Southern Writing in the 21st Century: a panel conversation

southern writing panel conversation 18
Monday, September 10
Convocation Hall
Southern Writing in the 21st Century: a panel with Kiese Laymon, John Grammer, Michael Griffith, Elyzabeth Wilder, and Caroline Randall Williams.
Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is currently the Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa in Fall 2017.  Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division, and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, New York Times, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Fader, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony, Travel and Leisure, Paris Review and Guernica. He has two books forthcoming, including a memoir called Heavy out in October 2018 and a novel, And So On, in 2019, both from Scribner.

John Grammer is Professor of English at the University of the South. He served as Director of the School of Letters for 12 years and teaches classes in British and American Literature, American Studies, and Sewanee’s interdisciplinary Humanities Program. He received his BA at Vanderbilt University and his PhD at the University of Virginia.  His 1996 book Pastoral and Politics in the Old South won the C. Hugh Holman Award as the best book of the year in Southern literary study. His essays and reviews have appeared in American Literary History, The Oxford American, The Southern Literary Journal, the Sewanee Review and other journals, and in such books as The Dictionary of Literary Biography, The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, and Blackwell’s Guide to the Literature and Culture of the American South.

Michael Griffith's books are Trophy, Bibliophilia: A Novella and Stories and Spikes: A Novel; his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in New England Review, Salmagundi, Oxford American, Southwest Review, Five Points, Virginia Quarterly Review, Golf World, and The Washington Post, among other periodicals. He is completing a new nonfiction book called Windfalls in the Bone Orchard. His work has been honored by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Humanities Center, the Taft Foundation, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Griffith was educated at Princeton and Louisiana State University. Formerly Associate Editor of the Southern Review, he is now Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and Fiction Editor of the Cincinnati Review. He is also the Editor of Yellow Shoe Fiction, an original-fiction series from LSU Press. He is a fiction professor in the School of Letters. 
Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s plays include Gee's Bend, Fresh Kills, The Flagmaker of Market Street, The Furniture of Home, White Lightning, and Provenance. Most recently her play, Everything That’s Beautiful, premiered at the New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Commissions and workshops include A Requiem for August Moon (Pioneer Theatre), The Bone Orchard (Denver Center, Great Plains Theatre Conference), and a short play for the acclaimed My America, Too project (Baltimore Center Stage), as well as four commissions from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.  She is currently completing a new play, co-commissioned by the Sloan Foundation and the Geva Theatre, that explores racial bias and the development of color photography. Her play, The Light of the World, will be featured in the Southern Writers’ Festival at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in October. Most recently, Wilder traveled with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival on 10 day speaking and listening tour which explored the “State of the South” and the changing face of Southern identity. Wilder is the recipient of the Osborn Award given by the American Theatre Critics Association and is a graduate of the dramatic writing program at New York University. 
Caroline Randall Williams was chosen by Southern Living as one of “50 People Changing the South in 2015” for her healthy soul food remix, Soul Food Love: Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family, co-authored with her mother, Alice Randall.  A graduate of the MFA program at the University of Mississippi. Williams was a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at West Virginia University and is currently Writer-In-Residence at Fisk University.  Her first collaboration with her mother, The Diary of B.B. Bright, Possible Princess, won the Phillis Wheatley prize and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. Her book of poetry, Lucy Negro Redux was published by Ampersand Books. It is described by Erica Wright in a review appearing in the Nashville Scene as a "genre-challenging poetry collection (that) gamble in that riskiest of risky literary arenas, Shakespeare's personal life. And (the poems) do so with such grit, music and honesty that readers will find themselves rooting for the poet's theory — that Shakespeare once had a black lover and immortalized her in verse — to be true."