2018 Festival

Highlights

The Mississippi Book Festival bounded past the 7,000 attendance mark for the first time in its four-year history. About 7,600 people flocked to the State Capitol complex on Saturday to hear from 240 authors, buy books, get them signed, hobnob with fellow fans and celebrate the written word. The festival’s 2017 edition drew about 6,400 attendees. The kickoff celebration for the daylong literary lawn party honored Mississippi authors. The first two markers of the new Mississippi Writers Trail, recognizing the work of Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, were unveiled to onlookers’ cheers and standing ovations in a poignant ceremony at the festival’s start. Packed crowds squeezed into the sanctuary at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church to hear moving insights by Ward, the whip-smart exchanges of Jon Meacham and Karl Rowe, and the engaging words of Salman Rushdie as he shared a journey from his Bombay roots to a lunch in London with Eudora Welty. Rick Bragg held listeners in his grip, yanking them along on the wild ride of stories from his Alabama upbringing. Children sat rapt as teen actress/author Quvenzhané Wallis read excerpts from her book series on the Capitol lawn in a session so packed, organizers added another one to accommodate the interest. This year, 200-plus volunteers kept the festival on track, as 160-plus authors tackled a spectrum of topics on 40-plus official panels at the Capitol and Galloway church. An additional 84 authors and artists populated Authors Alley. Music, 14 food trucks and 13 independent book sellers fed a festive appetite for entertainment, sustenance and the written word.

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Video

Panels

Activities

KICK-OFF

Festival Kick-Off

Presented by Mississippi Arts Commission

Celebrating the Mississippi Writers Trail and unveiling of markers

Join us as we set the 2018 Mississippi Book Festival in motion and unveil the first two markers of the Mississippi Writers Trail. Acclaimed and influential writers throughout the state will be honored with historical markers along the Mississippi Writers Trail and we are thrilled to unveil those recognizing the significant work of Eudora Welty and Jesmyn Ward. Many state leaders, friends and family will be there to help celebrate this milestone. Partners in this historic achievement include the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Community Foundation for Mississippi, Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Book Festival, Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Library Commission.

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Waxing Poetic with the Pros

Presented by University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers and University of Mississippi MFA Program

Some of the region’s most talented poets explore language and a broad range of topics including love, loss and landscape.

  • Catherine Pierce, Associate Professor & Co-Director of Creative Writing at Mississippi State University and author of The Tornado is the World, MODERATOR
  • Angela Ball, Talking Pillow
  • Ann Fisher-Wirth, Mississippi
  • T. R. Hummer, Eon and After the Afterlife
  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Oceanic
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For the Love of It

Presented by The Source by BankPlus

Whether it’s stories of connection or betrayal, these fiction writers examine relationships both fused and fractured.

  • Sara Lewis, Associate Editor, Oxford American, MODERATOR
  • Alexia Arthurs, How to Love a Jamaican
  • Johnnie Bernhard, How We Came to Be
  • Tiffany Quay Tyson, The Past Is Never
  • Margaret Bradham Thornton, A Theory of Love
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Teaching Welty

Presented by the Mississippi Humanities Council

Led by noted Eudora Welty scholar Suzanne Marrs, this panel is based on a volume of scholarly essays about new approaches to teaching the work of Welty at all educational levels.

  • Suzanne Marrs, Welty scholar and author of Eudora Welty: A Biography, MODERATOR
  • Mae Miller Claxton, Conversations with Ron Rash
  • Julia Eichelberger, Tell About Night Flowers: Eudora Welty’s Gardening Letters 1940-1949
  • Ebony Lumumba, Teaching the Works of Eudora Welty: Twenty-First-Century Approaches
  • Pearl McHaney, A Tyrannous Eye: Eudora Welty’s Nonfiction and Photographs
  • Harriet Pollack, Eudora Welty’s Fiction and Photography: The Body of the Other Woman
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Race and Identity, One Year After Charlottesville

Presented by Virginia Wilson Mounger

These writers, scholars and legal historians examine how we talk about race and identity one year after the Charlottesville riots.

  • W. Ralph Eubanks, Visiting Professor of English and Southern Studies, University of Mississippi, and author of The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South, MODERATOR
  • Jabari Asim, The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t and Why
  • Sheryll Cashin, Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy
  • Imani Perry, May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem

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Angie Thomas: Kidnote

Presented by the Phil Hardin Foundation, the de Grummond Collection and the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival

Jackson’s own Angie Thomas shares her ride to the top with best seller and soon-to-be feature film, The Hate U Give.

  • Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
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In the Southern Kitchen

Presented by Beard and Riser

James Beard Award winner Martha Foose dishes with some of the South’s most celebrated chefs.

  • Martha Foose, restaurateur, chef, storyteller, and author of My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen with Asha Gomez, MODERATOR
  • Elizabeth Heiskell, What Can I Bring? Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up
  • Susan Puckett, Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen with chef Eddie Hernandez
  • Mark C. Stevens, Cooking with Spices: 100 Recipes for Blends, Marinades and Sauces from Around the World
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Bookshop Scoop

Presented by Lemuria Books

The inside scoop straight from the sales floor about what’s hot, what’s not and everything in-between.

  • Valerie Walley, Divisional Director, Penguin Random House, MODERATOR
  • Karen Hayes, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
  • Tim Huggins, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
  • Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS
  • Bob White, Sundog Books, Seaside, FL
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Mississippi’s Got Game

Presented by Wise Carter

Mississippi sports legends kick around iconic stories from on and off the field.

  • Sid Salter, Chief Communications Officer, Mississippi State University, and author of Jack Cristil: Voice of the MSU Bulldogs, MODERATOR
  • Jack Carlisle, Cactus Jack: Against All Odds
  • Jim Carmody, Jim Carmody, Big Nasty: Mississippi’s Coach
  • Paul Lacoste, Lacoste: Living Life at the Next Level
  • Steve Robertson, Flim Flam: The Truth Behind the Blind-Faith Culture that Led to the Explosive NCAA Investigation of Ole Miss Football
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Southern Fiction and Redemption

Presented by University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers and University of Mississippi Department of English

Four contemporary fiction writers discuss characters living life on the margins of today’s South.

  • Mary Miller, author of Always Happy Hour: Stories, MODERATOR
  • Jonathan Miles, Anatomy of a Miracle
  • Jamie Quatro, Fire Sermon
  • Michael Farris Smith, The Fighter
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Our Nation’s New Melting Pot Cuisine

Presented by Mississippi State University

Southern Foodways Alliance Director John T. Edge and chef, author and Mind of a Chef host Edward Lee discuss flavors and forays into the new melting pot cuisine.

  • John T. Edge, Director of Southern Foodways Alliance and author of Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, MODERATOR
  • Edward Lee, Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting Pot Cuisine
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American History

Presented by Mississippi Library Commission

Random House Executive and publishing insider Todd Doughty moderates an epic discussion about sprawling American topics related to great cities, states and seas.

  • Todd Doughty, Vice President, Executive Director of Publicity, Random House, Inc., MODERATOR
  • Jack E. Davis, The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea
  • Gary Krist, The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles
  • Andrew Lawler, The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke

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A Conversation with Rick Bragg

Presented by The Clarion-Ledger

Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg in conversation with investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell.

  • Jerry Mitchell, Investigative Reporter, The Clarion-Ledger, MODERATOR
  • Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table
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Southern Writers on Writing

Presented by Cornerstone Consulting Group, Inc.

Southern writers share how and why they write and explore the notion of a southern voice, based on their own essays that appear in Southern Writers on Writing.

  • Susan Cushman, Editor of Southern Writers on Writing, MODERATOR
  • Jim Dees, The Statue and the Fury: A Year of Art, Race, Music and Cocktails
  • W. Ralph Eubanks, The House at the End of the Road:The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South
  • John M. Floyd, Dreamland
  • M. O. Walsh, My Sunshine Away
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Hope (Nation) and Other Four-Letter Words

Presented by the James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation

Young Adult’s hottest authors discuss writing their conscience in an oppressive, alienated climate, moderated by educator/advocate Rose Brock.

  • Rose Brock, Editor of Hope Nation, MODERATOR
  • Becky Albertalli, Leah on the Offbeat
  • Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
  • Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything
  • Nic Stone, Dear Martin
  • Julie Murphy, Puddin’
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Julia Reed Under the (Garden &) Gun

Presented by the Community Foundation for Mississippi

Author/humorist Julia Reed dishes candidly with Garden & Gun’s David DiBenedetto about the magazine’s nuanced or out-loud showcase of the authentic South.

  • David DiBenedetto, Editor of Garden & Gun and author of S is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco
  • Julia Reed, South Toward Home: Adventures and Misadventures in My Native Land
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Mississippi Civil Rights History

Presented by the Mississippi Humanities Council

A panel’s chilling, intimate focus on the civil rights movement’s harsh realities in the state is facilitated by Mississippi Civil Rights Museum director Pam Junior.

