OXFORD – Oxford will arguably be the center of the literary universe this week as two high-profile conferences for readers coincide here.
The 21st annual Oxford Conference for the Book will be held on the University of Mississippi campus and in the city Wednesday through Friday. The event is a confluence of fiction and nonfiction writers, journalists, artists, poets, publishers, teachers, students and literacy advocates.
“We try to have programming that will appeal to a wide variety of readers,” said Conference organizer Becca Walton. “In addition to Square Books signings and a Young Authors Fair, we have a program on documentary photography, which interests many students, and a panel on journalism led by Curtis Wilkie. Many MFA (Master of Fine Arts) students attend sessions as well.
“One of the sessions that I’m most excited about is the Lafayette County Literacy Council’s program on adult and family literacy,” Walton added.
All Oxford Conference for the Book sessions are free and open to the public. The conference is sponsored by numerous departments at Ole Miss as well as the Junior Auxiliary of Oxford, Lafayette County-Oxford Public Library, Lafayette County Literacy Council, Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance, the Southern Literary Trail and Square Books.
The Southern Literary Festival will be held at Ole Miss on Thursday through Saturday. A collaboration of 25 universities and colleges, SLF is essentially an undergraduate writing conference, a writing competition and readings by well-known writers.
While Southern Literary Festival workshops are open only to attendees from member schools, readings will be held in conjunction with the Conference for the Book and will be free and open to the public. In addition, festivalgoers will join the public at “A Celebration of North Mississippi Hill Country Blues Music” on Friday night at the Powerhouse.
More than 50 authors and other literary professionals are scheduled to participate in the two literary events. Among them are novelist and Ole Miss Writer-in-Residence Megan Abbott, crime novelist Ace Atkins, former Boston Globe editor Ben Bradlee, publisher Amy Einhorn, poet Chiyuma Elliott, novelist Tom Franklin, poet and editor Derrick Harriell, poet and cabinetmaker Steve Scafidi, chef and writer Robert St. John and journalist and historian Curtis Wilkie.