Mississippi is Making Waves with Poetry

Did you know?

  • Mississippi is the home of the US Poet Laureate AND the Poetry Out Loud National Champion!
  • Mississippi has two nonprofit organizations that sponsor poetry events? The Mississippi Poetry Society (MPS) and the Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG)
  • Contests are offered twice a year by MPS
  • Workshops are offered at least once a year by MWG

Wynne Huddleston with Natasha Trethewey at Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS

Mississippi is really making waves in the ocean of poetry! Not only has State Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey been named our US Poet Laureate, Kristen Dupard has been named 2012  Poetry Out Loud National Champion!

Kristen Dupard

From a competitive field of some 365,000 students nationwide, Kristen Dupard, a senior at Ridgeland High School in Ridgeland, Mississippi, won the title of 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion at the National Finals held in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. With her achievement, Dupard also received a $20,000 award and her high school, Ridgeland High School, received a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

The Poetry Out Loud National Finals were held at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C. Dupard was among nine finalists and 53 state champions from across the country who participated in the seventh national poetry recitation contest, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A two-time Mississippi State Champion, Dupard has made two trips to Washington, DC to compete in the national recitation contest. It was her first year to advance from the Poetry Out Loud Semifinals. Dupard’s final recitation for the evening was “Invitation to Love,” a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, widely acknowledged as the first important black poet in American literature. Dupard also recited Philip Levine’s “What Work Is” and Cornelius Eady’s “I’m a Fool to Love You.” Dupard named current U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine’s “What Work Is” as her favorite poem; she found it “especially relevant since so many people have worked hard to get here to the National Finals.”

She recently performed these poems for us at the Mississippi Writers Guild 6th Annual Conference in Jackson, MS. (also see review of the MWG Conference Sessions). I was very impressed with her performance! We are looking forward to hearing her again at the Mississippi Poetry Society Fall Festival in Belhaven, MS on Oct. 20, 2012! And on that subject, this the 80 year anniversary of MPS. Our anthology, Mississippi Milestone, will be on hand at the Fall Festival. Be sure to enter the contests. There are 18 categories plus a free contest for students.  Details are here. Winners will be published in the Mississippi Contest Journal. MPS sponsors contests twice a year in conjunction with the Fall Festival and the Spring Festival. The South Branch of MPS also has a literary contest (details on same site).

Other poetry events include the Mississippi Writers Guild‘s yearly “Experience Poetry” hosted by Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, MS. This event includes a workshop and readings by nationally known poets followed by a panel discussion.

It’s an exciting time for poets in Mississippi!


 Since…Don’t Forget 

A Decade Since
by Wynne Huddleston
Don’t forget the horror
Don’t forget the tears
Don’t forget the despair
although it’s been 10 years.
Don’t forget the men and women
who sacrificed their lives
to save someone else’s daughters,
and sons or husbands and wives.
But we must remember this—
how quickly we joined as one
in grief and anger and love
fighting through fire and stone
to rescue and comfort each other.
Boundaries of politics, race
and religion all disappeared
in the dust of this gray place.
We raised our flag and our voices here
where two tall towers had stood
America breathed and grieved
as one in love and brotherhood.
Mourning, she buried the dead,
counted the injured and lost.
Then swiftly lifted up her head
and vowed no matter the cost
such evil, viscious acts of terror
on American soil could never,
WOULD never
again be allowed to occur.
© Wynne Huddleston
Sept. 11, 2011
I was just moved to pen this poem. I’m sure I’ll change some things, but wanted to post it in remembrance for this day of sorrow. Please do not copy it, but feel free to share the link to it. Thanks!

Political/Human Rights Poems

Red, Red Rain

by Wynne Huddleston 

Red, red, red—
government control, swords
upon babies’ heads, staining
mothers’ souls.

Red, red, red—
abortion, coercion, sterilization,
feminine damnation,
perpetration, denies God’s creation.




Rein, reign, rain—
drowning full term babies
females plucked
and crushed like weeds.

Rein, reign, rain—
taking living, breathing
human beings, throwing
them away.

Infanticide, gendercide, suicide—
taken from the streets;
nowhere to hide
from the slaughter of daughters.

First version published in Poetry24, Tuesday, 14 June 2011

© Wynne Huddleston

Is Technology Killing All Things?

The world is shrinking– with more and more new technology the world is becoming closer knit. But is the world shrinking because it is killing all our stuff and maybe even killing us?

First the decline of Barnes & Noble and now the largest chain of bookstores, Borders, is closing. They could not compete with Amazon’s massive online presence. And Amazon is now selling more e-books than paper books.  Brett Arends of Market Watch warns us The bookstore massacre is coming. Not only are things like books, book stores, and cds disappearing, but cell phones may be fatal to us and other creatures!

The world is abuzz about a study (see original study) in Switzerland claiming that cell phones are killing honey bees.  Now others are saying that while the radiation may harm them, it has not been confirmed that it is killing them. Here’s a neutral view: from cnet news  which calls for a more conclusive study.

Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer? I had heard it was conclusive, but this article says more study is needed as in the case of the bees. To find out how much radiation YOUR phone is leaking see Get a Safer Phone.

Here’s my tongue-in-cheek reaction in a poem I wrote about the Kindle and other e-readers when they first appeared.

Empty Margins Rekindled

by Wynne Huddleston

We’ve come a long way—from feathered quills
to ballpoint pens, typewriters to computers;
from paper to laptops, and now, from books
to e-readers. It’s wonderful! At the touch
of a finger you can open an e-book in the new
computerized, iPhone-sized reader. Who

wants to hold a thick, new book, and have to
hold it in both hands to press it open, caress
each page as you turn it, mark your place
with an old envelope or an emery board,
and smell the newness… then have to put it
away on the shelf next to your treasured
photos, keepsakes and trophies. Who

likes the feel of ink staining permanence
as it flows like blood from their veins? Who
wants to hold in their hand a freshly sharpened
number 2 pencil in order to write? Who

wants to drag it across a waiting, virgin
white page, and have to erase or mark through;
scribble rhymes in the margins, draw arrows
and circles for what to move where, and, oh, dear,
check spelling with a real dictionary? Surely no
one wants to rekindle those days… do they?

© Wynne Huddleston

Year 2010 in Review

Review of My Year–2010

I’m a little late on looking back at 2010. At first I thought it was not a very eventful year, but upon further study it seems to be quite the opposite, especially for me as a poet–it was my first full year swimming in the world of publishing! I attended many workshops, conferences and concerts. I met a lot of new writers, publishers, editors and musicians! In retrospect, it was a great year!

Top News in 2010 wasn’t always greatthe BP Oil Spill, the war and rumors of war, of course, Julian Assange’s publication of U.S. diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks, controversy over “Obamacare,” Ground Zero Mosque, Global Warming–a big topic blamed for most of these disasters: earthquakes in Haiti, Chili and China, Guatemala Sinkhole, Machu Picchu Landslide, East Coast Blizzard, floods in Pakistan and Nashville, fires and floods in Russia, Pakistan and Peru.

Top Ten New Gadgets of 2010 were the iPad, Berkely Bionics eLEGS, Microsoft Knect, Windows Phone 7 on Samsung Focus, Sprint EVO 4G, iPhone 4, MacBook Air (11-13″ notebook), Samsung Galaxy 3 android-based notebook, Canon’s S95, and Kindle 3. Here are the Time/CNN lists for The Top 10 or Everything.  

Top Personal Happenings. My youngest son moved out (but still close by) and got engaged. The first female was born into our family since me (yes that is a long time), although my oldest sister and I have granddaughters that came into the family as adopted stepchildren. Our new baby girl is my middle sister’s first grandchild, and what a cutie!

Famous Musicians I met: I had my picture made with Morgan Freeman, Sela Ward, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Spooner Oldam, L.C. Ulmer, and singer/songwriters Walt Aldridge, Steve Dean, Don Poythress, Jimbeau Hinson, Marc-Alan, and I shook hands with Tracey Lawrence during a concert. I also became friends with legendary Chris Ethridge, Scott McQuaig, and Jacky Jack White. My song, Many More Birthdays, was performed at Relay for Life in Forest, MS at their opening ceremony.

Sweet Potatoes Come on in Party. I actually wrote a newspaper review for The Meridian Star 360 section on the musicians that performed at this party. I met a lot of great Mississippi singer/songwriters–Scott Albert Johnson, Bob Gates, Johnny Crocker, Cameron Compton, Cody Wynne Cox, Taylor Hildebrand, Jame Weems, Scott Randall Rhodes, and Hunter Gibson. I even met Jill Conner, the original Sweet Potato Queen. Unfortunately, I asked her to sign my three books I bought for $45, but she said she’d do it later. Later never came. Sigh…

My Top Poetry News. I joined the Mississippi Poetry Society as soon as I found out the particulars. I accepted the post of Secretary for the Mississippi Writers Guild. I attended four workshop/conferences in 2010: Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, AL, Mississippi Writers Guild Conference, Chattahoochee Valley Writers’ Conference in GA, Mississippi Poetry Society Fall Workshop. I had planned to meet Mississippi’s Poet Laureate, Winifred Farrar (who was my best friend’s cousin) but she passed away before I got the chance. I did meet the talented Natasha Trethewey at a book signing/reading in Jackson. She was very impressive and kind.

My 2010 Publications. Last year I had 35 poems accepted by 19 publications with 25 poems published and 10 forthcoming. I won 1st place in Grandmother Earth’s Environmental Poetry Contest, 3rd place in Mississippi Poetry Society’s Poets Anonymous Contest, and I won the Enchanted Conversation’s Daughters of Air Contest. Not fantastic, but not too bad for my first full year of submitting. Add one published in Dec. 2009, one accepted on Jan. 1, 2011 for a grand total of 37 acceptances in print and online journals and magazines plus 3 anthologies. I hope this year will be even more productive! I’ve been a slacker over the holidays, but getting an acceptance on the first day of the year was a real encouragement! Back to work—or is it play? Maybe both.