  • Pam Junior, Director of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, MODERATOR
  • Eric Etheridge, Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders
  • Jane Hearn, A Past That Won’t Rest: Images of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi
  • Stephanie Rolph, Resisting Equality: The Citizens’ Council, 1954-1989
  • Brenda Travis, Mississippi’s Exiled Daughter: How My Civil Rights Baptism Under Fire Shaped My Life

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Picture This!

Presented by Sara and Bill Ray

Led by Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi, this collection of children’s authors and illustrators celebrate the vital, enduring and delightful Picture Book – the gateway to literacy for all ages.

  • Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi, MODERATOR
  • Jabari Asim, A Child’s Introduction to African American History
  • Bethany Hegedus, Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Irene Latham, Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship
  • Don Tate, Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth
  • Charles Waters, Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship
  • Kenneth Wright, Lola Dutch
  • Sarah Jane Wright, Lola Dutch
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Life’s Great Mysteries

Presented by Margaret & Bob Montgomery

Don’t miss the chance to hear some of the hottest mystery writers unpack all the beguiling elements of a thriller.

  • John M. Floyd, author of Dreamland, MODERATOR
  • William Boyle, The Lonely Witness
  • Stephen Mack Jones, August Snow
  • Michael Kardos, Bluff
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A Conversation with Jesmyn Ward

Presented by the Mississippi Humanities Council

Jesmyn Ward is one of the most celebrated authors today. Just named as Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People, she will talk about her body of work as well as her thoughts on our state and nation with her dear friend, Scott Naugle.

  • Scott Naugle, Chief Operating Officer, BXS Insurance, and Co-Owner of Pass Christian Books
  • Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing
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Jon Meacham in Conversation with Karl Rove

Presented by Tenax Aerospace, Butler Snow, and Mississippi Humanities Council

Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham and political strategist Karl Rove discuss the state of American politics and overcoming division and fear.

  • Jon Meacham, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels
  • Karl Rove, The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters
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National Civil Rights History

Presented by Louisa Dixon and Jerry Johnson

Moderated by former CBS news correspondent Randall Pinkston, this national civil rights panel gets up close and personal to explore social justice, racial activism and black liberation.

  • Randall Pinkston, Broadcast Journalist, MODERATOR
  • Janet Dewart Bell, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Sheryll Cashin, Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy
  • Anne Farris Rosen, Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist
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Unbridled Books and the National Literary Scene

Presented by Mississippi State University

An inside look at the ups and downs of publishing and the relationship between a national literary publisher and two of its award-winning authors.

  • Steve Yates, Associate Director, University Press of Mississippi, and author of The Legend of the Albino Farm, MODERATOR
  • Elise Blackwell, The Lower Quarter: A Novel
  • Greg Michalson, co-publisher, Unbridled Books
  • Fred Ramey, co-publisher, Unbridled Books
  • Steve Yarbrough, The Unmade World: A Novel
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Meet Me in the Middle

Presented by the de Grummond Collection and the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival

A kids’ panel rides a roller-coaster overview of top reads for the middle school set.

  • Clara Martin, Manager of Oz Books at Lemuria, MODERATOR
  • Kate Beasley, Lions and Liars
  • Varian Johnson, The Parker Inheritance
  • Veera Hiranandani, The Night Diary
  • Charlotte Jones Voiklis, Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters
  • Merrill Wyatt, Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen
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Southern History

Presented by Mississippi State University, USM School of Humanities and USM Center for the Study of the Gulf South

A broad and provocative look at how race, culture, economics and criminal injustice have affected the South from the 19th century to the present.

  • Daphne Chamberlain, Assistant Professor of History, Tougaloo College, MODERATOR
  • Tucker Carrington, The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist
  • Lisa M. Corrigan, Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation
  • Gene Dattel, Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure
  • T.K. Thorne, Last Chance for Justice

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Mississippi Publishers Roundtable

Presented by BKD CPAs & Advisors, JSU English/MFL/Speech and in memory of Dr. Jean Chamberlain

The state’s premier publishers discuss the business of making books with insights and details for aspiring authors.

  • Jim Ewing, journalist and author of Redefining Manhood: A Guide for Men and Those Who Love Them, MODERATOR
  • James L. Dickerson, Publisher, Sartoris Literary Group, and author of Colonel Tom Parker: The Curious Life of Elvis Presley’s Eccentric Manager
  • Craig Gill, Director, University Press of Mississippi
  • Joe Lee, Owner and Editor-in-Chief, Dogwood Press, and author of 40 Days
  • Larry Wells, Publisher, Yoknapatawpha Press
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Inside American Politics

Presented by Congressman Gregg Harper and Capitol Resources

Moderated by former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, this panel takes an in-depth look at the election of Donald Trump and the shifting American electorate.

