MSU English professor, Mississippi’s Poet Laureate participating in virtual Mississippi Book Festival

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Catherine Pierce stands with her hands on her hips while wearing a bright pink dress in a grassy field.
Catherine Pierce (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State Professor of English Catherine Pierce is participating virtually Tuesday [Oct. 12] in the seventh annual Mississippi Book Festival, her first as the Magnolia State’s Poet Laureate.

The festival was originally slated to take place in August at the Mississippi Capitol. A resurgence in COVID-19 cases prompted organizers to adapt the event to a virtual format, which will give participants free access to 31 recorded panel discussions featuring more than 110 of the state’s top literary minds.

Pierce, co-director of MSU’s creative writing program, will participate in the poetry panel “Resonant Verse,” alongside fellow poets Richard Boada, Sandra Beasley, Ashley M. Jones, Adam Clay and moderator Derrick Harriell.

For complete details on the virtual Mississippi Book Festival, visit

“I can’t think of a better or more exciting way to kick off my time as Mississippi Poet Laureate than by being part of the Mississippi Book Festival,” Pierce said. “The organizers have done such a great job transitioning this year’s fest to an online format, and it’s always a thrill to spend some concentrated time immersed in the rich literary talent of our state and region. I can’t wait to watch these panels.”

A native of Delaware, Pierce has authored four books of poetry—“Danger Days” (2020), “The Tornado Is the World” (2016), “The Girls of Peculiar” (2012) and “Famous Last Words” (2008), winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Each of her last three books has received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize.

Pierce is a two-time Pushcart Prize winner and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mississippi Arts Commission. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, American Poetry Review, The Nation, The Southern Review, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, among others.

For more on MSU’s Department of English and its creative writing program, visit

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