Skip to author’s last name:
Elliot Ackerman is the author of the novels Dark at the Crossing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Green on Blue. His writings have appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories. He is both a former White House Fellow and Marine, and served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. He divides his time between New York City and Washington, D.C.
Charlie R. Braxton is a noted poet, playwright and cultural critics from Mississippi, the land where the blues begin. He is also one of the leading hip hop journalists of the 1990s. His feature articles, essays and reviews on various aspects of hip hop culture have appeared in top publications such as Beatdown, 4080, Blaze, The Source, Rap Pages, One World, Rime Magazine, Code of the Street (UK), The Pound (Canada), Bbarak Magazine (Czech Republic), One More Robot (Ireland) Rap Sheet, Vibe, XXL, Scratch and Murderdog Magazine. Charlie has written extensively about East Coast, West Coast and Mid-West hip hop, including cover stories on Biggie Smalls, Too $hort, Tupac Shakur, Westside Connection and The Fugees. He is best known for his groundbreaking work on Southern hip hop, chronicling the genre’s rise in the late 90s and early 2000s. During this period Braxton writings played a key role in covering Southern artists like Master P, Pastor Troy, Cee-Lo Green, Juvenile, Young Buck, Lil Jon, Ying Yang Twins, Outkast, Killer Mike, David Banner and countless others on a national level. As a cultural critic, Braxton has appeared in a number of documentaries and talk shows that examine the state of hip hop culture and Black music in general, two of the most notable are the documentaries, The Dirty States of America which aired on MTV and Electric Purgatory: the Plight of the Black Rocker that aired on the Ovation Network. He has also appeared on BET, CNN, BBC’s Radio One and Netflix. In 2012, Braxton co-authored the book, Gangsta Gumbo (Camion Blanc Press, 2012), a history of Southern Hip hop with French writer, Jean-Pierre Labarthe. The book was published in France. In addition, Braxton has written book reviews for The Washington Post, The L.A. Review of Books, Art Today St. Louis, Valley Voices Literary Journal, The Hattiesburg American and The Clarion Ledger. By connecting Southern hip hop to the broader history of Southern music, Braxton played a key role in helping the world to understand the beauty of the modern-day Southern culture.
As a political commentator, Braxton’s work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Vibe, Image Magazine, Bet.com and BK Nation.org. He also the 2019 recipient of the Margaret Walker Alexander For My People Award for his outstanding contribution to African American Arts and Letters.
Charlie Braxton is also the author of three volumes of verse, Ascension from the Ashes (Blackwood Press 1991), Cinder’s Rekindled (Jawara Press 2013) and Embers Among the Ashes: Poems in a Haiku Manner (Jawara 2018). His poetry has been published in various anthologies including, Trouble the Water edited by Jerry Ward, In the Tradition edited by Ras Baraka and Kevin Powell, Step Into a World edited by Kevin Powell, Roll Call edited by Tony Medina, Soulfires edited by Rohan Preston and Daniel Widerman, Fertile Ground edited by Kysha N. Brown and Kalamu ya Salaam, and Bum Rush the Page: The Def Jam Poetry Anthology edited by Tony Medina and Louis Reyes. In addition, his poems have appeared in numerous literary publications such as African American Review, Cutbanks, Drumvoices Review, Black Magnolias, The Minnesota Review, The San Fernando Poetry Journal, The Black Nation, Massiffe, Candle, Transnational Literary Magazine, Eyeball, Sepia Poetry Review, Specter Magazine and The San Fernando Poetry Journal.
Charlie Braxton has written two plays. His first play, Artist Doesn’t Live Here Anymore was mounted by The Acting Company of Tougaloo in 1984. His second play, Bluesman has been anthologized in the book, Mississippi Writers: Reflections on Childhood and Youth Volume IV, Edited by Dorothy Abbott, University Press of Mississippi (July 1, 1991).
Nancy K. Bristow is a professor of history at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where she is also the Chair of the History Department, a founding member of the African American Studies Program, and a member of the Leadership Team of the Race and Pedagogy Institute. She is the author of three books, Making Men Moral: Social Engineering During the Great War (NYU Press, 2006), American Pandemic: Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (Oxford University Press, 2012), and Steeped in the Blood of Racism: Black Power, Law and Order and the 1970 Shootings at Jackson State College. An award-winning teacher, she has also provided historical commentary through outlets ranging from The Guardian, The Nation, and TIME Magazine to NPR and PBS.
