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Oxford Conference for the Book returns this week

The Oxford Conference for the Book will return this March with a number of notable speakers who will gather to celebrate the written word.

This is the 23rd year for the event that will be held Wednesday through Friday.

James G. Thomas Jr., associate director for publications at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, said the event has an incredible lineup of established writers, including Rick Bass and Bobbie Ann Mason, and first-time novelists, including Robert Gipe and Julia Claiborne Johnson.

“Conference panels will explore a wide range of topics, including Mississippi history; childhood in the South; memoir writing; and youth, activism and life in the Mountain South,” Thomas said.

Other topics include “poetic responses to Langston Hughes; a cultural and culinary history of the pig; Harper Lee’s novels, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Go Set a Watchman;’ the Hurricane Katrina crisis; and America’s continuing debate over science and religion,” Thomas said.

Writers scheduled to appear at the conference include Rick Bass, Margaret McMullan, Bobbie Ann Mason, Minion K. C. Morrison, Dennis J. Mitchell, Richard Katrovas, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Caki Wilkinson, Jericho Brown, Katie Peterson, Beth Ann Fennelly, Chiyuma Elliott, Derrick Harriell, Taylor Brown, Kiese Laymon, LaKisha Michelle Simmons, Vereen Bell, Joseph Crespino, Robert Gipe, Vereen Bell, Mark Essig, Young Suh, Matthew Griffin, Julia Claiborne Johnson, Ariel Lawhon, Sheri Fink and Edward J. Larson.

The conference is free and open to the public, but reservations and an advance payment of $50 are required for the opening night gala dinner/cocktail reception Wednesday.

The event is presented by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Square Books.

To see a full schedule of events, visit oxfordconferenceforthebook.com/schedule/.

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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