Mercer University Press News

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Cherry Blossom Festival

International Cherry Blossom Festival

Macon, Georgia — March 17–April 3, 2016

Spring is now here, as the days are getting longer and warmer. The birds are chirping and the bees are buzzing and dancing until they find a blossom on which to land. Along with the season of rebirth comes the 24th Annual International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia.

Each March, Macon becomes a pink, cotton-spun paradise when 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees bloom in all their glory. For ten days, festival-lovers are treated to one of the most extravagant displays of springtime color in the nation as they visit the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.

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The story begins when William A. Fickling Sr., a local realtor, discovered the first Yoshino cherry tree in Macon while strolling about in his backyard. The year was 1949. Thanks to Fickling’s propagating efforts, thousands of trees have since been planted around Macon. The idea of a Cherry Blossom Festival didn’t take root until one day at a company picnic Fickling spoke to a woman named Carolyn Crayton after admiring the Yoshino’s unique beauty. While discussing the trees, Carolyn came up with an idea.

“I shared with him a dream of mine, one where the entire town was bursting with thousands of the graceful pink cherry trees. I asked if he would donate trees to plant in my neighborhood of Wesleyan Woods, and he generously agreed, helping my dream become a reality,” said the future festival founder.

To start the project, Fickling agreed to donate the trees if Crayton would organize the planting. In a community wide effort, families, companies, and volunteers began planting what would eventually add up to 500 Yoshino cherry trees by 1973. Macon was now blossoming pink every March.

As executive director of the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, Crayton proposed officially launching a Cherry Blossom Festival in celebration of the beauty of the trees and also to honor Fickling for his contributions.

In 1982, the International Cherry Blossom Festival was born, which was built on three basic principles—love, beauty, and international friendship.

Since it’s grassroots beginnings, the festival has become one of the Top 20 Events in the South, Top 50 Events in the US, and Top 100 Events in North America. The festival has since expanded from thirty events over three days to a month-long celebration featuring hundreds of events entertaining people of all ages and backgrounds.

In 2014, Mercer University Press published a history of the festival entitled The Pinkest Party on Earth: Macon, Georgia’s International Cherry Blossom Festival written by Ed Grisamore, award-winning author and then columnist for The Macon Telegraph.

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The Pinkest Party on Earth: Macon Georgia’s International Cherry Blossom Festival
By author: Ed Grisamore

The 34th Annual International Cherry Blossom Festival is now underway. For additional information, visit their website or contact the Festival Headquarters at 478-330-7050.
https://www.cherryblossom.com/

Book lovers should mark their calendar for the Cherry Blossom Authors Luncheon on Tuesday, March 29, at 11:30 am at the Idle Hour Country Club. Treat yourself to a lovely Southern lunch and hear three fine Southern authors speak and sign books.
https://www.cherryblossom.com/event/authors-luncheon-presented-by-burgess-pigment-company/

The Earliest Spring of Your Life?

Spring will arrive early this year, due to a quirky leap year in 2016. Have you noticed that the equinox used to happen on March 21st? This year, depending on your time zone in the northern hemisphere, Spring will begin on either the 19th or the 20th of March.

As it turns out, that extra day in February has consequences beyond making it hard to plan a birthday party. But let’s backtrack to the year 2000. The year 2000 marked the first time in four centuries a year divisible by 100 didn’t skip the leap year. In other words, a February 29 did occur in 2000 and it was the first century year with a leap day since Galileo was peering into a vertically angled telescope.

Now we won’t get into the nitty gritty of our Gregorian Calendar, but basically in our calendar system if a year is divisible by 400, only then will it be a leap year.

The consequence of that little move will affect us during this next month. Because 2000 was an unorthodox year for us, solstices and equinoxes began to occur earlier and earlier. The usual century leap year prevented the calendar from jumping back.

In case you haven’t noticed, Spring began on March 21 when you were little, but it’s been falling on the 20th for some years now. This year, the first day of Spring will fall on the 19th of March for most US time zones.

This means 2016 will have the earliest Spring since 1896! Later this century, Spring will begin on the 19th of March every year. Then, the next glitch won’t occur until February 29, 4000.

