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Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2020 Award Winners Include USM Alumnus, Graduate Student

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 10:33am | By: David Tisdale

A University of Southern Mississippi (USM) alumnus and one of its graduate students are recipients of a Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters (MIAL) 2020 award for excellence in works published, performed, or shown in the previous year. Winners are selected by out-of-state judges who are specialists in their fields.

The awards are usually presented at a gala banquet held in different venues around the state, but this year’s celebration has been postponed until 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 health crisis. The works of these winners clearly demonstrate that storytelling in all its styles, genres, and variations is alive and well in Mississippi.

*C.T. Salazar of Columbus, Mississippi, is the Poetry recipient for his collection, This Might Have Meant Fire. Salazar is a Latinx poet and translator. He received his BA and MA degrees from Mississippi University for Women and is pursuing an MA in Library and Information Sciences with an emphasis in Archiving from USM. He was a children’s librarian for four years and currently serves as senior librarian at the Columbus Air Force Base. He is editor-in-chief of Dirty Paws Poetry Review. His poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Grist, Tampa Review, Noble Gas QTRLY, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Matador Review, among others.

*The winner in Classical Music Composition is Steve Rouse of Louisville, Kentucky, for The Bird, the Bee, and the Bear. Rouse also won MIAL awards in this category in 2009, 2013, and 2019. He was trained as a modernist composer but prefers freedom to compose whatever he chooses without boundaries or restrictions and loves to integrate diverse styles. A Moss Point, Mississippi native, he began composing and improvising at age five. Prior to college, he played bassoon in Gulf Coast Symphony for four years. He earned a BM degree from USM, and MM and DMA degrees from the University of Michigan. He has been a professor of music composition at the University of Louisville School of Music since 1988. His many awards include the Rome Prize, a Meet the Composer residency, an NEA Composition Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. For more information about the MIAL 2020 award recipients, visit