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Welcome to the Brainstorm Blog! The primary news source the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS), Mississippi's only public, residential high school dedicated to the development of the state's most academically gifted students.

"Southern Voices: Stories" Now Available To Purchase

A new book was released today featuring works by alumni of MSMS.  Southern Voices: Stories is an anthology of the 27 first place fiction winners in the 27 years of the MSMS literary magazine, Southern Voices.  The volume includes notation of literary judges and contains the covers from each of the 27 issues of the magazine.  The book also has an introduction by Southern Voices faculty advisor Emma Richardson.

"Southern Voices: Stories underscores for me that MSMS students are truly gifted and talented, not just in mathematics and science but also in the arts," said Emma Richardson. "Their creative writing is a constant source of pleasure and delight."

The project was the brainchild of 1990 graduate Anthony Thaxton. A member of the inaugural class, Anthony found himself struggling to keep up with the math and science curriculum.  He even left the school after the first 9 weeks. 

"Fortunately, Johnny Franklin (the director at the time) called a week later and asked if I'd like to come back!" said Thaxton.  "I knew I'd made a mistake.  It was tough, as math and science weren't exactly what excited me.  But I became newspaper editor, drew the cover illustrations for Southern Voices during my two years in Columbus and served as Art Editor for Southern Voices my senior year." 

Anthony won first place for his short story, "Pawpaw and I Went Fishin'", which is included in the book.

After graduation, Thaxton attended Mississippi College.  As a freshman, he painted the poster used for the Eudora Welty Writers Symposium and was delighted to sign a limited edition of the posters with Miss Welty.  Thaxton also painted the poster for the next year, the original of which is owned by Tom and Emma Richardson.

"I cannot begin to say just how big of an influence that Emma Richardson and Jack Carter were on my life. Nancy MacNeill was super as well because she encouraged my cultural growth through sharing old movies and books and putting up with my ADD in AP Chemistry. I really struggled.  But it was in the humanities where I found my place.  I took Mississippi Writers, Creative Writing, Creative Media ... each of these shaped who I am today. And it wasn't just the courses and subjects... Mr. Carter and Mrs. Richardson took such an interest in me personally that I just wanted to do something to give back to them. That's how this book idea was born."

Thaxton donated the first printing of the book to the school to use as a fundraiser.  He has designed and published numerous books from inspirational to comics. His art and photography have been featured in magazines and books and on The Southern Voices: Stories anthology is published under the Thaxton Studios imprint, which is the name of Anthony's company of 25 years which handles television production, documentary film work, graphic design, publishing and music. Thaxton's work has been seen on Good Morning America and Fox & Friends. He directed Morgan Freeman, Dolly Parton and Brooke Shields on different commercial shoots and projects.  Currently, Thaxton Studios is producing a documentary on Frank Ordaz, a former ILM matte painter who worked on Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, E.T. and other features. The film, "When Johnny Played with the Dark Side", is featuring interviews with special effects wizards from LucasFilm is slated for a release in Spring of 2016.

"I also produce The United Methodist Hour which airs on 15 stations across Mississippi and the Southeast. I produce two shows in the Memphis market. I have various graphics contracts that keep me hopping," said Thaxton.  "In fact, I originally wanted to publish the book with the title "Southern Voices: Twenty Five" with the 25 winning stories... but I missed that window... or maybe my math was just off!"

The book comes with a dedication to Emma Richardson and Jack Carter.  It reads, "You two were first to the party, and you stayed all the while changing lives. We love you for it."

Thaxton is proud to have made that dedication and hopes that it will mean something to the pair.  "They were just great.  There's a lot to be said for simply showing up day after day all these years. But they did so much more than that," Thaxton continued. "My hope is that they feel appreciated and loved, because they are so appreciated and so loved by so many."

"Anthony Thaxton once again demonstrates his commitment to alma mater, this time by giving of his energy and financial resources to publish Southern Voices: Stories, a project that will benefit students through the MSMS Foundation," said Richardson. "The book is a treasure--as is Anthony."

The book is available now through the MSMS Foundation or on  Proceeds benefit The MSMS Foundation. Show your support by ordering your copies today.

Wade LeonardComment