How does it feel to experience history?

Oh, and don’t forget to “Spring” forward this Sunday, March 13th, at 2:00 am—as most of the US changes the clock an hour ahead for Daylight Savings Time.

For Those of You Who Want a Little More Background…
The numbers of days in a year aren’t even, but you knew that already. Our calendar system adds one day every fourth year to accommodate this fact. But, because Earth spins a little less than 365 ¼ times per year, we must rid the calendar of that extra once-every-four-year day, and that’s what will happen again in the year 4000.

Women’s History

Mercer University Press Celebrates Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month first gained a national stage in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, both authorizing and requesting that the President proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as Women’s History Week. Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as Women’s History Week. The National Women’s History Project petitioned for the month of March to be dedicated to Women’s History. Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to dedicate March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.

adapted from the government website: http://womenshistorymonth.gov/about.html

Check out the fascinating women highlighted in the books listed below. Click links for more information on each book and author. All titles in stock.

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Suffer and Grow Strong: The Life of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1834-1907
By Carolyn Newton Curry

97808814652

Fresh Water from Old Wells: A Memoir
By Cindy Henry McMahon

97808814645
The Second Bud: Deserting the City for a Farm Winery
By Martha M. Ezzard

97808814627

A Titanic Love Story: Ida and Isidor Straus
By author: June Hall McCash

97808814623

A Light on Peachtree: A History of the Atlanta Woman’s Club
By author: Anne B. Jones

97808655474

Life in Dixie during the War
By Mary A. H. Gay; edited by J. H. Segars

97808655487

The Power of Woman: The Life and Writings of Sarah Moore Grimke (1792-1873)
By Pamela Durso
97808814641

The Life and Letters of Emily Chubbuck Judson: Volume 1; Biographies and Timelines
(7 volumes in all)
Edited by George H. Tooze

Happy Birthday Abe!

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday February 12

On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of America’s most admired presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was born into a poor family in Kentucky.
Lincoln was the tallest president at 6′ 4 with record physical strength. He was a formidable wrestler in Illinois. Lincoln went on to become infamous for his dry humor and wit. After frustrating defeat after another Lincoln reportedly wrote to a general “if you are not using the army I should like to borrow it for awhile.” Lincoln was also an avid animal lover throughout his lifetime once saying “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”

He attended school for only one year, but even as a child Abraham was a voracious reader constantly striving to improve is mind. As an adult, he lived in Illinois bouncing from job to job before entering politics. Many people are unaware of the fact that Lincoln didn’t begin his journey in politics. Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, was also a postmaster, surveyor and shopkeeper. After this small chapter in his life Lincoln went on to pursue politics.

Before the presidency Lincoln served in the Illinois legislature from 1834 to 1836, and then became an attorney. In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd; and had four sons. Lincoln returned to politics during the 1850s, when disagreements over slavery began to escalate. Lincoln proposed a restriction of slavery to the states where it existed. As president on January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.

 

For Civil War Enthusiasts….

Upcoming Civil War titles:

A Just and Holy Cause?

Cracking the Solid South:The Life of John Fletcher Hanson, Father of Georgia Tech

Summon Only the Brave!: Commanders, Soldiers, and Chaplains at Gettysburg

Confederate Sharpshooter Major William E. Simmons: Through the War with the 16th Georgia Infantry and 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters

Announcement of Winners — 2015 Mercer University Press Book Awards

Mercer University Press is pleased to announce with a resounding round of applause the winners of the 26th Annual Mercer University Press Book Awards. Each 2015 winner receives a $500 advance and book contract for publication during the Spring/Summer 2017 season.

Ashley Mace Havird was named winner of The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction for her manuscript entitled Lightningstruck.

 
Past recipients of this award include: Mary Anna Bryan, Marly Youmans, Raymond L. Atkins, Stephen Roth, and Dale Cramer.

 
The judge’s comments—“Lightningstruck is a compelling, wonderfully textured (rich sense of place and people) story of eleven-year-old Etta’s twelfth year in rural South Carolina.”

