June 5th-6th | Newnan, Georgia

"Center of the Universe" by David Boyd, Jr.

Southern LitFest 2015

A Celebration of All Things Southern

Join us for our inaugural LitFest weekend starting with “Bourbon on the Porch” Friday evening in the historic district. On Saturday, celebrate great literary works by Southern authors discussed by top Southern scholars, works by new authors, a literary lunch and Southern dinner, plus much more along the way!
Centered around a wonderful old town square, events are within easy walking distance. Venues include Georgia’s oldest existing Carnegie Library (c. 1903), the courtroom of the c.1904 Coweta County Courthouse (a popular movie and TV locale) and some of Newnan’s most inviting porches.



Friday, June 5th
5:30-7:30 PM

Bourbon on the Porch

Greenville-LaGrange Historic District

The weekend begins on Friday evening with a progressive tour of four classic porches, each featuring a different bourbon concoction. These well-loved southern recipes will be served up along with some interesting and unusual entertainment. This is an excellent opportunity to see friends and meet new people. Afterwards, an easy stroll down city sidewalks serves up a diversity of dining experiences and evening entertainment.

Saturday, June 6th
10:00 AM

William Faulkner’s Civil War

Newnan Carnegie Library Auditorium
1 LaGrange Street

Dr. Jay Watson is recognized internationally for his research and writing on William Faulkner. According to Watson, Faulkner sometimes dramatizes Civil War events directly in his fiction and other times dramatizes individual or communal acts of remembering or memorializing the war. Jay Watson will navigate his audience through this transformation of one of the most renowned and legendary authors from the South.

Saturday, June 6th

Best of the New South: John Warley

Historic Newnan Courthouse: Courtroom
Downtown Square

John Warley’s inspiration for A Southern Girl draws from his real life experience of adopting a Korean baby into an aristocratic family. Warley’s first novel was chosen by the University of South Carolina’s Story River Books to initiate their publishing of fiction. Lifelong friend and former Citadel classmate, Pat Conroy termed this book, “as stylish as a novel by John Irving and as tightly written as one by John Grisham. I wish I’d written this book.” Chosen by Southern Living magazine as one of the “five best reads of the summer”. Booksigning to follow.

Saturday, June 6th

James Dickey and Life: The Making of Three Poems

Newnan Carnegie Library Auditorium
1 LaGrange Street

James Dickey wrote poetry of ostensibly personal experience writ large with the grand themes of man’s place on earth and his confrontation with the extraordinary or the horrible. For three of his better poems, “The Performance,” “Haunting the Maneuvers,” and “The Fall,” he recounted personal experiences that deeply touched his life and reflected themes and situations he treated repeatedly in his work. And yet the striking visual images on which these poems turn (and which Dickey carefully describes) can come from no other source than photographs in three issues of Life magazine that appeared in the decade after World War II. Study of these poems shows us how, as Dickey himself said, poems “can come from things that actually happened to you or things that someone has told you about…The main thing the poet must remember is, never to be bound by facts because he’s not trying to tell the truth. He’s trying to make it.” … Ward Briggs

Saturday, June 6th

A Southern Dinner

The Newnan Centre
1515 Lower Fayetteville Road (Directions)

Join friends and our literary guests at Newnan’s Centre – an easy drive from Newnan’s town square. Come early 6:30-7 for happy hour and visiting – and then celebrate all things Southern with incredible barbecue and all the fixings, craft beer and wine, plus other specialties by Atlanta’s Finest Catering. (whom you may have seen on Catering Wars and Family Feud this spring – in true Southern fashion they take food and family seriously).

To make A Southern Dinner even more fun we will be serenaded by internationally-known tenor, Morehouse Professor of Voice and Music (and Atlanta Braves opener), Timothy Miller with songs of Georgia and well-loved scores for a truly unforgettable evening. Wrapping up - a spirited bidding auction featuring “must haves” --things you never knew you wanted but now must have to complete your memorable weekend at Southern Litfest 2015.

This closing event will bringing to an end the celebration of all things Southern. Expect the unexpected!

And while you are here...why not follow the Southern Literary Trail to nearby Moreland, birthplace of Erskine Caldwell and Lewis Grizzard, and a little further to Senoia, setting of many favorite movies and now in production on “The Walking Dead”? Market Square features local artisans and farm fresh produce on Saturday morning; bluegrass players on the courthouse steps invite you to join in. Small local shops, boutiques and restaurants ring the square and walking maps of surrounding historic districts are available.

Parking Map | Film Sites


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Jay Watson

University of Mississippi Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies Jay Watson, a native of Athens, Georgia, has been a member of the Ole Miss faculty for 25 years. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Georgia, and masters and doctoral degrees, both in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University.

Watson has served as President of the William Faulkner Society, and is currently Director of the annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference at the University of Mississippi and co-editor of the forthcoming conference volumes, Faulkner’s Geographies, Fifty Years After Faulkner, and Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas. He has served as Visiting Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Turku and Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland and is the recipient of the 2012 Faculty Achievement Award and 2014 Humanities Teacher of the Year. Watson’s articles on Southern literature and humanities have been featured in several publications, including American Quarterly, American Literature and Modern Fiction Studies.

According to Watson, “For me as a literature professor, teaching is primarily about bringing energy to the classroom, conveying enthusiasm and excitement about the material, asking good questions – and modeling how to ask them – and challenging students to get out of their comfort zones, take intellectual chances and enjoy the conversation about what writing – including their writing – can do.”