Cassandra King Conroy is an award-winning author of five novels, a book of nonfiction, numerous short stories, magazine articles, and essays. She has taught creative writing on the college level, conducted corporate writing seminars, and worked as a human interest reporter.
King’s first novel, Making Waves has been through numerous printings since its release in 1995. Her second novel, the New York Times bestseller The Sunday Wife, was a Booksense choice; a Literary Guild and Book-of-the-Month Club selection; a People Magazine Page-Turner of the Week; Books-a-Million President’s Pick; Utah’s Salt Lake Libraries Readers’ Choice Award nominee; and a South Carolina Readers’ Circle selection. As one of Booksense’s top discussion selections, The Sunday Wife was selected by the Nestle Corporation for a national campaign to promote reading groups.
The Same Sweet Girls was the national number one Booksense Selection on its release in January 2005; a Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild selection; and spent several weeks on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Both The Sunday Wife and The Same Sweet Girls were nominated for Southern Independent Booksellers Association’s book of the year award. A fourth novel, Queen of Broken Hearts, set in King’s home state of Alabama and released March 2007, became a Literary Guild and Book-of-the-Month Club Selection as well as a SIBA bestseller. The fifth novel, Moonrise, was a SIBA Okra Pick and a Southern Booksellers bestseller, as was her book of non-fiction, released in 2013, The Same Sweet Girls Guide to Life. Most recently, King has been writing for Coastal Living and Southern Living as well as contributing essays to various anthologies. Her new book is a memoir, Tell Me a Story: My Life With Pat Conroy and it was released from William Morrow on October 29, 2019.
The widow of acclaimed author Pat Conroy, Cassandra resides in Beaufort, South Carolina, where she is honorary chair of the Pat Conroy Literary Center.
Ellen Rodgers Daniels opens the next chapter in her forays into the heart of Mississippi culture. This Rolling Fork native brings a curious mind and a keen eye to the task, honed from her dozen years as a bookseller at Lemuria, her work as a gallery assistant at Fischer Galleries and her fine art photography, which has been shown in galleries throughout the Southeast.
A native of Holly Springs, Mississippi, Roy is the Executive Director and one of the founders of the Hill Country Project. He was active in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, first as a Freedom School student (whose teacher was Hill Country co-founder Aviva Futorian) and then as a general organizer. Roy earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Brandeis University in 1970. Continuing his education at Brandeis, he went on to earn a Masters and later a Doctorate in Political Science. He has also pursued additional studies at Jackson State University, Duke University, Carnegie-Mellon University, the University of Michigan and Harvard. Roy is certified to teach at the high school level, and has extensive administrative management experience. Roy believes firmly in education and strongly in a collaboration among education, human service, faith-based organizations and the business community. He also works to expand parent, community, alumni and business support for higher education.
Active in many community, civic and professional organizations, Roy has received numerous awards and has been cited for outstanding achievements and contributions. Roy recently retired as Vice President for Economic Development and Local Governmental Affairs at Jackson State University. During his administrative tenure at Jackson State, he also served as Executive Vice President and Vice President of External Relations. He has a wife, Rubye and one daughter, Aisha Isoke.
Tim Fielder is an Illustrator, concept designer, cartoonist, and animator born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and raised in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He has a lifelong love of Visual Afrofutuism, Pulp entertainment, and action films. He holds other Afrofuturists such as Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, Pedro Bell and Overton Lloyd as major influences. He has worked over the years in the storyboarding, film visual development, gaming, comics, and animation industries for clients as varied as Marvel Comics, The Village Voice, Tri-Star Pictures, to Ubisoft Entertainment. He also works as an educator for institutions such as the New York Film Academy and Howard University. Tim hopes to push forward with his art in the emerging digital content delivery systems of the day. His project, Matty’s Rocket, is a product from his company Dieselfunk Studios. Tim also is the author and illustrator of the upcoming graphic novel, ‘INFINITUM: An Afrofuturist Tale’, published by HarperCollins Amistad in January 2021. Tim makes an empty nest with his wife in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Harlem.
Robert W. Fieseler is the winner of the 2020 Columbia Journalism School First Decade Award, the 2019 NLGJA (National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association) Journalist of the Year and a debut nonfiction author. He currently lives with his husband and dog in New Orleans. He graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing.