 
Katy Giebenhain was named winner of The Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry for her collection of poems entitled The Patron Saint of T1D.

 
Past recipients of this award include: Lesley Dauer, Seaborn Jones, Kelly Whiddon, Megan Sexton, and Philip Lee Williams.

 
The judge’s comments—”Really fantastic poems, start to finish. Spectacular images, accessible but complex and well-organized—beautiful through and through.”

 
Christopher Martin was named winner of The Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction for his collection of essays entitled This Gladdening Light: Reflections on Fatherhood and Faith.

 
Past recipients of this award include: William E. Merritt, Kathy A. Bradley and Joseph Bathanti.

 
The judge’s comments—”Martin writes honestly with sincere insight that is both confessional and inspiring. His insight into the ‘ordinary’ events of life will resonate with any reader.”

 

The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction is given to the best manuscript that speaks to the human condition in a Southern context. This category includes both novels and short stories.

 
The Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry is given to the best manuscript that exemplifies the poetic language and vision of the author.

 
The Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction is given to the best manuscript that speaks to the human condition in a Southern context. This category includes memoir, natural history, essays, and other genres of nonfiction.

 
Mercer University Press, established in 1979, has published more than 1400 books in the genres of Southern Studies, History, Civil War History, African American Studies, Appalachian Studies, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Poetry, Religion, Biblical Studies, and Philosophy. Publishing authors from across the United States and abroad, Mercer University Press focuses on topics related to the culture of the South. The reputation of the Press significantly enhances the academic environment of Mercer University and carries the name of Mercer and Macon, Georgia throughout the world.

Announcement of Winners — 2014 Mercer University Press Book Awards

Mercer University Press is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Annual Book Awards. Each 2014 award comes with a $500 advance and a book contract for publication in Spring 2016.

Mary Anna Bryan has been awarded the 2014 Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction for her submission entitled Cardinal Hill.

Past recipients of this award include Marly Youmans, Raymond L. AtkinsStephen Roth, and Dale Cramer.

Judge’s comment: “The writer of this novel displays a talent for description, dialogue, and interesting plot twists. Margaret [the main character] is no saint, but her stubborn determination to uncover the truth of her family history turns Cardinal Hill into an interesting detective story. Margaret is smart and imaginative, with a wry sense of humor that holds our interest. Cardinal Hill is a novel that speaks authentically to a specific time and place in the South.”

Lesley Dauer has been awarded the 2014 Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry for her submission entitled Carnival Life.

Past recipients of this award include Seaborn Jones, Kelly Whiddon, Megan Sexton, and Philip Lee Williams.

Judge’s comment: This is a beautifully written collection of poems.”

William E. Merritt has been awarded the 2014 Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction for his submission entitled Crackers: A Memoir.

Past recipients of this award include Kathy A. Bradley and Joseph Bathanti.

 Judge’s comment: “One of the elements that strikes me as being quintessentially Southern is the author’s ability to describe the most poignant, even heartbreaking, moments with wry humor, that singular trait that has enabled the South and Southerners to endure.”

 The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction is given to the best manuscript that speaks to the human condition in a Southern context. This category includes both novels and short stories.

The Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry is given to the best manuscript that exemplifies the poetic language and vision of the author.

The Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction is given to the best manuscript that speaks to the human condition in a Southern context. This category includes memoir, natural history, essays, and other genres of nonfiction.

Mercer University Press, established in 1979, has published more than 1400 books in the genres of Southern Studies, History, Civil War History, African American Studies, Appalachian Studies, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Poetry, Religion, Biblical Studies, and Philosophy. Publishing authors from across the United States and abroad, Mercer University Press focuses on topics related to the culture of the South. The reputation of the Press significantly enhances the academic environment of Mercer University and carries the name of Mercer and Macon, Georgia throughout the world.

MUP Rocks the Cover of Publishers Weekly

Mercer University Press rocks the four-page cover of today’s issue of Publishers Weekly in celebration of 35 years of publishing excellence.

