Macon, Ga.Mercer University’s Macon campus hosted the Sidney Lanier Prize Presentation for Southern Literature to novelist, short story writer, and poet Ellen Gilchrist. The presentation was held in the President’s Dinning Hall and awarded by the Mercer’s Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies on Saturday April 22, 2017. Gilchrist spoke with fans who were able to take pictures with the author as well as have books signed. The Spencer B. King Jr. Center examines the complex history and culture of the U.S. South.

Ellen Gilchrist accepting the Sidney Lanier Prize
Ellen Gilchrist, the Sidney Lanier Prize recipient for Southern Literature. Photo by Donja M. Harper.

David Davis who has been the Chair of the Sidney Lanier Prize Committee said that the committee has been actively awarding this prestigious award for six-years all of which he has held the current title of Chairman. Davis said, “The prize committee is a group of Mercer faculty, members of the local Macon community and experts of Southern Literature from outside of Macon, and in the fall, we consider nominated writers and we deliberate on them and we chose a prize winner for the year. The prize winner is the person who has made career long contributions to Southern Literature.”

Sidney Lanier Prize
David Davis serves as Chairman of the Sidney Lanier Prize Committee that sponsors the award. Photo by Donja M. Harper.

The recipient Ellen Gilchrist was born near Vicksburg, Mississippi, and has authored more than 23 books, some she said are not mentioned in her long list of publications. Gilchrist said she grew up on a plantation where much of the work was performed by hired help. Gilchrist said, that she began writing at a young age, and her influences came from family members whom worked as journalist. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy at Vanderbilt University. When asked what advice she can give aspiring authors and writers she recommended Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Phillips. Her latest novel Things like the Truth: Out of My Later Years and other works can be found online at



Published by Don Harper

Don Harper's passion for writing came at an early age. As a second grader, he wrote his first short story, one about his father, a fireman. His teacher typed and edited it, and made the story into a hardbound book. This cherished memory inspired this now 35 year from Milledgeville to create. He is also fascinated by the culture of hip-hop. He began to write poetry and lyrics, and by the time I was in high school had joined a music group who performed live shows and even opened up for some major artists. His current endeavors include working on a trilogy of short stories and finishing his studies at Middle Georgia State University. He is completing his Bachelor of Arts, majoring in New Media and Communication. He hopes to one day acquire a position as a writer for a major network and to also have penned a best-selling novel.