Fieseler’s essays and feature stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and recognized in roundups of best nonfiction by The Atlantic. He writes about marginalized groups and overlooked people who make the world better for themselves. As such, his heroes tend to be exiles and outcasts seeking their own strange forms of freedom.
As a little boy in flat flat Chicago, Fieseler’s favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz, and he thought he lived in Kansas. He loved the Wicked Witch and melted everywhere he could, including one time in the middle of Cook Country traffic court when his mother was disputing a ticket. Now, he owns an opinionated Cairn Terrier – same breed as Toto – who accompanies him to the library. Perhaps unsurprisingly to his mother, Fieseler grew to be a proud gay American.
Gilbert Ford holds a BFA in illustration from Pratt Institute and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author-illustrator of How the Cookie Crumbled and The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring, which is a Best STEM Book of the year, and has illustrated many New York Times-bestselling middle grade jackets, as well as the award-winning picture book Mr. Ferris and His Wheel. His debut middle grade novel he wrote and illustrated is called The Mysterious Messenger, hitting the shelves in summer of 2020.
Bruce Golden, LMS (born in Mississippi; refuses to leave)
Golden has worked in the Jackson Public School System for over 25 years—10 years as a middle school science teacher and the last 15 years as a librarian. He moved from the library at Peeples Middle School to the library at the Power Academic and Performing Arts Center (APAC) at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. He received the Carroon Apple award for 2018. (The School Libraries Section of MS Library Association selects and presents the Carroon Apple Award for the purpose of recognizing outstanding accomplishment in the field of school library media services. The award seeks to recognize the professional legacy begun by Barbara Carroon in this area of school librarianship.)
His current position at Power also affords him the opportunity to integrate his career interests as a musician. He has been a performing member of the Mississippi Symphony orchestra for 40 years as an improvising artist in the US and Europe for almost 50 years.
Golden’s wife is a philosophy professor at Millsaps College. He has two daughters, the youngest of whom is an 8th grader in advanced academics at Bailey APAC and a visual arts emphasis at Power.
Golden is never better than when he collaborates with teachers, librarians, students, musicians, and anyone else curious and interested in the world we live in.
Richard Grant is an award-winning author, journalist, and television host. He currently writes for Smithsonian magazine, The New York Times, Al Jazeera America, the Telegraph (UK), and several other publications. He grew up in London, England, and now lives in Jackson, Mississippi. His latest book is Dispatches from Pluto, a New York Times bestseller and Winner of the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. His previous books are Crazy River, God’s Middle Finger, and American Nomads.
A native of Atlanta, Matthew Guinn earned a BA in English from the University of Georgia. He continued graduate school at the University of Mississippi, where he met his wife Kristen and completed a master’s degree. At the University of South Carolina, where he earned a Ph.D. in English, he was personal assistant to the late James Dickey. In addition to the Universities of Mississippi and South Carolina, he has taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and at Tulane University’s School of Continuing Studies in Madison, Mississippi.
Matthew and Kristen live in Jackson, Mississippi, with their two children, Braiden and Phoebe.
John Jennings is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside. Jennings is co-editor of the Eisner Award-winning collection The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of the Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art. Jennings is also a 2016 Nasir Jones Hip Hop Studies Fellow with the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Jennings’ current projects include the horror anthology Box of Bones, the coffee table book Black Comix Returns (with Damian Duffy), and the Eisner-winning, Bram Stoker Award-winning, New York Times best-selling graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s classic dark fantasy novel Kindred. Duffy and Jennings recently released their graphic novelization of Octavia Bulter’s prescient dystopian novel Parable of the Sower (Abrams ComicArts). Jennings is also founder and curator of the ABRAMS Megascope line of graphic novels.
Motivational speaker, historian, and women’s activist, Pamela D.C. Junior is the newly appointed director of the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson, Mississippi. As former manager of Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, Pamela fought passionately and tirelessly to make the Museum a first-class place of interpretation, bringing the museum from financial struggles to features across the nation, most notably, one of CNN’s “50 States, 50 Spots”. After seventeen years of service at Smith Roberson, Pamela became the inaugural director of the first state-sponsored civil rights museum in the nation, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museums were she welcomed more than 250,000 visitors in her first year, and today, she is at the helm of the Two Mississippi Museums. Here she continues her tireless work to share the stories of Mississippi with audiences all over the world. She believes the stories told in the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum should be used as an educational tool for students. In her words, “If we teach children about the history of Mississippi—sharing the events that give us hope and bring us despair in a public space, where we see examples of people who never gave up, whose strength and tenacity can now give us hope and inspire us all to see others as we see ourselves— you will secure a twinkle in the eyes of many that will last a lifetime.”
