by Ralph E. Gordon
Most of us had never met before that warm October day when we gathered at Merrehope Mansion in Meridian, Mississippi, last year (2005). We were there to participate in the brainchild of Richelle Putnum and Anne McKee. The meeting was billed "Literary Artist on Stage," sponsored by the newly created Mississippi Writers Guild. Some of us were purely amateurs and novices in the world of literary art. Some were professionals with varying degrees of success and notoriety. But an immediate sense of mutual respect developed among the participants as we each read a short piece of our work to our new found friends. Some people read an excerpt from a book they hope to publish, some read poetry and others read a short story. We all read something we had written, and we all listened as the others showcased their work.
Some of us were liberal, some of us were conservative and some of us were totally nonpolitical. But we left our politics at the door and gave an honest ear and an open mind to our fellow writers.
I, for one, walked away with a new sense of purpose and confidence. I didn’t consider myself a better writer after the session, nor was I intimidated by being in the presence of such overwhelming talent, but I felt I was, in fact, a writer. Maybe, just maybe, somebody out there might be interested in what I had to say. And if one person read one of my poems or short stories or sang one of my songs, that would validate me as a writer -- okay, maybe not a John Grisham or a Shelby Foote, but a writer nevertheless. More importantly, a Mississippi writer!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ralph Gordon is a fifth generation Mississippian who lives in Union, Miss., with his wife Pat. He is a retired salesman for a major lawn and garden equipment manufacturer and former executive director of the Union Chamber of Commerce. Ralph is an active member of the Newton County Historical Society and serves on the Board of Directors of The Boler's Inn Museum Foundation. He received his education at Beulah Hubbard High School, East Central Community College, Delta State University, and has studied writing at Millsaps College.
The focus of Ralph's writing (poetry, songs, humorous short stories) is on local and family history with an emphasis on Southern folklore. He is currently writing his first book. A regular contributor to the Journal of The Newton County Historical Society, his stories are also published in the Oxford So and So. Three of his songs were recorded by Mountain Gypsies, a well known Arkansas bluegrass group. The Mississippi Department of Tourism displays two of Ralph's history-based poems at the Vicksburg Welcome Center.
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