2021 Oxford Conference for the Book Authors
Our 2021 Conference will be all virtual! Check back often for updates.
To see the times speakers will present, please visit the schedule page.
Cassie Beasley is from rural Georgia, where, when she’s not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Circus Mirandus is her first novel.
Sandra Beasley is the author of four poetry collections—Made to Explode, Count the Waves, I Was the Jukebox(which won the 2009 Barnard Women Poets Prize), and Theories of Falling. She is also the author of Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a disability memoir and cultural history of food allergies. She served as the editor for Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. Honors for her work include the 2019 Munster Literature Centre’s John Montague International Poetry Fellowship, a 2015 NEA fellowship, and five DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities fellowships. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Cortney Lamar Charleston
Cortney Lamar Charleston is the author of Telepathologies and Doppelgangbanger. He was awarded a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and he has also received fellowships from Cave Canem and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Winner of a Pushcart Prize, his poems have appeared in POETRY, the American Poetry Review, the Kenyon Review, Granta, the Nation, and elsewhere. He serves as a poetry editor at the Rumpus and on the editorial board at Alice James Books.
Teri Ellen Cross Davis
Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of a more perfect Union and Haint. She is the 2020 Poetry Society of America’s Robert H. Winner Memorial Prize winner and the poetry coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.
Lee Durkee is the author of the novel Rides of the Midway and, most recently, The Last Taxi Driver. His stories and essays have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Sun, Best of the Oxford American, Zoetrope: All-Story, Tin House, New England Review, and Mississippi Noir. In 2021 his memoir Stalking Shakespeare will chronicle his decade-long obsession with trying to find lost portraits of William Shakespeare. A former cab driver, he lives in North Mississippi.
John T. Edge
John T. Edge has served as director since the 1999 founding of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Twice winner of the M. F. K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation, he is author of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, named a best book of 2017 by NPR, Publisher‘s Weekly, and a host of others. Now in paperback, Nashville selected the book as a citywide read for 2018. Edge is also the host of the television show TrueSouth, which airs on the SEC Network and on ESPN. Edge holds an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. A columnist for the Oxford American and Garden & Gun, Edge wrote the “United Tastes” column for the New York Times for three years and served as an Oxford American columnist for twenty-two years.
Tom Franklin is the author of five books, including Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which won the Los Angeles Timesbook prize for mystery/thriller, the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, and the UK’s Golden Dagger Award.
Beth Ann Fennelly
Poet Laureate of Mississippi, Beth Ann Fennelly teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s a proud affiliate of the Sarah Isom Center. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Fennelly has published three poetry books: Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables, and three books of prose: a book of nonfiction, Great with Child; next, The Tilted World, a novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin; and most recently, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, an Atlanta Journal Constitution Best Book. Fennelly and Franklin live in Oxford with their three children.
Catherine Coleman Flowers
Catherine Coleman Flowers is an internationally recognized environmental activist, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, and author. Founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), Flowers has spent her career advocating for equal access to clean water, air, sanitation, and soil in marginalized rural communities in order to reduce health and economic disparities. In addition, she serves as rural development manager for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), is a senior fellow for the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and sits on the board of directors for the Climate Reality Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Flowers uses her lens of leadership in environmental justice and climate change advocacy to inspire attendees with her innovation and experience. As the author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight against America’s Dirty Secret, Flowers shares her inspiring story of advocacy, from childhood to environmental justice champion. She discusses sanitation and its correlation with systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice that affects people across the United States.
Craig W. Gill
Craig W. Gill is the Director of the University Press of Mississippi. He has worked at the press for more than 22 years rising from Senior Editor to Editor-in-Chief to Director. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin he has worked in scholarly publishing since 1990 in marketing and editorial at Northwestern University Press, the University of Chicago Press, the University Press of Kentucky, and the University Press of Mississippi. Over the course of his career he has acquired and published more than seven hundred books.
Pete Halverson is the senior designer at the University Press of Mississippi. He holds a BA degree in Fine Art from Millsaps College. He was raised in Auburn, Alabama, where he learned the values of self-confidence, hard work, and not talking himself too seriously. Pete lives in Jackson with his wife, daughter, and two cats.
Derrick Harriell is the Ottilie Schillig Associate Professor of English, African American Studies, and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and an MFA in creative writing from Chicago State University. A two-time Pushcart Nominee, he is the author of three collections of poetry and was the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2014 poetry award winner for his collection Ropes. His essays and book reviews have been published widely.
Jonathan Haupt is the executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center and the former director of the University of South Carolina Press, where he created the Story River Books fiction imprint with Pat Conroy, named by Garden & Gun magazine as one of “the top ten things to love about the South.” He serves as a fiction judge for the Willie Morris Awards for Southern Writing.
