Mercer University Press News

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Humdinger: An Interview with Dr. Sam Pickering

I have always loved Robin Williams in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society, in which he, portraying the dazzling, eclectic, and romantic Professor Keating, teaches his students to live out their dreams and “Seize the Day!” According to an entertainment piece by Joy Lanzendorfer, screenwriter Tom Schulman drew inspiration for Keating’s character from two of his professors at Montgomery Bell Academy, a Nashville boys preparatory school. Lanzendorfer writes that though the “inspiring speeches” came from Harold Clurman, the “quirky teaching style” came from Samuel Pickering, whom has published a handful of books through Mercer University Press.[i]

Dr. Pickering is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and has written over one-hundred and fifty essays in his lifetime, as well as more than thirty books. His most recent publication, Parade’s End, includes a compilation of familiar essays, or “Pickerings,” that celebrate the “passing drift of days and the quiet miracles of living.”[ii] When I joined the MU Press team as an intern, I pestered our marketing director Mary Beth for Dr. Pickering’s email and sent him a few questions about Parade’s End and life in general. Here’s what followed.

The Interview

My Question (Q): In my favorite part from your essay “Honor,” you write that “many of life’s small bumps eventually tickle more than they irritate” (80). What, then, would you have to say about life’s big bumps?

Dr. Pickering’s Answer (A): Time changes perspective. What the 15-year-old thinks a big bump may be forgotten when she is 30. Then again at 50 she may think it important again. The old rhyme goes: Da, da, bumps-aroo / You got bumps all over you./ Da, da, bumps-aree / I got bumps all over me.

Anyway, what you think a big bump, I might at my age think insignificant—actually I will more than likely think it insignificant. The concerns of age and youth are different.

Read more…

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.

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