Going Creative in Mississippi

Clarksdale, Mississippi. Last weekend. Creative Nonfiction at the Crossroads. Neil White led a Saturday morning workshop, Susan Cushman read an essay from a newly published anthology she’s in, and I read my essay in The Best Creative Nonfiction Vol. 3 and shared and led manuscript critiquing sessions during the 24 hours of the workshop weekend. About twenty people came together — beautiful, creative people, from Mississippi and not from Mississippi. We gelled quickly, we talked and read and listened and shared and were genuinely inspired by one another. We talked about getting together again. For a bigger conference.

Susan Cushman, Neil White, Kathy Rhodes

Oxford, Mississippi. Next year: May 2-5, 2013. The Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference. With Lee Gutkind and other top names in the genre. Neil White, Susan Cushman, and I are co-directors, and we’re excited about offering the opportunity for people from all over the country to come to Mississippi, to attend workshops and panels and to pitch to agents and to grow and build skills in the genre…and to enjoy the sweet Southern spirit of quaint Oxford.

Writers, come join us! It’s time NOW to make a reservation at the Inn at Ole Miss. The conference will be held on campus, and it’s important to secure a room there. Now.

Come, be a part of our Southern Creative Nonfiction Community. We’re building and bonding and supporting one another.

___

Clarksdale, I know. It’s sort of like home. I was born and raised about forty miles south, down the straight and narrow Highway 61. My spirit came out of that fertile soil, I was born of it, steeped in it. My spirit is still attached there. I feel it when I go home. On the day we sold my mama’s house in 2010, after she and Dad had owned it for 64 years, I dug some dirt out of her yard and put it in a crystal dish. I have it with me now, along with the house numbers 807 that hung next to her front door. A reminder of who I am and where I came from. The Delta. The Mississippi Delta. Formed by that mighty river…that is mine, too.

Oxford. An hour and a half from my girlhood home. I remember William Faulkner in the news. I remember things people said about him. I remember the day he died. Now, I know other authors from there. I’ve seen and felt the creative spirit that lingers there around the Square and over the town.

The Mississippi spirit. Come. Feel it. Join us in 2013.

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