  • Haley Barbour, MODERATOR
  • Alan Abramowitz, The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump
  • Salena Zito, The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics

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Best Bets in Historical Fiction

If “the past is never past,” where lies its future in fiction? These keen writers explore yesterday’s South.

  • Katy Simpson Smith, author of Free Men: A Novel, MODERATOR
  • Minrose Gwin, Promise
  • Nathaniel Rich, King Zeno
  • Kent Wascom, The New Inheritors
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Salman Rushdie: The Welty Lecture

Presented by the Eudora Welty Foundation

Writer/visionary/social commentator Salman Rushdie highlights his own start in the writing game, in a heartwarming, engaging lecture.

  • Holmes Adams, Chairman of the Eudora Welty Foundation, INTRODUCTION
  • Salman Rushdie, The Golden House: A Novel
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Mississippi in the Middle

Presented by the de Grummond Collection, the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival and University of Mississippi MFA Program

Mississippi-rooted middle grade authors discuss how their children’s fiction embodies courage, friendship, mystery and self-discovery.

  • Augusta Scattergood, author of Making Friends with Billy Wong, MODERATOR
  • Jimmy Cajoleas, Goldeline
  • Jo Hackl, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe
  • Deborah Wiles, A Long Line of Cakes
  • Linda Williams Jackson, A Sky Full of Stars
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Grant and Lincoln

Presented by Mississippi State University and Taggart, Rimes & Graham, PLLC

Top scholars weigh the significance of Ulysses S. Grant’s and Abraham Lincoln’s leadership and the importance of their presidencies today.

  • Frank J. Williams, author of Lincoln as Hero, MODERATOR
  • Charles W. Calhoun, The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant
  • John F. Marszalek, The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant: The Complete Annotated Edition
  • Jonathan W. White, Lincoln on Law, Leadership, and Life

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True Crime

Presented by First Commercial Bank

Non-fiction authors prove life is stranger than fiction with mind-boggling, true stories about murder, mayhem and life on the edge.

  • Charlie Spillers, author of Confessions of an Undercover Agent: Adventures, Close Calls, and the Toll of a Double Life, MODERATOR
  • Radley Balko, The Cadaver King and The Country Dentist
  • Karen L. Cox, Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race and the Gothic South
  • Miriam Davis, The Axeman of New Orleans: The True Story
  • George Malvaney, Cups Up: How I Organized a Klavern, Plotted a Coup, Survived Prison, Graduated College, Fought Polluters, and Started a Business
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Southern Music

Presented by Cathead Distillery and Delta Center for Culture and Learning

As diehard fans of and contributors to the history and legacy of Southern music, these panelists will hit a high note with lovers of the South’s authentic music: blues, gospel, folk, rock and more!

  • Scott Barretta, blues journalist, historian and contributor for Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris, MODERATOR
  • William Ferris, Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris
  • Robert Gordon, Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown
  • Jim O’Neal, Charley Patton: Voice of the Mississippi Delta
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Delta Dawn and Dusk

Presented by BKD CPAs & Advisors and Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area

Authors explore real-life stories and the realities of race, economics and sense of place in the Mississippi Delta.

  • Rolando Herts, Director of Delta State University’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning, MODERATOR
  • Yvette Johnson, The Song and the Silence: A Story About Family, Race, and What Was Revealed in a Small Town in the Mississippi Delta While Searching for Booker Wright
  • Ellen Meacham, Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi
  • Julian Rankin, Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta
  • Catherine Egley Waggoner, Realizing Our Place: Real Southern Women in a Mythologized Land
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Conserving Mississippi History

Presented by Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Nautilus Publishing

Landmark conservation efforts, politics, racial divides and postscripts to the past are all part of a dynamic history still unfolding.

  • David Crews, Clerk of Court for the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Mississippi and author of The Mississippi Book of Quotations, MODERATOR
  • Marion Barnwell, Fannye Cook: Mississippi’s Pioneering Conservationist
  • Dr. Richard deShazo, The Racial Divide in American Medicine: Black Physicians and the Struggle for Justice in Health Care
  • Josh Foreman, Hidden History of Jackson
  • David Sansing, The Other Mississippi: A State in Conflict with Itself
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