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A “Glimmer” of Insight from Marly Youmans

Ariadne’s Thread

In her working years, my mother was a university librarian, but now she has retired to a world of garden, birds, books, and weaving. If I glance at her loom, I find that some things are always plain and simple: warp, weft, shuttle, ‘shed,’ reed, and beater. But as time passes, what is wound on the cloth beam changes. When she removes the cloth, I may find shawls and table runners and the most absurdly beautiful hand towels—it’s all a surprise. Patterns may vary wildly; there are infinite variations. The constants are tension, materials, and one person’s distinct sense of color and design.

It’s that way in many of the arts. The self (however much in flux it might be) and the tools are the constant warp, and the weft of art dances its dance among the threads.

Sometimes I am asked why I write in what people regard as different modes, some called “realistic” and some “fantastic.” Perhaps these variations are my changing weft. But I do not feel them as profoundly different activities. To me, there is nothing but the pouring-out and a dreaming toward shapeliness, and that’s true whether we’re talking about one of my novels or one of my recent books of poetry (The Throne of Psyche, The Foliate Head, and Thaliad.)

As for “realism,” I find that in some fundamental way, I do not believe in it. All stories and songs are made things. If they could be exactly like what we call reality, they would be reality—and what could be more fabulous and strange and impossible than that?

Given the way books are discussed in our time, it’s possible to say that my A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is a realistic narrative about a Depression-era’s orphan’s struggle to find his place, or that Glimmerglass is a search that takes place in a solid, realistic world but does the fantastic thing of taking the muse as a possible, literal figure—and at one point borrows from the ancient form of the somnium, or dream vision. But I would not reach for genre terms to describe either of them. For me, books are on a kind of thread or continuum, moving from one way of telling the truth to another. All that matters to me is whether they are good books or not.

All art is created, shaped, dreamed into existence. What matters is not genre or categorization but the extent to which a fabric made of words—the warp and weft making up a kind of little maze—contains an Ariadne’s thread of energy that leads to larger life.

 

Marly Youmans is the author of the just-released novel, Glimmerglass. “A writer of rare ability” (Baton Rouge Advocate), Marly is the award-winning author of a dozen books. Recent works include A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, called “the finest and the truest period novel I’ve read in years” by the late Lucius Shephard; Throne of Psyche: Poems, and Thaliad, hailed as “a work of genius,” “amazing, mesmerizing” by novelist Lee Smith. A native of the Carolinas, Youmans now lives near the mouth of the Susquehanna with her husband and three children.

Learn more about Marly Youmans

 

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Mercer University Press Authors Featured at AJC-Decatur Book Festival – August 29-31, 2014

Mercer University Press authors featured or moderators at Decatur Book Festival this weekend, August 29-31, 2014,

Great prices on all titles brought to the show, so stop by our booth 409/411 and stock up on some wonderful new and backlist books.

Robert Jenkins, Steve Davis, and Daniel Cone

Raymond L. Atkins

Jackie K. Cooper

Cliff Graubart

Megan Sexton

Martha M. Ezzard

Carolyn Newton Curry

Rembrandt as Christian Artist

Biblical RembrandtToday, on Rembrandt’s birthday (1606), John I Durham joins us for a word about Rembrandt’s faith and it’s role in his art. Find out more in John’s Biblical Rembrandt: Human Painter in a Landscape of Faith.

 

Rembrandt Van Rijn: A Believer?

That Rembrandt was a believer is an undoubted fact of his life; that he was not a practicing member of any Church is also a fact of his life. Rembrandt grew up in a Protestant (Dutch Reformed) home in Leiden, a town famous for science and, in some circles, for its hospitality (in 1608 and much of the decade following) to some of the Pilgrim fathers. His father Harmen’s upbringing was Roman Catholic, but by the time of his marriage to Rembrandt’s mother Cornelia, Harmen had joined the Dutch Reformed Church. Cornelia (Neeltje) was brought up Roman Catholic, but by the time she and Harmen were married (on October 8, 1589) in the Dutch Reform Pieterskerk in Leiden, she too had obviously left Catholicism for Protestantism.

