College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Oxford American Magazine: Grisham Writer-in-Residence Kiese Laymon & Da Art of Storytellin’

Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon, 2015-16 Grisham-Writer-in-Residence

Kiese Laymon, John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi Department of English, in the Oxford American: A Magazine of the South (Winter 2015):

“What my English teachers didn’t say was that literary voices aren’t discovered fully formed. They aren’t natural or organic. Literary voices are built and shaped—and not just by words, punctuation, and sentences, but by the author’s intended audience and a composition’s form. It was only after listening to ATLiens, discovering Toni Cade Bambara’s Southern Collective of African-American Writers, and reading the work of my Mama’s former student, the hip-hop journalist Charlie Braxton, that I realized in order to get where I needed to go as a human being and an artist, in order to release my own spacey stank blues, I had to write fiction. Toni Cade, Charlie, Dre, and Big showed me it was possible to create and hear imaginary worlds wholly fertilized with ‘maybe,’ ‘if,’ and ‘probably.'”

Read Kiese Laymon’s story, Da Art of Storytellin’ (A Prequel) >>

Watch Kiese Laymon’s presentation at the Southern Foodways Alliance 18th annual symposium at the University of Mississippi: