Mississippi Humanities Council Newsletter - August 2017
Stuart Rockoff
MHC executive director
Director's Message
MHC Helps Present Mississippi Book Festival
 
Not long after I started at the Mississippi Humanities Council almost four years ago, I had a meeting with Jere Nash, who spoke about his dream of creating a Mississippi Book Festival. Having been in graduate school at the University of Texas in the 1990s when First Lady Laura Bush helped launch the Texas Book Festival in Austin, I knew how great such an event would be for Mississippi. The Humanities Council quickly signed up as a partner. In addition to our providing annual support, our staff has been actively engaged in the leadership and programming of the festival. Of course, our involvement pales in comparison with that of Nash, Holly Lang, Emily Pote, and the many volunteers who plan and put on Mississippi's literary lawn party. We are proud to be a small part of the team.

The inaugural festival in 2015 was an overwhelming success with virtually every seat in every panel filled. Last year's festival was larger, with more authors and larger spaces to accommodate the incredible public response. On August 19, the Mississippi Book Festival will hold its third annual celebration of books and the authors who write them. You can see a full festival schedule here.

Each year, I get to select which panels the Humanities Council puts its name on as a sponsor. This year, we are excited to help present "A Conversation with the Librarian of Congress," featuring Carla Hayden, the first-ever female and African American head of the Library of Congress, and Congressman Gregg Harper. Congressman Harper, who chairs the Committee on House Administration, which oversees the Library of Congress, is a big supporter of the Library, the book festival, and the humanities. We are also presenting the panel "Write for Mississippi," a project of novelist Katy Simpson Smith, who arranged for Mississippi writers to teach public high school students around the state. An MHC bicentennial grant helped fund the publication of student writings from the program. We are also pleased to present "Capturing Mississippi," a discussion with Mississippi photographers, moderated by former NEH chairman William Ferris and featuring MHC board member Panny Mayfield.

With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities' Special Initiative on the Legacy of Race, we are presenting a Mississippi History panel that features six authors who have written on different aspects of the civil rights movement in Mississippi. If you aren't able to attend this session in person, you can watch it live on C-SPAN, which has broadcast panels from the festival each year. We are also pleased to help present a conversation with the editors of the recently published Mississippi Encyclopedia. This long-gestating project began more than fifteen years ago with a planning grant from the NEH.

Between panels, we invite you to drop by Room 204 of the State Capitol for the Mississippi Marathon Read, a program put together by the MHC and the Mississippi Library Commission with festival writers reading aloud the work of their favorite Mississippi authors throughout the day.

Between panels, we invite you to drop by Room 204 of the State Capitol for the Mississippi Marathon Read, a program put together by the MHC and the Mississippi Library Commission with festival writers reading aloud the work of their favorite Mississippi authors throughout the day. If you have small children, come by Room 103 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to sample our family reading program featuring talented local storytellers.

Since its first year in 2015, the Mississippi Book Festival has become our state's premier literary event, and the MHC is excited and honored to play an active role in it.
Third Annual Mississippi Book Festival Opens August 19

The 2017 Mississippi Book Festival opens the pages on its third annual "Literary  Lawn Party" at the State Capitol complex Saturday, August 19. This year's festival boasts more than 150 authors participating on 38 official panels, along with plenty of other events that will appeal to the entire family. Festival admission is free.
 
"It's a book lover's dream to meet authors face to face and hear the stories behind the stories," festival executive director Holly Lange says. "It's a chance, too, to rub shoulders with fellow readers, pick up tips, as well as books and get insights into Mississippi's greatest cultural legacy.' The festival kicks off at 9 a.m. with special guest, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. There will also be special morning activities for children and young readers. Author signings, bookseller displays, and the "Mississippi Marathon Read" will offer plenty to do for all book lovers. If you get hungry, more than a dozen food trucks will be on hand for refueling.
 
Authors on official panels will discuss their works, covering topics such as Mississippi's musical heritage, southern fiction, short stories, history and biography, cooking, photography, mystery, the Mississippi Encyclopedia, children's literature, poetry, art in Mississippi, Larry
Brown and the modern novel, Eudora Welty's legacy, and middle-grade readers.
Participating authors include Richard Ford, Greg Iles, Angie Thomas, Ron Rash, Vivian Howard, Linda Williams Jackson, Mark Bowden, Bill Ferris, Curtis Wilkie, Katy
Simpson Smith, Ellen Gilchrist, Jessica Harris, John T. Edge, and many more.
 
