University of Mississippi

SPIR: Summer Poet in Residence


Thank you for your interest in the Summer Poet in Residence (SPiR) at the University of Mississippi. The residency supports a poet who desires a quiet, beautiful location in which to further his or her work, and it lasts four weeks, from June 15 to July 15

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Beth Ann Fennelly introducing Josh Kyrah at his Square Books reading. Photo by Gaetano Catelli.


In the summer of 1999, I was awarded a Summer Residency from the University of Arizona Poetry Center and I lived for a month in the charming “poet’s house” on the UA campus. In the years since, I’ve reflected on what a special opportunity that was. Here at the University of Mississippi, we’ve been able to establish a similar residency in the hopes that other writers could receive similar nourishment and support.

—-Beth Ann Fennelly, Director


   2016 SPiR: Brandon Lamson 

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Brandon Dean Lamson teaches literature and creative writing in the Honors College at the University of Houston. His first book, Starship Tahiti, won the Juniper Prize for Poetry and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press. Beginning on Rikers Island, the book traces a creation myth in reverse, moving from prison to the spacious arches of Grand Central Station and finally to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Themes of violence, race, and identity are explored in various real and imagined settings where inmates read Antigone, Howlin’ Wolf sings in a black barbershop, and Metallica records burn on a Viking altar. He is also the author of a chapbook entitled Houston Gothic (LaMunde Press, 2007) and his recent work has appeared in Poetry Daily, Brilliant Corners, NO INFINITE, Synecdoche, and Buddhadharma Quarterly. An avid yogi, he teaches meditation and leads workshops in yoga and the creative arts . Currently, he is finishing a second book of poems titled Mountains Walking that explores ecological crises in Western Appalachia and a memoir based on his prison teaching experience titled Caged.



Associate Professor of Art, Jan Murray, reveals an author’s broadside of Previous SPiRs.


Previous SPiRs


Eligibility Requirements

The residency is designed for poets who have at least one full length book (either published or under contract) and no more than two books.  Chapbooks are not full length books.  Eligible poets are encouraged to apply.

Housing and Accommodations

The SpiR receives housing, a travel reimbursement, and an honorarium of $3,000 thanks to the generosity of The Department of EnglishThe College of Liberal Arts, and the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education. In addition, the SPiR will receive ten broadsides of his or her work, designed by Jan Murray.


The residency is designed to provide ample writing time to the SPiR while also allowing the University of Mississippi’s summer course offerings to be enriched by the presence of a active poet on campus.To this end, the SPiR will be involved in the campus community and the University of Mississippi MFA program by giving a poetry reading and making 1-2 class visits a week.  The SpiR will also be invited to serve as judge for the Yalobusha Review’s Yellowwood Poetry Prize.  As judge, the SPiR will be given ten finalist poems by the editorial staff and will select the winner and any honorable mentions.


To apply, please send by January 15:

  1. a ten-page work sample.
  2. a resume that includes the names and contact information of three recommenders. Please don’t send separate letters of recommendation; merely include on your resume the names and contact information of three recommenders.
  3. a letter of intent. In your letter, you may address why the residency would be helpful to you at this juncture in your career, and what kind of class visits you’d like to make.
  4. a self-addressed, stamped envelope for notification of the winner.

There is no cost to apply. Applications will be judged by Beth Ann Fennelly and Ann Fisher-Wirth. They must be postmarked by January 15th and sent to:

Beth Ann Fennelly, SPiR Director
Department of English
Bondurant Hall C-135
P. O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677-1848