College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Grisham Writer-in-Residence is Panelist for National Poetry Month Event

Prize-winning poet and translator James “Jimmy” Kimbrell, Grisham writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi, is a panelist for the 16th annual Oxford Conference for the Book, scheduled March 26-28.

Kimbrell, who completes his yearlong residency at UM in May, will serve on a panel celebrating National Poetry Month at 1:30 p.m. March 27 in Fulton Chapel. This and all book conference sessions are free and open to the public.

“I’m thrilled to be a participant (in the book conference), especially in a year that celebrates the work of Walter Anderson,” Kimbrell said. “I’ve been a fan of his since I was a student at Millsaps. I visited the museum years before Katrina, and have several of his prints at my home in Florida.” (The conference celebrates the life and legacy of Anderson, a native Mississippian and one of America’s greatest artists.)

The author of two volumes of poems, “The Gatehouse Heaven” (Sarabande Books, 1998) and “My Psychic” (Sarabande Books, 2006), Kimbrell assumed his post in UM’s Department of English in August as the newest recruit for the 15-year-old program, which embraces emerging Southern writers.

With Yu Jung-yul, Kimbrell has translated “Three Poets of Modern Korea: Yi Sang, Hahm Dong-seon and Choi Young-mi” (Sarabanbe Books, 2002). His work has been included in “The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets” (University Press of New England, 2000) “American Poetry: The Next Generation” and “Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century” (Sarabande Books, 2006).

Kimbrell is an associate professor who directs the creative writing program at Florida State University. He holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Virginia, the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, and Millsaps College. Kimbrell has been the recipient of the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the “Discovery”/Nation Award, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, and has twice received the Academy of American Poets Prize.

Kimbrell’s poems, reviews and translations have appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Poetry, Field, Fence, The Nation, Prairie Schooner and The Boston Book Review. He recently received a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship in poetry.

Patrick Quinn, chair of the English department, said he and his faculty are tremendously impressed with Kimbrell.

“We were impressed with the rich, poetic voice Jimmy Kimbrell is bringing to American poetry,” he said. “We felt his academic background and his creative writing experience made him an ideal match for our students, and this has proved to be true.”

The annual appointment, including housing and a stipend, is funded by the Grishams, who were Oxford residents for several years. Recipients are invited to teach writing workshops and participate in department activities while continuing to write.

“I felt – and still feel – humbled (to have been selected),” Kimbrell said. “More importantly, I feel compelled to work as hard as I can to make the most of this rare opportunity.”

A native of Jackson, Kimbrell revisits his childhood and returns with poems that fathom meaning yet retain a sense of awe. His prize-winning, debut collection features a 10-part poem portraying a son’s struggle to connect with a father made absent by mental and physical illness. His sophomore release also strikes a somber tone, commemorating his mother in 15 untitled free verse elegies.

“I’ve been a bit restless stylistically in my first two collections,” Kimbrell said. “Lately, I have mostly been working in traditional forms, the sonnet primarily or my somewhat-modified version of it.”

Kimbrell said he is working on a third book titled “The Sand Reckoner.”

“This book consists of a long series of sonnets that focus on the intersecting points between family history and the history of rural South Mississippi,” he said.

For more information about the John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence program, call 662-915-7439. To learn more about the Department of English, visit https://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english .