Lemuria Books owner John Evans has been a guiding hand in festival planning. "Mississippi's literary contributions have enhanced our state and national culture. Our great writers are household names; many of their stories are our stories," he says, "But before great writers put pen to paper, they were first great readers, which is why we offer so many activities and panels dedicated to children's authors."
 
Find a full listing of panels and authors on the website. www.msbookfestival.com.
For more information, visit www.msbookfestival.com or email info@msbookfestival.com.

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Library Commission, Humanities Council Team Up to Host Marathon Read

The Mississippi Library Commission is proud to partner with the Mississippi Humanities Council in the first ever Mississippi Marathon Read at the Mississippi Book Festival August 19! Come celebrate the publication of the new Mississippi Literary Map, funded by a Bicentennial Grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council and Visit Mississippi. From 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 15 festival panelists will read from the works of 15 of your favorite Mississippi authors in 30-minute increments. All the fun happens in Room 204 in the Mississippi Capitol, so come on by to hear your new favorites read your old favorites!
Margaret Walker Alexander is one of the Mississippi authors whose work will be read by contemporary writers at the Marathon Read.
 
Schedule:
 
9:30 Katy Simpson Smith reads Eudora Welty
10:00 Taylor Kitchings reads Barry Hannah
10:30 John Gregory Brown reads Lewis Nordan
11:00 Norma Watkins reads Anne Moody
11:30 Jami Attenberg reads Donna Tartt
12:00 Ebony Lumumba reads Margaret Walker Alexander
12:30 Steve Yates reads Walker Percy
1:00 Mary Miller reads Ellen Gilchrist
1:30 Gilbert Ford reads Tennessee Williams
2:00 Tom Franklin reads Larry Brown
2:30 Odie Lindsey reads Brad Watson
3:00 Michael Farris Smith reads Jesmyn Ward
3:30 Ralph Eubanks reads Richard Wright
4:00 Beth Ann Fennelly reads Natasha Trethewey
4:30 John T. Edge reads William Faulkner

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MHC Welcomes New Office Administrator

Molly Conway has joined the Mississippi Humanities Council as the new office administrator. She is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, but moved with her parents to the Jackson area in 2007. Conway attended Ridgeland High School where she quickly fell in love with Southern culture, taking a special interest in Mississippi history. She graduated from Mississippi College in 2015 with a bachelor of arts in history and communication. During her time at MC, Conway was a member of Phi Alpha Theta and was a founding member of the Mississippi College History Club. She and her fiancé currently reside in Pearl with their dog, Scout (named for Jean Louise Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird).

"In my search for a fulfilling career, I knew I wanted to be a part of an organization that not only serves but also educates the public," Conway says, "Education and engaging discussion should be for everyone, not just those enrolled at a university."
Host Sites Announced for Next Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit

Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street (MoMS) division, the Mississippi Humanities Council is bringing "Water/Ways," a portable multi-kiosk exhibit, to Mis sissippi in 2018. "Water/Ways" will visit six communities from May 2018 through March 2019, including Clarksdale, Columbus, Jackson, Meridian, Moss Point, and Ocean Springs.

The Lower Mississi p pi River Foundation (Clarksdal e), the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Transportation Museum (Columbus), the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum (Jackson), the Mississippi Industrial
 Heritage Museum (Meridian), the Pascagoula River Audubon Center (Moss Point), and the Ocean Springs Municipal Library (Ocean Springs) will each host the traveling exhibit for six weeks. In addition to the exhibit, each site will develop a local complementary exhibit and weekly programming in conjunction with "Water/Ways."

"Water/Ways" explores the endless motion of the water cycle, water's effect on landscape, settlement and migration, and its impact on culture and spirituality. It looks at how political and economic planning have long been affected by access to water and control of water resources. Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

For a full schedule of "Water/Ways" stops in Mississippi or for more information on the exhibit, visit www.mshumanities.org or email cgillespie@mhc.state.ms.us.

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'Ideas on Tap' Explores Booze and Creative Placemaking

On July 25, the Mississippi Humanities Council and Rethink Mississippi hosted an Ideas on Tap event called "What's Brewing, Mississippi?" about the emerging craft beer and distilled spirit industries in Mississippi.
 
A panel, moderated by Charlene Williams, a member of the Mississippi Brewers Guild and Jackson Barley's Angels, focused on how local craft beer and distilled spirits industries are developing and the impact they have in the greater community. The discussion addressed topics such as local creative placemaking in view of these burgeoning industries, Mississippi legislation with regards to alcohol regulation, and economic impact. The panel featured Austin Evans, cofounder of Cathead Vodka; brewmaster Lucas Simmons from Lucky Town Brewing Company; and lawyer Matthew McLaughlin who serves as General Counsel to the Mississippi Brewers.
 