Pamela has been honored over the years for her professional work as well as her community work. In 2015, she was awarded the Margaret Walker Center’s coveted For My People Award, in 2018 she was selected for Visit Jackson’s Hometown Hero and the Magnolia Bar Association’s Harriet Tubman awards, and most recently, she was honored with the 2019 Association of African American Museums Museum Leadership Award for her work in the museum field.
Pamela continues to serve her community with her recent appointments board member for Visit Jackson and advisory board member for the Mississippi Book Festival. She is also a member of Women for Progress of Mississippi. As a woman who knows that she did not get to this position without standing on the shoulders of many women whose vision for African Americans lives on today, she gives homage to the great women of her life such as her grandmother, mother, and mentors.
Pamela is a native of Jackson, Mississippi, and earned a B.S. in Education, with a minor in Special Education from Jackson State University.
Kiese Laymon is the author of Long Division, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy: An American Memoir.
Ebony Lumumba is an associate professor of English at Jackson State University and serves as department chair. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Mississippi a Master of Arts in English from Georgia State University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Spelman College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She was named the 2013 Eudora Welty Research Fellow by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Eudora Welty Foundation and was honored as Tougaloo College’s Humanities Teacher of the Year in 2014. She specializes in postcolonial literatures of the Global South and black mothering as resistance in her research academic publications and instruction. Dr. Lumumba is an active scholar with publications that include a chapter in From Uncle Tom’s Cabin to The Help: Critical Perspectives on White-Authored Texts of Black Life; an article in the Eudora Welty Review titled “‘Caught in the act of living’”: Welty as a voyeur and witness of black life”; a chapter titled “The Matter of Black Lives in American Literature: Eudora Welty’s Non-Fiction and Photography” and a chapter in the forthcoming collection New Essays on Welty Class and Race.
John F. Marszalek III is a National Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor in Mississippi. He has been a counselor educator for over 20 years and is currently clinical faculty of the online clinical mental health counseling program at Southern New Hampshire University. He received his PhD in counselor education at Mississippi State University.
John’s research has been published in chapters of edited books and professional counseling journals. Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet is his first book.
Before moving back to Mississippi, John lived in Buffalo, NY, Washington, DC, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and New Orleans, LA.
John lives with his husband and their two dogs in Starkville, Mississippi
Tiffany McDaniel is a novelist, poet, and visual artist born and raised in Ohio. She is the author of The Summer That Melted Everything and Betty.
C. Liegh McInnis is an English instructor at Jackson State University, the former editor/publisher of Black Magnolias Literary Journal, the author of eight books, including four collections of poetry, one collection of short fiction (Scripts: Sketches and Tales of Urban Mississippi), one work of literary criticism (The Lyrics of Prince: A Literary Look at a Creative, Musical Poet, Philosopher, and Storyteller), one co-authored work, Brother Hollis: The Sankofa of a Movement Man, which discusses the life of a legendary Mississippi Civil Rights icon, and the former First Runner-Up of the Amiri Baraka/Sonia Sanchez Poetry Award. His work has appeared in The Southern Quarterly, Konch Magazine, Bum Rush the Page, Down to the Dark River: Anthology of Poems about the Mississippi River, Black Hollywood Unchained: Essays about Hollywood’s Portrayal of African Americans, Black Gold: Anthology of Black Poetry, Sable, New Delta Review, Black World Today, In Motion Magazine, MultiCultural Review, A Deeper Shade, New Laurel Review, ChickenBones, Oxford American, Journal of Ethnic American Literature, and Red Ochre Lit.
Wayètu Moore is the author of the novel She would Be King, named a best book of 2018 by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Entertainment Weekly, and Buzzfeed. She is the founder of One Moore Book, a nonprofit organization that creates and distributes culturally relevant books for underrepresented readers. Her writing can be found in the Paris Review, Guernica, and the Atlantic, among other publications. Moore is a graduate of Howard University, Columbia University, and the University of Southern California. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Brittney Morris is the author of Slay. She holds a BA in economics from Boston University because back then, she wanted to be a financial analyst. (She’s now thankful that didn’t happen). She spends her spare time reading, playing indie video games, and enjoying the rain from her house in Philadelphia. She lives with her husband Steven who would rather enjoy the rain from a campsite in the woods because he hasn’t played enough horror games.
