MSU English Teacher, Mississippi Poet Laureate attending Mississippi Virtual Book Festival


Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Catherine Pierce (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi — Mississippi State English teacher Catherine Pierce participates virtually Tuesday [Oct. 12] at the seventh annual Mississippi Book Festival, his first as a Magnolia State Poet Laureate.

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

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

For more details on the Mississippi Virtual Book Festival, visit

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

A native of Delaware, Pierce is the author of 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 his last three books received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize.

Pierce is a two-time Pushcart Prize winner and National Endowment for the Arts and Mississippi Arts Commission scholarship recipient. His 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.

To learn more about MSU’s English Department and its Creative Writing program, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s premier university, available online at


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