2021 Festival

About Our Virtual Festival

Just days before the seventh annual Mississippi Book Festival was to begin in August, COVID got in the way, canceling our in-person Literary Lawn Party. Nevertheless, with the support of presenting funder, the Community Foundation for Mississippi, virtual festival sponsor Trustmark National Bank, and many more funders, partners, and volunteers, we moved into high gear to record more than a hundred authors in 31 compelling panel discussions. Recordings include: Nic Stone (Clean Getaway) connecting live with over 9,300 school children online, Jerry Mitchell (Race Against Time) with Frontline PBS, Impact Producer Erika Howard; Curtis Wilkie (When Evil Lived in Laurel); Kiese Laymon (Long Division); W. Ralph Eubanks (A Place Like Mississippi); Catherine Pierce (Danger Days); William Ferris (I AM A MAN); Angie Thomas (Concrete Rose); Aimee Nezhukumatathil (World of Wonders); Robert Khayat (60); and Kai Bird (The Outlier). Please scroll down this page to find the links to these and all of our other panelists as they explore a range of subjects through new books and writings in our 2021 Virtual Festival.

2021 Funders

At a Glance

Below is a quick list of panels and panelists in videos and podcasts. Clicking items in this list conveniently “jumps” you to the place lower on this page where you can watch or listen to recordings.

Virtual Experiences

Scroll down. Pick a panel. Click on the “+” to watch and listen.

VIDEO & PODCAST

A Lively Legacy

Presented by Pass Books; Watkins & Eager

Spirited stories and storied characters are interwoven in the Southern fabric, as are top-notch authors to flesh out its most entertaining and intriguing threads.

  • Sarah Story, MODERATOR
  • Jennifer V.O. Baughn, Buildings of Mississippi
  • James R. Crockett, Rulers of the SEC: Ole Miss and Mississippi State, 1959,1966
  • Lee Harper, Tiny Oxford
  • Vincent J. Venturini, One Direction Home: A History of South Jackson
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VIDEO & PODCAST

All About Hub City Press

Presented by Communications Art Company

Hear all about the Southern indie publisher and their larger-than life authors.

  • Meg Reid, MODERATOR
  • Anjali Enjeti, The Parted Earth
  • Ashleigh Bryant Phillips, Sleepovers: Stories
  • Gordy Sauer, Child in the Valley
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Book Club Picks

Presented by Fischer Galleries

From escapist thrills to stories of self-discovery and solace, these authors discuss their most recent cant-put-it-down books sure to keep your Book Club talking about compelling characters in evocative settings.

  • Lyn Roberts, MODERATOR
  • Kristy Woodson Harvey, Under the Southern Sky
  • Katherine St. John, The Siren
  • Karen White, Last Night in London
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Civil Rights

Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council; Mississippi Department of Archives & History

Period photographs of pivotal moments, first-person stories from history, and the trail of Black America’s fight for freedom and equality present a vivid look at the movement that transformed America.

  • Pamela D.C. Junior, MODERATOR
  • Roy DeBerry, Voices from the Mississippi Hill Country: The Benton County Civil Rights Movement
  • Deborah D. Douglas, Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events that Made the Movement
  • William R. Ferris, I AM A MAN : Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1960,1970
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Debut

Presented by Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi; Friends of the University of Mississippi Libraries

With compelling protagonists confronting their worlds head-on, these bold new voices present beloved stories that crackle with razor-sharp observations and thrill with tension.

  • Maurice Carlos Ruffin, MODERATOR
  • Mateo Askaripour, Black Buck
  • Robert Jones, Jr., The Prophets
  • Dawnie Walton, The Final Revival of Opal and Nev
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Drawing on Imagination

Presented by Sara & Bill Ray; The James & Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation

Explore the diverse and vivid landscape of children’s literature with author/illustrators whose captivating works nurture a lifelong love of reading.

  • Ellen Hunter Ruffin, MODERATOR
  • Gilbert Ford, From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves
  • Melissa Iwai, Dumplings for Lili
  • Don Tate, Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes
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VIDEO

Familiar Voices

Listen and enjoy a few voices of home as these local authors discuss their newest books.

  • Marshall Ramsey, MODERATOR
  • Johnnie Bernhard, Sisters of the Undertow: A Novel
  • Susan Cushman, John and Mary Margaret
  • William H. Morris, This Magic Moment: My Journey of Faith, Friends and the Father’s Love
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Human and Nature

Presented by Terry Hunt & Dick Molpus

From mountaintop to seashore to scientific possibilities, these authors tuck into rich history, daring frontiers, and the ways we humans embrace, interact with, and impact our home planet.

  • Dustin Parsons, MODERATOR
  • Cynthia Barnett, The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans
  • Patrick Dean, A Window to Heaven: The Daring First Ascent of Denali: America’s Wildest Peak
  • Nathaniel Rich, Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade
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VIDEO

In Conversation with Annalyn Swan

Presented by Wise Carter; Mississippi Museum of Art

Join the Mississippi Museum of Art’s director and the Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of a new biography about Francis Bacon, for a revealing discussion of the iconoclast artist whose unsettling works made him an iconic painter of the 20th century.

  • Betsy Bradley, MODERATOR
  • Annalyn Swan, Francis Bacon: Revelations
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VIDEO & PODCAST

In Conversation with Kai Bird

Presented by Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Carolyn & Chris Ray

The Director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History sits down with the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist who has written a number of acclaimed biographies including his most recent, The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter.

  • Katie Blount, MODERATOR
  • Kai Bird, The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter
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VIDEO

In Conversation with Robert Khayat

Presented by Nautilus Publishing; University of Mississippi

A can’t-miss discussion between the best-selling author/ESPN senior writer and the University of Mississippi’s visionary chancellor emeritus is sure to touch on Ole Miss culture and history, football, and the larger implications for our home state.

  • Wright Thompson, Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last, MODERATOR
  • Robert Khayat, 60: A Year of Sports, Race, and Politics
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VIDEO

Investigating Money, Power, and Influence

Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council; Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting

Investigative journalists reveal their groundbreaking work in uncovering and reporting on some of the most topical stories of our time: gross financial mismanagement, systemic sexual abuse within USA Gymnastics, and the decades-long victimization of underage girls by Jeffrey Epstein and those who conspired to protect him.

  • Michael Massing, MODERATOR
  • Julie K. Brown, Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story
  • Marisa Kwiatkowski
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VIDEO & PODCAST

KidNote with Nic Stone

Presented by The James & Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation; The Phil Hardin Foundation; Terry Hunt & Dick Molpus

  • Tonja Murphy, MODERATOR
  • Nic Stone, Clean Getaway
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Meet Me in the Middle

Presented by Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival; The Phil Hardin Foundation

Good and engaging impressions for those at an impressionable age.

  • Sarah Frances Hardy, MODERATOR
  • Alda P. Dobbs, Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna
  • Gilbert Ford, The Mysterious Messenger
  • Carrie Seim, Horse Girl
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Memoir

Presented by Donna & Jim Barksdale; Carol Puckett & John Palmer

Lenses turn inward on the deepest hurts, the most profound healings, and the moments of poignancy, humor, and ultimate human truths at the heart of life in a suite of evocative memoirs.

  • Margaret McMullan, MODERATOR
  • Elizabeth Miki Brina, Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir
  • Brian Broome, Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir
  • Allison Moorer, Blood: A Memoir
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Mosquito Supper Club

Presented by Pass Books; Holly & Alan Lange

Melissa M. Martin, chef-owner of Mosquito Supper Club, talks South Louisiana cuisine, her cookbook, and life on the bayou with Mississippi Vegan author Timothy Pakron.

  • Timothy Pakron, MODERATOR
  • Melissa M. Martin, Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Mystery Revealed

Presented by University of Mississippi; Julie & Brad Chism

Lost souls and intersecting destinies — set in arty New Orleans, gritty Brooklyn, and the Kentucky backwoods — drive compelling tales from a trio of acclaimed Oxford writers.

