For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is May 9, 2021


Writing his own story

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

I’m not sure if there’s something in the soil here or, maybe, in the thick, warm air.

Whatever it is, I wonder if it helps foster the incredible amount of writers Mississippi produces.

Some have said Mississippi has yielded more writers in the U.S. than any other state. I’m not sure if that’s strictly true when it comes to the numbers, but the pronouncement sure feels right.

Storytelling is part of Mississippi’s legacy and the artistic promise of the decades to come.

The names are legendary and it’s not just all about William Faulkner: Eudora Welty, Willie Morris, Richard Ford, Barry Hannah, John Grisham, Donna Tartt, Richard Wright and Tennessee Williams. That’s not even a complete list and doesn’t account for the younger generation of Mississippi literary lions that have won acclaim and prizes over the last decade — Angie Thomas, Ace Atkins, Jesmyn Ward, Natasha Trethewey and Kiese Laymon.

This month, we feature a story on one of the latter writers — a future legend.

Michael Farris Smith grew up in the McComb and Magnolia area and was raised on the lines of Magnolia Electric Power. Today, the 51-year-old novelist and his family live in Oxford and are powered by North East Power.

Smith’s story is one that’s fascinating. He gave writing a try late in life. But like the ball player he was in his youth, Smith swung hard and struck out some before he cracked solid base hits and, eventually, home runs with critics and readers.

He’s made national and international news recently for his new book, — a prequel to “The Great Gatsby” — “Nick.”

Why would someone write a prequel to one of the greatest American novels of all time? Why would he risk scorn from generations of readers who count Nick Carraway as one of their favorite characters in literature?

Because it was the book Smith wanted to read.

We hope you enjoy our profile of this future legend and Mississippi co-op member.

One last note about our new issue.

April is Thank a Lineman month. As we all found out in late February during the ice storms, electric co-op linemen are rock stars and heroes. They restore power to all of us in the worst of circumstances.

So, if you see a lineman, thank them for their service and dedication.

You can also salute them on social media with the hashtag #thankalineman.

For those who work the lines, thank you!

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