Brittney is the founder and former president of the Boston University Creative Writing Club, and she’s a four-time NaNoWriMo winner.
Jackson native Tonja Murphy is thrilled to join the team after serving on the Board of Directors. Tonja puts her love for community, students, and books to use with the Mississippi Book Festival, as she takes on the role of Community Engagement Coordinator.
Nina Parikh has been with the Mississippi Film Office for 22 years, currently serving as the director. She studied filmmaking at New York University and University of Southern Mississippi, worked in the industry as a producer, and currently teaches as an adjunct professor at Millsaps College. As a producer of “Ballast”, an independent feature film made in Mississippi, she and the team were honored with two awards at the Sundance Film Festival 2009. Nina is a co-founder and board member of the Crossroads Film Festival & Society and Mississippi Film Alliance, a non-profit supporting indigenous filmmaking. She also serves on the boards of the Association of Film Commissioners International, Mississippi Book Festival, Creative Mississippi, and is the event producer of TEDxJackson.
Graham and Parker Phillips are brother writer/directors based out of New York and Los Angeles. Parker studied literature at Bucknell University while Graham studied U.S. History at Princeton where he wrote his thesis on indigenous marginalization and resistance in the United States.
Graham has performed in a variety of roles on stage, film and television, including leads in the films Goats, Evan Almighty, XOXO, Staten Island Summer and Blockers, as well as in the Broadway musical 13. He was also a series regular on The Good Wife and currently plays on Riverdale and Atypical.
Their first short film, The Mediator, inspired by their father and set in 1890s gold country, won the 2015 Carmel International Film Festival. Their first feature, The Bygone, premiered at Austin, Bozeman and Deadcenter Film Festivals and was sold to Netflix.
They are set to direct the feature Rumble Through the Dark, based on Michael Farris Smith’s novel The Fighter and produced by Cassian Elwes, as well as Blackwood, based on Smith’s most recent work of the same name. They are also executive producing an original drama series with Michael Farris Smith as well as a thriller series based on John Hart’s New York Times best-selling novel, Redemption Road.
Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller Serena and Above the Waterfall, in addition to four prizewinning novels, including The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he teaches at Western Carolina University.
I am the Serials and Reference Librarian at the Raymond Campus of Hinds Community College. I have spent 16 years working in academic and public libraries where I have taught bibliographic instruction to first-year students and led workshops for first-time puppeteers. In my free time, I enjoy playing music, creating art, and DIY projects. I live in Jackson, MS with my two dogs, Alvy Singer and Navin R. Johnson.
Michael Farris Smith is the award-winning author of Blackwood, The Fighter, Desperation Road, and Rivers. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK, and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France. Nick, his sixth novel, releases in January. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and daughters.
Photo by Luisa Porter
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her adorable little family on most social media platforms.
Hillary Taylor is a native Mississippian. She is the Event Director at Lemuria Books and has been a bookseller there for 5 years. She lives in Brandon, MS with her husband, Andrew.
Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her award-winning, acclaimed debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and major motion picture from Fox 2000, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by George Tillman, Jr. Her second novel, On the Come Up, is a #1 NYT seller as well with film rights option by Paramount Pictures.
Photo by Anissa Photography
Natasha Trethewey is a former US poet laureate and the author of five collections of poetry as well as a book of creative non-fiction. She has held appointments at Duke University, Emory University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Yale University. She is currently the Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University. In 2007, she won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her collection Native Guard.
Donna-lyn Washington edited John Jennings: Conversations, part of the University Press of Mississippi’s Conversations with Comic Artists Series. She is adjunct lecturer of English at Kingsborough Community College, and she is also senior editor and senior writer at ReviewFix. She has contributed to Rediscovering Frank Yerby: Critical Essays, published by University Press of Mississippi, as well as entries to the Encyclopedia of Black Comics.
Jerid P. Woods (Akili Nzuri) is a writer, PhD Candidate, and literary influencer from Natchez, MS. He’s also a high school English teacher and the owner and operator of ablackmanreading.com and the instagram page: @ablackmanreading.