News & Forthcoming
Foster Dickson is a writer, editor, and teacher in Montgomery, Alabama. He is the author of Closed Ranks, the editor of Nobody’s Home and level:deepsouth, and the coordinator of the Fitzgerald Museum’s annual Literary Contest.
level:deepsouth passed its third anniversary on March 1, 2023. The project remains open for submissions of creative nonfiction, reviews, and images related to growing up in Generation X in the Deep South in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. For those more interested in reading than contributing, the project also has an editor’s blog that includes “tidbits, fragments, and ephemera,” a sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.
The F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum‘s fifth annual Literary Contest for high school and college students announced the winners on March 15, 2023. This year’s theme for the general contest, which accepts submissions from anywhere in the world, was “Unclassified Masterpieces.” This theme celebrated the centennial of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 story collection Tales of the Jazz Age. The judges for 2022 – 2023 were Janelle (Jae) Green for the high school entries and Barbara Wiedemann for the undergraduate entries. Also, this is the third year for the Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award, which is open to Alabama high school students. Submissions for the Zelda Award award are not governed by a theme, but should be comprised of a portfolio of writings. The Zelda Award judge was Jonathon Peterson, also known as JP da Poet.
The winners of the annual Literary Contest and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award are announced on March 15 every year. Last year’s Literary Contest theme, “The Radiant Hour,” honored the centennial of Scott’s novel The Beautiful and the Damned, and the judges were Jason McCall, Kerry Madden-Lunsford, and Lisa Reeves.
Foster re-designed and began coordinating the museum’s contest in 2018, a year that marked the centennial of Scott and Zelda meeting in Montgomery. The Literary Contest is open to high school students and college undergraduates anywhere, while the Zelda Award is for Alabama high school students only.
Nobody’s Home: Modern Southern Folklore will reach its three-year anniversary on March 31, then begin accepting queries for this year’s Open Submissions Period on April 15. To have their work considered, writers should query first before submitting works of creative nonfiction. (The project does not publish fiction or poetry.) As with previous years, submissions received between April 15 and June 15 will receive replies in mid-July, and accepted submissions are published each year in August. As always, queries for reviews and interviews will be considered year-round.
Created in 2020, Nobody’s Home is an online anthology of creative nonfiction about the prevailing beliefs, myths, and narratives in Southern culture over the last fifty years, since 1970. The initial compilation of the anthology was completed in September 2021. It contains forty-four essays, and the accompanying lesson plans offer curricular connections (standards, objectives, and activities) for secondary English and social studies teachers to use in their classrooms. In 2022, Foster continued promoting the works and writing his editor’s blog Groundwork. For those writers, reviewers, and interviewers who may be interested in adding to the anthology, the new, updated submissions guidelines have been posted. You can follow the project on Facebook or Twitter.
Foster published number 63 in the Southern Movies series, this one about 1957’s Band of Angels. He has been writing these blog posts, which contain both plot summary and analysis, since 2013. Over the last ten years, the series has discussed and dissected dozens of movies that are about the South, set in the South, and/or involve Southern characters. In addition to the posts about individual movies, there are also samplers that discuss subject-focused groupings. In 2022, new posts in the series included the blues-themed ’80s drama Crossroads, two death-penalty films from the 1990s, The Chamber and Dead Man Walking; the 1972 Appalachian adventure story Deliverance, the Porky’s sex-comedy trilogy made infamous in the 1980s, a bizarre Italian horror-thriller set in New Orleans called Macabre, and the 1975 blaxploitation film Bucktown. The next Southern Movies post will discuss the 1991 film Mississippi Masala.
Foster is currently finishing a commemorative/historical book about Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School for its upcoming 150th anniversary celebration in fall 2023. Montgomery Catholic was founded as St. Mary of Loretto School in 1873 by the Sisters of Loretto. Over a century-and-a-half, St. Mary of Loretto evolved into a regional K-12 school with three campuses, to become the longest-standing continuously operated school in Alabama. Foster’s book-length treatment of this history is right now a work-in-progress, and the release date has not been set.
Foster’s essays “A Loss of Attraction” and “Charlie Daniels and the Fourth Amendment” will be two of three essays to be published on Close Third in 2023. The online project is devoted to sharing a more complex version of what Montgomery, Alabama is and has been. The first essay discusses the history of local magnet schools, with the Carver Creative and Performing Arts Center as its focus. The second essay tells the story of the concerts in 1977 that led the City of Montgomery to have an unreceptive attitude toward hosting rock bands at the Civic Center for the rest of the twentieth century. The third, which is a work-in-progress, will discuss how the 1969 desegregation case for Montgomery’s local YMCAs led to a cascading group of latter-day Civil Rights organizations calling Montgomery home.
Later this year, Foster will be the featured guest on an episode of We Will Rise: National Parks and Civil Rights. The podcast is produced by the National Parks Service. The episode will focus on the Whitehurst Case and Foster’s book Closed Ranks. More information will be forthcoming when a release date is available.
On Friday evening, February 17, Foster moderated a discussion on social-justice issues to wrap up a pilgrimage to the Alabama Black Belt by the Loretto Community, an order of Catholic women religious based in Kentucky. The discussion, which also included local Montgomerians, was arranged by Mary Boone, the widow of Rev. Richard Boone. The gathering was held at the Montgomery Interpretive Center on the campus of Alabama State University. Earlier in the week, a dozen Sisters of Loretto and lay co-members spent time in Alabama visiting Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School, which was founded by their order in 1873, and learning more about the history of injustice in the South. The Friday evening discussion was meant to explore ways that the Loretto Community can get more involved in efforts toward progress.
Foster closed his Twitter account on December 2, 2022. This decision was not related to Elon Musk’s ownership of the company or any other public controversies. After being on the platform since summer 2009, it no longer felt useful, practical, or even enjoyable.
On Tuesday evening, November 1, 2022, Foster made a presentation about researching for and writing Closed Ranks at the Huntingdon Library’s Annual Mini-Conference. The presentation was among six that were given by both students and faculty. This year’s theme was “Good Trouble,” a phrase that comes from the late Civil Rights activist and congressman John Lewis.
Foster joined the faculty at Huntingdon College as a full-time instructor in August 2022. In the fall semester, he taught composition and literature courses. Foster spent the previous nineteen school years as the Creative Writing instructor at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School, beginning in fall 2003, and taught composition as an adjunct at Auburn University at Montgomery from 2011 through 2013.
On Saturday, July 16, 2022, Foster led a professional development session about using film adaptations in the classroom at the Fitzgerald Museum’s inaugural Teaching The Great Gatsby Conference. The conference, which was held on July 15 and 16 in Montgomery, was designed for high school teachers. Other sessions covered the history of the novel and of the Fitzgeralds, as well as curriculum, activities, strategies, and methods for teaching the novel. Registration was required. More details can be found on the museum’s website.
On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, Foster was a reader in the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts’ Mindfulness Inspires program. The event featured several central Alabama writers and lasted from 5:00 – 6:00 PM. The following is the description from the museum’s website:
Spotlighting May as Mental Health Awareness Month, the MMFA’s Inspires series will feature local writers reading aloud works created in response to The Yellow Wallpaper, both an installation on view in the Caddell Sculpture Garden and a short story of the same name. The sculpture and the work of literature both address and interpret depression and mental health decline, especially when healthy mindfulness is not cultivated.
On December 14, 2021. Foster was a presenting writer at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts’ Wilderness Inspires program. The event, which was free and open to the public, featured local writers sharing literary works based on the Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me exhibit. Foster’s ekphrastic poem was titled “A Broken Haibun within the Place Where Wild Deer Go.”
*The photograph that appears in the header of the website was taken on US Highway 80 between Newbern and Selma.