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.
The F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum‘s fifth annual Literary Contest for high school and college students opened its submissions period on September 1, 2022. This year’s theme for the general contest, which accepts submissions from anywhere in the world, is “Unclassified Masterpieces.” This theme celebrates the centennial of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 story collection Tales of the Jazz Age. This year’s judges are Janelle (Jae) Green for the 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 this award are not governed by a theme, but should be comprised of a portfolio of writings. The Zelda Award judge is Jonathon Peterson, also known as JP da Poet. Submissions (for both) are being accepted from September 1 until December 31, 2022.
The winners of the last year’s Literary Contest and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award were announced on March 15, 2022. 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.
Foster’s essay “Charlie Daniels and the Fourth Amendment” will be the first of three essays to be published on Close Third later in 2022. The online project is devoted to telling a more complex version of Montgomery, Alabama’s history. Foster’s contribution 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.
Foster is currently working on a commemorative/historical book about Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School for its upcoming 150th anniversary celebration in 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 one of the longest-standing continuously operated schools in Alabama. Foster’s book-length treatment of the school’s history is right now a work-in-progress, and no release date has been set.
In August 2022, Foster Dickson joined the English faculty at Huntingdon College as a full-time instructor. He will teach composition, literature survey, and other courses. Foster spent the last 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.
This year’s open submissions period for Nobody’s Home: Modern Southern Folklore has ended. Writers who submitted works of creative nonfiction between April 15 and June 15 received their replies in mid-July. Accepted submissions were published on August 4.
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 has 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.
On Saturday, July 16, 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, 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.
level:deepsouth marked its second anniversary on March 1, 2022. 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. Recently published stories have discussed growing up in south Georgia in the 1970s and reminiscing on the music of the 1990s.
For those more interested in reading than contributing, the project has “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.
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.”
On October 12, 2021, Foster was a presenting writer at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts’ In the Arts event from 5:30 – 7:00 PM. From the museum’s website: “The Muses Teen Council hosts this arts-related career night for River Region teens. Professionals from community arts organizations and creative businesses showcase their work and answer questions about their education and career paths.”
In May 2021, Foster was featured in an episode of the Alabama Arts Radio podcast, with Anne Kimzey. The two talked about Foster’s work and specifically about Nobody’s Home, which was his project for the Literary Arts Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
The Sketches of Newtown books arrived from the printer in March 2021. Approximately half of the books were shared with current and former Newtown residents, while the remaining half went to student contributors, organizations that supported the project, and archival institutions.
This student project was funded by an Alabama Bicentennial Commission education grant as a follow-up to the February 2019 oral history event in Newtown. It had Foster’s high school Creative Writing students researching and writing about this north Montgomery community, which began as a housing settlement for enslaved people in the 1830s. A second oral history event, originally slated for December 2020, had to be cancelled due to COVID concerns, though the book publication was completed in its stead. The entire print run of the book was given away at no charge. An e-book is available by clicking here.
*The photograph that appears in the header of the website was taken on US Highway 80 between Newbern and Selma.