Emma Bolden

Emma Bolden received a BLA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University. She is a self described poet, prose-writer, professor, ponderer, putterer, and professional cat-wrangler. Bolden is the author of three chapbooks of poetry: "How To Recognize A Lady" published as part of Edge by Edge, The Mariner’s Wife, and The Sad Epistles. Her poems about witches, ships, boys, and her Catholic school experience have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, the Indiana ReviewFeminist StudiesThe JournalRedividerThe Greensboro Review, and Verse. Her many awards include the Cleveland State University Press’ First Book Prize, the Perugia Press Prize, the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize, and the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award.. She was named a finalist for a Ruth Lily Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation/Poetry magazine.

A native of Alabama and former assistant professor at Auburn, Bolden now lives in Statesboro, Georgia, where she writes, teaches creative writing at Georgia Southern University, and takes too many photographs of her cats. In Rate My Professor students defined her as “She knows exactly what she is doing, is very helpful and a lot of fun. Basically she is like a young wizard.”


John Warley

A native South Carolinian of aristocratic southern lineage, John Warley is a graduate of the Citadel and the University of Virginia School of Law. He practiced law in Virginia until 1993 when he moved to Mexico to write and teach. Now a full-time writer, Warley divides his time between Beaufort, South Carolina, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. His previous books include Bethesda's Child and The Moralist and he is currently working on his next novel, a historical fiction set in SC during the Civil War, a coming-of-age love story between a twelve year old Southern boy and a fourteen year old abolitionist girl scheduled to be published in Spring, 2016.

Warley and his late wife Barbara have three sons, Caldwell, Nelson, and Carter, born in Newport News, Virginia, and a daughter, MaryBeth, born in Seoul, South Korea.

About A Southern Girl

Set against the exquisite, historical backdrop of Charleston's insular South of Broad neighborhood, A Southern Girl is a tale of international adoption and of families lost, then found anew through revelations, courage, and the perseverance of a love without bounds.

According to Pat Conroy, this is “the best book I've ever read about Charleston's mysterious and glittering high society… as stylish as a novel by John Irving and as tightly written as one by John Grisham. I wish I'd written this book”. A Southern Girl was chosen as Southern Living magazine’s “five best reads of the summer” and will be out in paperback this spring.


Ward Briggs

One of the foremost academics in his field, Ward Briggs is South Carolina's Distinguished Professor of Classics and Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Humanities Emeritus. A lifelong friend of James Dickey's, Ward is the editor of “The Complete Poems of James Dickey” listed recently by the Center for the Book as “a book every Georgian should read”.

He has taught Latin Literature of the Golden Age and the Classical Tradition to undergraduates and continues to teach in the Honors College. His research interests are Virgil and the history of American classical scholarship. He edited the journal Virgilius for ten years and is the author or editor of 10 books and numerous articles and reviews. He was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, NJ and is working on a biography of the American classicist Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve.


Timothy Miller

A native of Augusta, Georgia, tenor Timothy Miller earned his B.A. degree from Morehouse College and M.M. degree from Mannes College of Music in Manhattan. He has performed with local, national, and international opera companies. In June of 2008 he sang the role of Crab Man in critically acclaimed performances of Porgy and Bess at the Opéra-Comique in Paris and on tour in Luxembourg, Granada, and Normandy.

He has appeared in concert performances of Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, and a concert version of excerpts from Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Timothy has been a participant in both the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy and the Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre Institute in San Francisco, California. 

Perhaps most widely recognized for his stirring renditions of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch of Atlanta Braves home games, Timothy Miller has extended his exposure well beyond the concert stage. Soloist for the 2011 Georgia Gubernatorial Inauguration Ceremony, featured artist promos for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and featured artist in the December 2012 edition of The Atlantan Magazine “Patrons and Players” rounds out a growing list of memorable career highlights.

In addition to performing, Mr. Miller is an Adjunct Professor of Voice and Music at Morehouse College.


Jamil Zainaldin

Introducer: Dr. Jay Watson “William Faulkner’s Civil Wars”

President of Georgia Humanities, Dr. Jamil Zainaldin has had a career steeped in history, law and public policy. After completing his PhD in history at the University of Chicago, Zainaldin taught for four years first at Northwestern University and then at Case Western Reserve University. His interest in public policy became evident when he headed to Washington to take a position on a legislative task force on social security, women and aging. After a year with a policy think tank, he accepted the position of deputy director of the American Historical Association. Four years later he moved to the Federation of State Humanities Councils where he stimulated the state councils to think about who they were and what they could contribute to the public. After 11 years in Washington dealing with advocacy and administrative issues, Zainaldin returned in 1997 to his native Georgia to head the Georgia Humanities, where he has the opportunity to work directly on projects that bring humanities, and especially history, to the people of Georgia.

You can catch his weekly column, Jamil’s Georgia in The Saporta Report online.

The Georgia Humanities is a sponsor of Southern Litfest 2015.


Melissa Dickson

Introducing Ward Briggs will be Newnan’s own famous poet, Melissa Dickson.  She is the author of two poetry collections: Cameo and Sweet Aegis, Medusa Poems. Her work has appeared in Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, North American Review, The Bitter SouthernerSouthern Womens' ReviewGravyGraze and Cumberland River Review.Her poems have been anthologized in 33Chinaberries and Crows, and Ghostfishing, an ecopoetry anthology to be published by the University of Georgia Press in 2016. Most recently, Melissa co-edited Stone, River, Sky an anthology of Georgia poems and poets.  She is a professor at the University of West Georgia and a frequent contributor to Newnan/Coweta magazine.

Southern Litfest Painting

"Center of the Universe"

David Boyd, Jr.