Don Poythress and Wynne Huddleston

Jimbeau Hinson and Wynne Huddleston

Marc-Alan Barnette and Wynne

Jimbeau Hinson and Brenda Fielder

This gold record was given to Jimbeau Hinson by the Oak Ridge Brothers for 2,000,000 airplays of  “Settin’ Fancy Free,” which was written by Jimbeau. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI1-7u6wi9I

Sparkle and Twang

Marty Stuart’s traveling memorabilia collection,”Sparkle and Twang,” containing about 20,000 items was on display at the MSU Riley Center July 10-Sept. 18, 2010. It is the largest country music couture collection of performance costumes, accessories, personal letters and instruments collected by country music artist Marty Stuart including Elvis Presley’s sweater, an outfit of Patsy Cline’s along with the last pair of boots that she wore, suits which belonged to Hank Williams Sr., George Jones, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Hank Thompson, David Allan Coe, Mel Tillis, The Maddox Brothers and clothes from Rose Maddox. The exhibit features handwritten lyrics such as “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams Sr. and “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Man in Black” by Johnny Cash. This is also an interactive exhibit which tells the story of Stuart’s personal experiences with some of the most famous stars of American roots music. 

When Marty was 13, he began saving money for his performance costume. He was in California to play some shows with Lester Flatt. He went to Nudie’s (a premier Western-wear shop in North Hollywood, recently closed) with $250. It was only a fraction of what an outfit cost. Manuel was working as a designer there at that time. He told him to come back one day and he’d make him a suit, and he gave him a shirt. Marty indeed came back to Manuel.

Missisisppi actress Sela Ward was present at the festivities and I was fortunate enough to get some pictures with her and the other celebrities!

Sela Ward and Wynne

Wynne and Marty Stuart

Connie Smith

Wynne and Manuel, who makes Marty Stuart’s elaborate suits

Holiday Gift Ideas

Looking for last minute gifts? Here are some great books, cds and handmade gift items by some great friends for adults and children! Gifts for everyone!

Alexander S. Brown’s horror collection Traumatized. Catch him on DEC 18, 2010 – 10AM-3:30PM at the YULETIDE SOULS FESTIVAL 2010

Annie B. McKee’s Remembering Mississippi b & w photos of Miss. past. To get an autographed copy, go to Books-A-Million, Meridian, Fri, Dec 17, 11-2 or Natchez on Sat, Dec 18, 11-2 at Carriage House Restaurant, sponsored by Cover-to-Cover Books.

Cassandra Sollie Black’s Sew and So, Embroidery and Sewing Designs

Diana Sue’s Voice Technique to order call her at 228 235-3850

Ellen C. Maze’s Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider a mix of sic-fi, drama, suspense, romance, and religion. Here is one review.

Glen Stripling’s sci-fi mystery ChronosiaFor a review of Rabbit and Chronosia, click here.

Hewitt Clarke’s six non-fiction Southern history books and another coming soon. Thunder At Meridian» Bloody Kemper » He Saw the Elephant »The East End Tea Room» War Stories from Mississippi» Mississippi Blood

Irene Latham‘s poetry books What Came Before (award winner which I own and it’s wonderful), The Color of Lost Rooms (available Dec. 21) her novel Leaving Gees’ Bend (kids and up which my granddaughter owns and loved)

John Rose’s MonsterGrrls Book 1, Out from the Shadows Great for teens and up!

June Davidson ‘s Polka Dot Patti is a great gift for the little girl on your list at only $9.95.

Kathleen  M. Rodgers’ The Final Salute won Silver Medal from Military Writers Society of America, 2009. 

Laura Shovan‘s award-winning chapbook Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone is $9.95, signed & mailed with free shipping. See her facebook events for a Holiday Book sale.

Louis Hillary Park’s Christian novel Wolf’s Run.

Mark Sheldon’s sci-fi thriller The Lost Boy (The Noricin Chronicles #1) See the trailer here. Read chapter 3 free here

Patricia Hawkenson‘s Magnetic Repulsion and her lovely handmade purses!

Patricia Neely-Dorsey’s poetry book Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia.

R.E. Smith’s book of poetry The WindowLedge  rsmith2@hotmail.com  $15.00 which includes postage for mailing.

Rick Ward has 3 books, the newest, Blood Stained Justice, The Lawmaker,  and Blood for Molasses: A Mississippi Massacre, based on a true story written in historical fiction. It is about a massacre that occurred in the Carroll County Courthouse in Carrollton, MS on March 17, 1886.

Sarah Campbell‘s award winning educational children books Wolfsnail  and Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. I gave copies of both of these to my grandchildren. They are both beautiful, entertaining and educational.



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