Bay Reads - May 2021
- by Scott Naugle
There will be a set of firsts on Saturday, June 12, as the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters (MIAL) holds their annual awards dinner on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The event promises to be gala affair with a glittering spotlight on the artists, musicians, and writers who bring national and worldwide recognition to our state.
Since 1978, the MIAL has annually recognized achievements in musical composition, both contemporary and classical, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photography, visual art, and last year added an additional category for Youth Literature.
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Judges in each category, selected annually, must be unbiased and reside out of state without any ties to a nominee. Award nominees must be residents of Mississippi or have close ties.
Anyone within Mississippi or across the country may join the MIAL by paying annual dues. Currently, there are several hundred members who each are encouraged to nominate potential award recipients.
The governing board is comprised of thirty Mississippi residents who serve for five-year terms. The coast is represented by Julian Rankin, director of the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs, and Sandra Shellnut and Scott Naugle of Pass Christian.
Regarding the set of firsts, the first first is the double ceremony this year. Due to the pandemic, winners were announced for 2020, but no ceremony was held. This year’s event will include recognition of both the 2020 and 2021 winners.
The second first is the hosting of the event in Pass Christian. Every other year, the ceremony rotates out of Jackson, Mississippi. The award ceremony was held in south Mississippi just once before, several years ago, at the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs.
The 2020 winners are:
- Stacey Johnson of Pass Christian for Visual Arts
- Will Jacks of Cleveland for Photography
- C.T. Salazar of Caledonia for Poetry
- Steve Rouse for Musical Composition (Classical)
- Minrose Gwin for Fiction
- Margaret McMullan of Pass Christian for Nonfiction
- Susan and Tim Lee for Music Composition (Contemporary)
- Angie Thomas of Ridgeland for Youth Literature
The 2021 winners are:
- Cathy Hegman of Holly Bluff for Visual Arts
- Andrea Morales of Oxford for Photography
- Catherine Pierce of Starkville for Poetry
- James Sclater of Clinton for Music Composition (Classical)
- Odie Lindsey for Fiction
- Eddie S Glaude, Jr. of Moss Point for Nonfiction
- Steve Azar of Greenville for Music Composition (Contemporary)
- Deborah Wiles for Youth Literature
When warranted, not typically on an annual basis, the MIAL will bestow a Lifetime Achievement Award. This was done both in 2020 and 2021. Ann Abadie is the 2020 recipient. The 2021 honoree is Rea Hederman. Author Richard Ford will speak and introduce Hederman.
The awards banquet is open to the public. Tickets, $75 each, are available via the MIAL website until June 1. The ceremony begins with a 5:30 pm reception, followed by a 6:30 pm formal dinner at Oak Crest Mansion Inn in Pass Christian. Several award winners will offer remarks.
Earlier in the day, at 1:00 pm, authors will read from their works. Minrose Gwin, Margaret McMullan, Will Jacks, C.T. Salazar, Odie Lindsey and Eddie Glaude are all scheduled.
The reading is free and open to the public. It will also take place at Oak Crest Mansion Inn. Books will be on sale onsite courtesy of Pass Christian Books.
If the air smells fresher, the sunlight more illuminating, and the gulf breeze unusually fresh on June 12, they are. This is a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of our best artists and intellects in Mississippi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Author Reading, free and open to the public at Oak Crest Mansion Inn, 5267 Menge Avenue, Pass Christian. Book sales by Pass Christian Books.
Reception at Oak Crest Mansion Inn with dinner/awards ceremony following at 6:30. $75 ticket available via Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters website.