  • Rebecca Lee Wiggs, MODERATOR
  • William Boyle, City of Margins: A Novel
  • Melissa Ginsburg, The House Uptown: A Novel
  • Chris Offutt, The Killing Hills
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Myths and Consequences

Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council; Friendly City Books

Navigate the history of the Lost Cause myth, the raising and removal of its most visible symbols, and the pathway toward solidarity and racial justice with a panel steeped in the struggle.

  • Mitch Landrieu, MODERATOR
  • Karen L. Cox, No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice
  • Howard Hunter, Tearing Down the Lost Cause: The Removal of New Orleans’s Confederate Statues
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VIDEO

Novel Takes

Presented by University of Southern Mississippi Center for Writers

When historically shuttered voices rise up and out, the results are as winning as they are telling, in best sellers that upend stale notions of femininity, family dynamics, and the lengths it might take to reach your deepest desires.

  • John Caleb Grenn, MODERATOR
  • Kristen Arnett, With Teeth: A Novel
  • Quan Barry, We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel
  • Torrey Peters, Detransition, Baby: A Novel
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Out in Focus

Presented by LGBTQ Fund of Mississippi

Scholarly research, poignant memoir, and portraits of life follow the threads of gay culture in the American South, for enlightening takes on celebrated literature, drag clubs, and personal and family experiences.

  • Jaime Harker, MODERATOR
  • M Shelly Conner, everyman
  • Phillip Gordon, Gay Faulkner: Uncovering a Homosexual Presence in Yoknapatawpha and Beyond
  • John F. Marszalek III, Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi
  • Elizabeth McCain, A Lesbian Belle Tells: OUTrageous Southern Stories of Family, Loss, and Love
  • Martin Padgett, A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta’s Gay Revolution
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Personal Reflections

Presented by University of Mississippi; The Bailey & Carr Families

Often funny and always profound, these authors plumb the connections made and the mysteries that abound in stories examining landscapes, life, and survival.

  • Beth Ann Fennelly, MODERATOR
  • Helen Ellis, Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light: Essays
  • Lauren Hough, Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays
  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Race Against Time

Produced in partnership with Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Frontline PBS

Presented by Caroll, Warren & Parker; Nancy & Cecil Brown

Join Frontline PBS, Impact Producer Erika Howard in conversation with Jerry Mitchell on his book Race Against Time, chronicling his dogged pursuit of the killers behind four of the civil rights movement’s most infamous crimes, decades after the fact. Plus hear firsthand from family member Lisa McNair who felt those losses the keenest.

  • Erika Howard, MODERATOR
  • Lisa McNair
  • Jerry Mitchell, Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era, MODERATOR
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Resonant Verse

Presented by Mississippi State University Department of English; Mississippi State University College of Arts & Sciences

As contemporary as they come, these poets explore current landscapes, tangled legacies, and the debts we owe through language that digs deep, holds fast, and can’t soon be forgotten.

  • Derrick Harriell, MODERATOR
  • Sandra Beasley, Made to Explode: Poems
  • Richard Boada, We Find Each Other in the Darkness: Poems
  • Adam Clay, To Make Room for the Sea
  • Ashley M. Jones
  • Catherine Pierce, Danger Days
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Revision with Kiese Laymon

Presented by Mississippi Arts Commission; Pigott Law Firm

Listen in as the influencer behind the popular “Bookstagram” account @ablackmanreading talks to one of literature’s most profound voices about the importance and power of revision.

  • Jerid P. Woods (Akili Nzuri), MODERATOR
  • Kiese Laymon, How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: Essays; Long Division: A Novel
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VIDEO

Southern Literary Landscape

Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council; Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Get a well-rounded view of the nation’s richest region for the written word from a panel covering all aspects of the literary realm.

  • John T. Edge, MODERATOR
  • W. Ralph Eubanks, A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey Through a Real and Imagined Literary Landscape
  • Michael Gorra, The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War
  • Lawrence Wells, In Faulkner’s Shadow: A Memoir
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Southern Writers

Presented by Cornerstone Consulting Group; Janet & Luther Ott

Talented Southern authors discuss standout characters that compel readers to come along on exciting journeys that seek to tackle questions of self-determination, life’s potential, and our duty to each other.

