For those of you who may believe that the literary capitals of the world are always elsewhere, look no further than Oxford, Mississippi, a land filled with a campus that hosts numerous writing and literary conferences throughout the year and the home of none other than William Faulkner. At the end of March, four of the Sequoya Review staff including Emily Cahoon, Courtney Lachapelle, as well as myself plus the poet Kelly Myracle, attended the Southern Literary Festival hosted by Ole Miss. The three day conference featured panels hosted by published poets, authors, and screenplay writers who were willing to give us brief lectures on the secrets of their trade, how to get published, and as well as simply sharing their inspiring work with us.
We had the honor of hearing the poetry of Carey Scott Wilkerson, whose readings from his book Threading Stone inspired us so much that we simply had to tell him in person (while also handing him a copy of our magazine of course!). In Threading Stone he covers the motif of Ariadne leading Theseus through the labyrinth, but he covers it in such an astounding number of ways and expounds it to seemingly unrelated subjects that you are left breathless at the leaps his verse make and in awe of the unnerving connection that is made at the end of it all. To find out more about Mr. Wilkerson, click here
Besides the poetry panel, we also attended a class which covered an anthology that addresses the racism in William Faulkner’s work by collecting the African American poets response to said body of work. Chiyuma Elliot hosted the event alongside Derrick Harriell, and although the anthology has yet to be released, the teaser we recieved definitely make it a book to look out for.
One of the milestones of our trip that we feel as though no one should go without when taking a trip to Oxford is the “Square Books” store that occupies two floors, and has two other stores – “Square Jr.” for kids, and “Off Square Books” for those of you looking for either a gag book, coffee table reading, or anything out of ordinary. In a world occupied by corporate chain bookstores, it is was thrilling to see a book seller thriving from open to close.
Another milestone that is worth seeing is William Faulkner’s estate called Rowan Oaks. Not only is this the place where many of Faulkner’s works were conceived, the location itself is stunning, with magnolia’s towering over what must have at one time been an exquisite garden while it was maintained. The stables nearby and troughs attest to the fact that the rural south was a living locale to him, just as it comes through in so many of his works.
It was during this trip that Kelly received her award and recognition for earning 1st Place in the festival’s poetry competition. Also, the Sequoya Review for the 2013-14 issue won 2nd place in the “Literary Magazine” category. Special thanks to all of our staff, writers, and poets that made this possible!
I would like to also give a special thanks to the UTC English Department for funding the trip, as well as Rowan Johnson and Sybil Baker for accompanying us.
—- Rachel Ford