Reading and Conversation with Mississippi Poet Laureate, Dr. Catherine Pierce

24 Aug, 2021 4:00 pm

Institute for the Humanities - Facebook Live

Pierce 2021 Aug Event


STARKVILLE, Miss.—Catherine Pierce, Mississippi’s Poet Laureate and a professor in Mississippi State’s Department of English, will lead a live Facebook event August 24 to share a public reading and discuss her tenure as the state’s Poet Laureate. 

Hosted by MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences’s Institute for the Humanities, the 4:00 p.m. free event will be on the Institute for the Humanities Facebook page, available at

Pierce, who serves as the co-director of the English department’s creative writing emphasis, was appointed as Mississippi’s Poet Laureate this spring by Governor Tate Reeves. 

“I have been wanting to talk to Dr. Pierce about poetry for a long time,” said Julia Osman, director of the Institute for the Humanities and an associate professor of history. “Many of Dr. Pierce’s poems resonate with where we are right now. She writes about dangers lurking in the background, the uneasiness we feel about uncertain times, the confusion created by fake news and ‘alternative facts.’” 

Osman said Pierce’s work delves into complex subjects through the art form of poetry, a medium some find “distant.” 

“Dr. Pierce is going to show us, however, that poetry is for everyone, and how we all can benefit from reading or even writing it,” says Osman. “Right now, poetry seems to be ‘in season.’ It seems to help us grabble with the uncertainties of our current moment. I’m hoping Dr. 

Pierce can help bring this kind of poetry to more people and help us have deeper and more meaningful interactions with poems and words.” 

Pierce received the 2021 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award for her book “Danger Days,” (Saturnalia 2020), a collection of poems addressing the beauty of the world, as well as destruction created by climate change. 

Pierce also has received a 2020 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Artist Fellowship for her poetry, a 2020 Pushcart Prize for her poem “Entreaty,” and a 2018 Pushcart Prize for her poem “I Kept Getting Books about Birds.” A native of Delaware, Pierce received a 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Pierce’s 2019 poem “How Becoming a Mother Is Like Space Travel” was published in The Nation magazine, considered the oldest continuously printed weekly magazine in the U.S. 

Pierce has authored three additional books of poetry. They include “The Tornado Is the World” (Saturnalia 2016), winner of the 2017 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award and a 2015 national Sustainable Arts Foundation Award; “The Girls of Peculiar” (Saturnalia 2012), winner of the 2013 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award; and “Famous Last Words” (Saturnalia 2008), winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. 

Part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, more information about the Department of English is available at Complete information about the Institute for the Humanities is available at MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at