  • Jimmy Cajoleas, MODERATOR
  • Lee Durkee, The Last Taxi Driver
  • Gin Phillips, Family Law: A Novel
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VIDEO

The de Grummond Collection

Presented by University of Southern Mississippi de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection; The Phil Hardin Foundation

Delve into the history of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi, its growth into one of North America’s largest collections of historical and contemporary youth literature, and its value for research in the field.

  • Ellen Hunter Ruffin, MODERATOR
  • Jennifer Brannock
  • Carolyn J. Brown, A de Grummond Primer: Highlights of the Children’s Literature Collection
  • Danielle Bishop Stoulig
  • Eric Tribunella
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VIDEO & PODCAST

The Gulf South

Presented by University of Southern Mississippi Center for the Study of the Gulf South; The James & Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation

Take a deep dive into the Gulf Coast with authors whose works illuminate the human impact on the Gulf Coast region’s history, ecology, industry, commerce and culture—from its role in the Revolutionary war to the impact of environmental disasters.

  • Scott Naugle, MODERATOR
  • Mike Bunn, Fourteenth Colony: The Forgotten Story of the Gulf South During America’s Revolutionary Era
  • Tori Bush, The Gulf South: An Anthology of Environmental Writing
  • Chris McLaughlin, Mississippi Barking: Hurricane Katrina and a Life That Went to the Dogs
  • Deanne Love Stephens, The Mississippi Gulf Coast Seafood Industry: A People’s History
  • Christian Pinnen, Colonial Mississippi: A Borrowed Land
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VIDEO & PODCAST

UPM 50th Anniversary

Presented by H.T. White Family Fund; Mississippi State University

Key stakeholders delve into the decades-long history of the only non-profit publisher in the state, with a focus on its storied commitment to publishing a wide range of scholarly books that are culturally important not only to the state, but to the world at large.

  • Seetha Srinivasan, MODERATOR
  • Ann J. Abadie, Fifty Years After Faulkner
  • Monika Gehlawat
  • Robert E. Luckett, Jr., Redefining Liberal Arts Education in the Twenty-First Century
  • Brian A. Pugh, Chaos and Compromise: The Evolution of the Mississippi Budgeting Process
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VIDEO & PODCAST

When Evil Lived in Laurel

Presented by Louisa Dixon & Jerry Johnson; Mississippi Humanities Council

Dig into the background and contemporary relevance of this compelling book of the murder of civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer, and the heroic intrigue that led to justice against the KKK, with the veteran journalist/ author, the FBI informant’s wife and son, and the judge who was county prosecutor at the time.

  • Michael Morris, MODERATOR
  • Anne Landrum
  • Mike Landrum
  • Judge Charles W. Pickering
  • Curtis Wilkie, When Evil Lived in Laurel: The “White Knights” and the Murder of Vernon Dahmer
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Windows to the Past

Presented by The Source by BankPlus

Gripping suspense, extraordinary heroism, and enduring love—set against the high stakes of wartime—resonate in these magnificently timeless stories of survival against all odds.

  • Tracy Carr, MODERATOR
  • Kristin Harmel, The Forest of Vanishing Stars: A Novel
  • Ariel Lawhon, Code Name Hélène: A Novel
  • Marisel Vera, The Taste of Sugar: A Novel
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VIDEO & PODCAST

Young Adult

Presented by University of Southern Mississippi de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection; Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival

Three YA authors from Mississippi create memorable young characters who tackle weighty topics—from cult recruitment and teen parenthood to the social struggles of living with Tourette’s—in clever, humorous, and heartfelt ways.

  • Sami Thomason-Fyke, MODERATOR
  • Jennifer Moffett, Those Who Prey
  • Angie Thomas, Concrete Rose
  • Heather Truett, Kiss and Repeat
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