitor tents on the grounds of the Capitol and attended presentations at the festival, which was a weekend feature on C-SPAN.

Considering the state's rich, literary history, the festival was a success. Welty, Faulkner, Williams, Morris and other legendary Mississippi writers were surely there in spirit, inspiring a new generation of writers from Southern Miss and across the state.

Faculty and alumni of the Center for Writers, the creative writing program in the Department of English, participated in standing-room-only sessions. Assistant Professor Andrew Malan Milward was a featured participant in a panel discussion about short stories. His latest book, I Was A Revolutionary, was released in August by Harper Collins.

Alumnus Richard Boada, author of The Error of Nostalgia, participated in a panel about poetry while alumnae Mary Miller participated in a panel about today's Southern fiction. Miller wrote The Last Days of California in 2014. Alumnus Michael Farris Smith, author of Rivers, moderated a session titled “Crossing Borders: Across Literary Boundaries.”

Dr. Maureen Ryan, interim dean for the College of Arts and Letters, said the Center for Writers at Southern Miss is one of the top-ranked creative writing programs in the country.  “The Center's faculty and graduates continue the strong tradition of story-telling that flourishes in the famously rich literary ground of Mississippi,” Ryan said.

A gem of the College of Arts and Letters at Southern Miss for more than 40 years, the Center for Writers has graduated and hosted many celebrated fiction writers and poets like those featured at the Festival. For more information about the Center for Writers, visit