Ideas on Tap will return later this month on August 22 with a new topic: public education.
Follow our Facebook page to keep updated on the program as details develop. For more information, contact Caroline Gillespie at cgillespie@mhc.state.ms.us
 
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MHC Receives Grants to Support Family Reading Program

The Mississippi Humanities Council has been awarded over $6,000 from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson to support the MHC's Family Reading Program. The MHC received $2,050 from the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and $3,960 from the Mississippi Arts Commission.
"We are thrilled to receive these grant funds from MAC and CFGJ. Both organizations have been such strong supporters of our Family Reading Program in the past, and we are excited to see the impact that this money can have on communities around the metro and state," said Caroline Gillespie, MHC program officer.

Funding from these grants will go to programs in Horn Lake, Meridian, Jackson, and New Augusta, among others. The grant funds will be used to purchase books for each family to keep after the program is over, as well as for payments to the discussion leader, storyteller, and childcare attendant at each program.

For more information on the Family Reading Program or to host a program in your community, contact Caroline Gillespie at cgillespie@mhc.state.ms.us.

Learn more
Next Major Grant Deadline is September 15

The Mississippi Humanities Council grants program supports projects that stimulate meaningful community dialogue, attract diverse audiences, are participatory and engaging, and apply the humanities to our everyday lives. Grants may be used to support public humanities programs, exhibits, the planning of larger projects, and the development of original productions in film, television, radio or online resources

The Council also accepts grant applications for projects that examine the state's racial history and foster discussion about continuing racial disparities in Mississippi. For information about these grants, visit the Racial Equity Grants page on the MHC website.

The Council also offers special grants to support oral history projects around the state.

Larger grants ($2,001-$7,500) deadlines are May 1 and September 15. Funded events may not occur fewer than ten weeks from the deadline date, and pre-consultation with MHC staff is required before submitting an application. Grant application forms and other related documents may be found on the  Grants page of the MHC website.

MHC Welcomes Summer Intern

MHC is pleased to welcome Darden Pilkinton as our summer intern. Originally from Ridgeland, Mississippi, she graduated from Saint Andrew's Episcopal School in May 2016 and is currently enrolled at Boston University pursuing a B.A. in international relations and economics. As intern, Pilkinton has been helping to coordinate potential new partners for the Mississippi Humanities Council's Family Reading Program, aiding the Council's social media outreach, and conducting research to help with the upcoming MHC biennial report.

"This is our first experience with an intern under my tenure as executive director," said Stuart Rockoff. "Darden has been such a big help, that we hope to continue an internship program in the future."
Coming Up: Bicentennial Events Commemorate State's 200th

Lower Delta Talk Series
August 15, 2017 -- 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Sharkey Issaquena County Library, 116 East China Street, Rolling Fork
The Lower Delta Speakers Series, which kicks off August 15, includes a variety of folks who will speak on a topic of interest each month, topics that tell great Mississippi stories focused on our region of the Mississippi Delta and that help explain the important role the Delta plays in regards to the entire state of Mississippi. Some of the topics included in the 2017 will include People and their Stories, History, and Culture, Food and the Outdoors.
Katy Simpson Smith, author of "The Story of Land and Sea" will give a public reading Aug. 17 in Columbus.

In the Writer's Words
August 17, 2017 -- 7:00 p.m.
Rosenzweig Arts Center, 501 Main Street, Columbus
Join awarding-winning author Katy Simpson Smith in a discussion of her works,  Q & A, and readings from her highly popular novels.

2017 Old Tishomingo County Genealogy Fair
August 18, 2017 -- 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Waldron St. Christian Church, 816 Waldron Street, Corinth
Alcorn County Genealogy Society, Prentiss County Genealogical & Historical Society, and Tishomingo County Historical & Genealogical Society will engage the services of scholars specialized in Grave Dowsing, Research available at the Mississippi Department of Archives & History with emphasis on African-American and Native American Genealogy, and DNA research.

Women of Mississippi on Film
August 19, 2017 -- 5:00 p.m.
Locals Restaurant & Bar, 309 North Lamar Blvd., Oxford
The Oxford Film Festival and Sarah Isom Center have teamed up to celebrate the image of the Mississippi women on film. The film-and-discussion series features six films.The August movie screening is Mississippi Masala (1991) and stars Sarita Choudhury. Mississippi Masala is about an Indian family is expelled from Uganda when Idi Amin takes power. They move to Mississippi and time passes. The Indian daughter falls in love with a black man, and the respective families have to come to terms with it. The panel following the screening is "Interracial Romance in the South."

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