Visiting Writers Series

The Millsaps Visiting Writers Series brings to campus outstanding writers from a broad spectrum of experience and style. Each visit features a public reading or lecture and some will also include a craft talk.

All events are free and open to the public.

Recent Events

Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 5:30pm

Poets Stephen Cushman and Jamie Dickson

Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex, Room 137

Stephen Cushman, the Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia, is the author of five volumes of poetry, including The Red List (LSU 2014); four critical studies, including Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War (UNC 2014) and Fictions of Form in American Poetry (Princeton 1993); and he has edited the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.

Jamie Dickson graduated from Millsaps in the spring of 2001. The following fall, he took a job teaching high school English at Madison Central High in Madison, MS. In 2011, he earned his MFA in creative writing, with an emphasis in poetry, from the Bennington College low-residency program. His poems, book reviews, and essays appear in The Common, Stirrings, English Journal, Ruminate, Hospital Drive, The Louisiana Review, Spillway, Slant, The Fiddleback, Poetry Quarterly, and McSweeney’s.

Reception to follow.

Contact: Michael Pickard

Thursday, March 23, 2017, 4:30pm

Beth Henley

Eudora Welty House and Garden at 1119 Pinehurst Street

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Jackson native Beth Henley will deliver the Eudora Welty Foundation's annual Bettye Jolly Lecture. As part of this event, Millsaps's own Peter Friedrich has arranged for director John Maxwell and actors Sydney Blackwell and Michael Winslow to reprise two short scenes from the 2015 production of Henley's play Crimes of the Heart at New Stage Theater. After Henley's lecture, Emerita Professor of English Suzanne Marrs will join her on stage to lead a discussion with the audience. Reception to follow. 

Contact: Michael Pickard




Thursday, February 23, 2017, 5pm

Reading and Signing by George Saunders

Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex, Room 215

George Saunders, a MacArthur Fellow, is widely recognized as in the handful of top short story writers in America. In 2013 he made Time's list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The New Yorker and Mother Jones have just released reviews of his newest book, Lincoln in the Bardo. Saunders will sign and read from Lincoln in the Bardo. This event is a partnership between the English Department Visiting Writers Series and Lemuria bookstore.

Contact: Michael Pickard



Friday, February 10, 2017, 1pm – Recital Hall (Note location) 

Citizen: Reflections on the Humanities and Civic Life”

Claudia Rankine 

Update: Due to travel difficulties, Claudia Rankine will not be in Jackson for Millsaps College’s Friday Forum on February 10. All events developed around Rankine’s visit will continue as planned. We are working with Rankine’s agent to find another time this spring for her to visit campus.

In her place a panel will feature an exciting group of scholars and writers, including Ebony Lumumba, chair and assistant professor of English at Tougaloo College; C. Liegh McInnis, poet, fiction writer, and instructor of English at Jackson State University; and Katy Simpson Smith, author of The Story of Land and Sea and Free Men. Our panelists will introduce and share some of their favorite passages from Rankine's book Citizen and answer questions from the audience. This event will take place at 1pm in the Academic Complex Recital Hall.

This public talk will be the culmination of the conference “‘This is How You Are a Citizen’: Humanities and Civic Life in Mississippi.” Claudia Rankine, 2016 McArthur Fellow and Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University, will read excerpts from her acclaimed Citizen, which was the 2016 summer reading assignment for first-year Millsaps students, and reflect on the implications of her work, and the humanities, in general, for civic life.

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. For Citizen, Rankine won the Forward Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (Citizen was also nominated in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award’s history to be a double nominee), the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the NAACP Image Award. A finalist for the National Book Award, Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. 

Learn more about Rankine's visit to Millsaps.

Contact: Michael Pickard



Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 4:30pm

Reading by Margaret McMullan and Katy Smith

Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex, Room 215

The Millsaps English Department and the Eudora Welty Foundation invite you to attend a reading by visiting writers and fellow Mississippians Margaret McMullan and Katy Simpson Smith. This event will take place on Tuesday, November 15, at 4:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex, room 215; a reception will follow. McMullan will read "Kaddish for Engel, 64240," an essay based on the research that she conducted in Hungary. Smith will read from her acclaimed novel Free Men, published this year by Harper.

Contact: Michael Pickard



Monday, October 3, 2016, 4:30pm

The English Department Visiting Writers Series and Eudora Welty Foundation present "Reading Poetry"

A lecture by Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan Professor at the University of Virginia

Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex, Room 137

The single most influential modern book of poetry education was Understanding Poetry, by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, initially published in 1938 and reprinted thereafter in scores of thousands of copies. It was written to replace a system of poetry (and language) education that had flourished for centuries in the teaching of classical languages and, later, vernacular English. That system was based in oral recitation and the sight reading of prose and poetical texts. The Brooks and Warren program succeeded, spawning ever more sophisticated forms of “Understanding Poetry.” Those educational methods have helped to gain poetry the bad eminence it currently enjoys in our schools. To counter the damage poetry education has suffered, we should consider shifting our focus from cognitions for understanding poetry to practices of reading poetry.