Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'm Going to Jackson


I've suddenly become an old fart.

Here at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, all the profs are younger than me, and downright energized:  A gracious host, Prof. Brent Fogt takes me out for a quick bite; psych prof Melissa Lea has the video projection system racked up and ready to go, and the screening and Q+A go well.  I mistake art department chair Sandra Murchison for a grad student.  She graciously chats me up about Trimpin while I contemplate my senescence. 

The next morning, I fly out of Jackson.  

Thinking back on the first half of my Southern tour, I can't get over how culturally rich this stretch of the country is:  In a very short time, I've passed through the hometowns of poet Arna Bontemps, blues harpist Little Walter, zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier, country music legend Jimmie Rodgers, country superstar Hank Williams, chef Paul Prudhomme, piano genius James Booker, baseball legend Cool Papa Bell, gospel great Claude Jeter, architect Samuel Mockbee, composer John Luther Adams, and countless others.

In the airport, a poster tells the story a different way:
  
Yes, we can read.  
Some of use can even write.

Underneath, photographs of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Willie Morris, Shelby Foote, Barry Hannah, Richard Ford, Donna Tartt.

Enough said.