Susan Kinsolving is a poet whose four books have received critical acclaim from the New Yorker, the New York Times,the Los Angeles Times, and Poetry, among others. She is the recipient of five international fellowships. Her poems and libretti have been presented in numerous venues nationally and abroad.
Kiese Laymon was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He is Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi, is the author of the novel Long Division and the collection of essays How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and is the author of the memoir Heavy, which was named one of the best books of 2018 by the the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Library Journal, the Washington Post, Southern Living, Entertainment Weekly, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Tonia Lonie is the business manager for the University Press of Mississippi (UPM). She is responsible for overseeing and managing the annual budget, publishing business, and human resource operations for UPM. Tonia joined UPM in 2015 and has over 20 years of professional experience which include: public accounting, human resources, retirement plan administration, project management, grant compliance, fraud analysis, internal control reviews, fixed assets, policy development, and process improvement. Tonia earned a bachelor of business administration in accounting from Jackson State University, a master of business administration from Delta State University, and is also a Certified Fraud Examiner.
Lisa McMurtray is a Mississippi native. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Florida State University and an MA in English from Mississippi State University. She has worked at University Press of Mississippi since 2015 and currently serves as associate editor.
Mary Miller is the author of two novels, Biloxi and The Last Days of California, and two short story collections, Always Happy Hour and Big World. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, Pushcart Prize 2020, The Best of McSweeney’s Quarterly, and American Short Fiction, among others.
Stephen Monroe is chair and assistant professor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi. He is an affiliated faculty member in the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and a steering committee member at the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies. Monroe serves as director of the Willie Morris Awards for Southern Writing. His book, Heritage and Hate: Old South Words and Symbols at Southern Universities, will be published this June as part of the Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique series from the University of Alabama Press.
Oge Mora graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration. When not painting in her studio, Oge is in the kitchen cooking her late grandmother’s recipes. Her first picture book, Thank You, Omu!, was a Caldecott Honor, a New York Times Notable Book and Editors’ Choice, and a Junior Library Guild selection. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Jordan Nettles has been with the University Press of Mississippi for four years, now serving as marketing assistant and digital publishing coordinator. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and attended the Columbia Publishing Course after graduation. She is currently enrolled in the integrated marketing communication online master’s program at the University of Mississippi.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of the New York Times best-selling illustrated collection of nature essays and Kirkus Prize finalist, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, which was chosen as Barnes and Noble’s Book of the Year. She has four previous poetry collections: Oceanic, Lucky Fish, At the Drive-in Volcano, and Miracle Fruit, a collaboration of garden poems with the poet Ross Gay. Her writing appears twice in the Best American Poetry Series, the New York Times Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, and Tin House. Nezhukumatathil’s honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pushcart Prize, a Mississippi Arts Council grant, and being named a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. She is professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.
Susan Nicholas is an instructor of composition and rhetoric at the University of Mississippi where she gets to teach writing to her favorite group of people—first-year college students. She also coordinates the Willie Morris Awards for Southern Writing.
Catarina Passidomo is the Southern Foodways Alliance Associate Professor of Southern Studies and associate professor of anthropology at the University of Mississippi. She is interested primarily in studying food systems to better understand and contest broader social systems and phenomena. She has published articles in Food, Culture, and Society; Urban Studies; Geoforum; Agriculture and Human Values; the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development; and ACME; and has contributed chapters to two edited volumes on Food Sovereignty and the food-immigration nexus. She teaches Geography 101, Southern Foodways (SST 555), and other courses in anthropology and Southern Studies.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Maurice Carlos Ruffin, a native of New Orleans, is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance. He was the recipient of the Iowa Review Award in fiction and winner of the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for Novel-in-Progress. His debut novel, We Cast a Shadow, is a dystopian satire set in the near future in the American Deep South. The book earned him the critical praise of writers such as Kiese Laymon and Roxanne Gay. He is currectly the John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi.
Maggie Smith is the award-winning author of several books of poetry, including Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, and Lamp of the Body. A 2011 recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Smith has also received several Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, two Academy of American Poets Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has been widely published, appearing in the New York Times, Tin House, the Gettysburg Review, the Southern Review, and others.
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. She holds a BFA in creative writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in hip-hop. She can also still rap if needed. Angie is the inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, "The Hate U Give," started as a senior project in college. It was later acquired by the Balzer + Bray imprint of HarperCollins publishers in a thirteen-publisher auction and debuted at number 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List. "The Hate U Give" was later adapted into a critically acclaimed film from Fox 2000, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by George Tillman Jr. Angie’s second novel, "On the Come Up," reached number 1 New York Times Best Sellers List as well. In 2020 Angie released "Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Truth" as a tool to help aspiring writers tell their stories. In 2021 Angie returned to the world of Garden Heights with "Concrete Rose," the prequel to "The Hate U Give," and focuses on seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter.