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 initial compilation of the anthology Nobody’s Home: Modern Southern Folklore is now complete. Submissions sent during the period from May 16 through August 15 were published on September 21. Foster’s attention now shifts to promoting the works and to publishing the lesson plans that will accompany each work. The new, updated submissions guidelines have been posted.
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. It is supported by a Literary Arts Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The fellowship “recognizes artistic excellence as well as professional commitment and maturity, and it is intended to contribute to the further development of the literary artist and the advancement of his or her professional career.”
In August, the theme, guidelines, and judges for the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum‘s fourth annual Literary Contest and second annual Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Young Writers Award was announced: The Radiant Hour. This year’s judges are Jason McCall, Kerry Madden-Lunsford, and Lisa Reeves. The Literary Contest is open to any high school student and college undergraduate, while the Zelda Award is for Alabama high school students only. The submissions period opened on September 1 and will remain open until December 31. Click here to view the 2021-2022 press release.
The results for last year’s third annual contest were announced on March 15. The theme for 2020 – 2021 was “The Education of a Personage,” to honor the centennial of Scott’s debut novel This Side of Paradise. Last year’s theme, which comes from one of the novel’s section titles, implies works about learning, growing, and maturing. The judges were Ashley M. Jones and Alina Stefanescu.
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 first year’s theme was “What’s Old Is New,” giving a nod to the daring and innovative spirit of Scott’s and Zelda’s artistic and literary work, and in 2019–2020, the theme was “Love + Marriage” to honor the couple’s 1919 love affair and 1920 wedding.
“tidbits, fragments, and ephemera” on level:deepsouth is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South. The new series started in May. To read the posts, visit the editor’s blog, or subscribe to level:deepsouth to receive new posts in your email.
Foster is currently working on a commemorative/historical book about Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School for their 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.
On Thursday, October 12, 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, 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 is 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 early March. Approximately half of the books have been shared with current and former Newtown residents, while the remaining half have gone 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.
On March 1, level:deepsouth marked its first full year online! This online anthology was created with the goal of documenting the experiences of Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s by collecting personal essays and memoirs about our lives back then and since then. The project is wide open for submissions. Though any submission that fits the subject matter will be considered, Foster is especially interested in nonfiction works by writers who were born between 1965 and 1980, and who grew up in the region.
In March, Foster was included in the article, “Race is a thorny topic in America. Some say schools must join the conversation.” by the Montgomery Advertiser‘s race and ethnicity reporter Safiya Charles.
Foster was a presenter at the Monroeville Literary Festival this year! The 2021 festival was virtual, not on-site in Monroeville, and his presentation was on Thursday, March 4 at 2:00 PM. The festival continued on March 5 and 6 with presentations and awards ceremonies.
In July 2020, Foster did an interview with The Alabama Writers Cooperative’s Alina Stefanescu about the fellowship and his other current projects. You can watch that video here:
In February 2020, Foster had articles published in It’s a Southern Thing and the Montgomery Advertiser. He wrote about the Lillian E. Smith Center in Clayton, Georgia for the former publication and contributed a “Love Letter to Montgomery” for the latter’s series. You can click on the red links to access them.
Foster’s most recent book Closed Ranks: The Whitehurst Case in Post-Civil Rights Montgomery was released in November 2018 and is available in paperback and e-book formats. The release was covered by the Montgomery Advertiser, WSFA, and The Crime Report. If you missed that event or others, the Read Herring bookstore has autographed copies in stock. You can also read the Alabama Writers Forum’s review of the book.
To schedule a signing or book talk, please use the contact form on the About page. While you might think of these as public events that occur in bookstores or on college campuses, Foster will also schedule invitation-only readings and discussions with book clubs, civic organizations, and school groups.
Emily Blejwas’ The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods was released in July 2019, and the curriculum guide that Foster created for it is available here. The book, published by the University of Alabama Press, is available in hardcover, and access to the curriculum guide is free. To learn more about The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods, visit Emily Blejwas’ website.
Any of Foster’s books, including I Just Make People Up about artist Clark Walker and the anthology Children of the Changing South, are available on Amazon and through other national retailers. For a complete listing of Foster’s books, visit his Author Central page on Amazon.
*The photograph that appears in the header of the website was taken on US Highway 80 between Newbern and Selma.