Annual book conference begins today in Oxford

OXFORD – Journalists, authors and readers will converge on Oxford today for the publishing industry’s annual rite of spring, the Oxford Conference for the Book.

The 16th annual conference runs through Saturday and is sponsored by several departments and programs at the University of Mississippi and educational, artistic, civic, tourism and commercial entities in the region.

Several events today will focus on Walter Anderson, the late Gulf coast artist, naturalist and author. This evening, the weekly “Thacker Mountain Radio” variety program at Off Square Books will feature David Mariniss, a Pulitzer-winning journalist and Bill Clinton biographer, along with “shake-a-billy” musician Rachel Goodrich and Joseph Decosimo, an old-time fiddler and banjo player.

Nearly 1,000 schoolchildren will join the audience Friday to hear from Trenton Lee Stewart, who writes for young readers. Other Friday features will be poetry readings along with discussions of readers as an endangered species, portraying politicians and the 100th anniversary of Eudora Welty’s birth.

Saturday will reprise the readers-as-endangered-species session, while new sessions will focus on “the sport of writing,” a session for high-school students with author Jay Asher and readings by several authors.

Ted Ownby, executive director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, will moderate a session on “writing after Katrina.”

“The session is not about writing about the hurricane, but instead it is about how the process of writing is affected by a disaster,” Ownby said.

University of Mississippi theatre arts students are slated to perform the American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” at 8 p.m. each night of the conference in Fulton Chapel, with a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The event will end Saturday evening with a marathon book signing at Off Square Books.

For more information, a complete schedule or to register, call (662) 915-5993 or visit www.oxfordconferenceforthebook.com.

Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/Daily Journal