In 1631, in his twenty-fifth year, Rembrandt painted an elderly woman reading a great heavy Bible—though he may have intended to depict a biblical figure (Anna from Luke 2:36–38 has often been named.) I believe he was thinking of his mother, whom he had no doubt often seen with the Bible open on her lap. The painting was done with obvious affection; Neeltje would have been around sixty-three when the work was created.

Though we have no firm record of Rembrandt’s birth, the date customarily listed is July 15, 1606, from a reference in a history of Leiden by the city’s mayor, J. J. Orlers. By that date, his parents had been married for around twenty-seven years; Rembrandt was the ninth of ten children born to Harmen and Neeltje. Three of the ten died at birth, two before Rembrandt’s arrival, the third when he was three years old.

That Rembrandt was drawn to the Bible as a source for his art is an inevitable result of his family life, his instruction at Leiden’s Calvinist “Latin School” from the ages of seven to fourteen, and above all from his guidance at the hand and eye of Pieter Lastman, the great “history painter” in Amsterdam. Yet if no piece of this evidence was available to us, we would be forced to remember Rembrandt as very much the painter of the Bible by the predominance in his drawings and in his etchings and in his paintings of biblical persons, biblical themes, and especially of biblical moments. No serious study of the life and work of Rembrandt known to me fails to take note of this fact, not least because so large a percentage of the legacy he has left to us, around one-third by general estimate, is devoted to the Bible. “An old Bible” is listed among Rembrandt’s possession in the bankruptcy inventory of 1656, and following his death on October 5, 1669, the only book among his possessions “in the inner chamber” was a Bible. That he lived with the Bible right through his life cannot be contested; thus what can be said about the Bible in Rembrandt’s belief?

To put it in simplest terms, Rembrandt’s belief, his faith, came not from any connection with a church, and not from any appropriation of a doctrinal system. He was friendly with a considerable array of religious persons, both humble and grand: Protestants, of course, even Mennonite Protestants, but also Catholic and Jewish figures. He was commissioned to paint their portraits, to illustrate some of their publications, and to create works decorating their homes and meeting places (but never their places of worship: Protestants and Jews objected to images in their places of worship, and Roman Catholics felt that Rembrandt’s works were not religious enough, and even sometimes sacrilegious).

Rembrandt’s believing was therefore a biblical believing. The Bible was for him a real book more than it was a holy book. Its heroes and heroines were real people, people who made real mistakes and were sorry for it, not saints above temptation and reproach and criticism. To model Jesus, he picked a Jew; to represent Judas, he depicted a painfully regretful traitor who had torn out his hair in distress; to help us know religious hypocrisy and pomp, he painted Temple officials far more interested in the coins Judas had thrown down than in a man in deep grief.

Rembrandt’s Tobit is both unjustly irritated at his good wife and fumblingly blind. Rembrandt’s Balaam is so caught up in his own self-defensive fury that he overlooks the fact that he is having a conversation with a she-ass. Rembrandt’s prodigal son is caught up in the healing hug of a father whose love is rooted in caring instead of in self-justification and judgment. Rembrandt’s Mary at the Tomb on Easter morning is so human that, in spite of all she had witnessed, she assumes the risen Christ must be a gardener.

I think Rembrandt began his biblical works as works of illustration, attempts to picture what the words of the Bible’s text suggested. Before the passing of many years, however, Rembrandt began interpreting the words of that text, giving us an exegesis of what he felt the words may mean. And in his maturity as a biblical artist, Rembrandt created what must be called works of confession, moving statements of his own belief, in particular the famous “Hundred Guilder Print,” an astonishing summary of the entire nineteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. It is a sermon on an etching plate that presents Jesus healing theological, psychological, and physical sickness and dealing at the same time with legalism, the pride of self-importance, and the reality of indifference. And not even the “rich young man” or the proverbial camel of Matthew 19 are left out!

I have been looking at Rembrandt looking me into looking for many years now; yet as I keep on looking, I find myself seeing more and more, because Rembrandt, it turns out, teaches the Bible without prejudice, and gives us human genius mixed with divine love.

 

Enter discount code MUPNEWS when you order at the Press’s website and receive a 20% discount plus free USPS Media Mail shipping on your entire order!

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