Mississippi and the Great Depression has been nominated for the 2018 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award, Non-Fiction category. See nominees here
Mississippi and the Great Depression is a finalist in the 2017 Foreword INDIES Book Awards, Regional Category. See all finalists here
Richelle Putnam is listed on the Mississippi Arts Commission Artist/Teaching Artist Roster, and the Mississippi Humanities Speaker Board. She is a recipient of the 2014 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. A graduate of Gotham Writers of New York’s Memoir Certificate program and Fiction Certificate program, she holds diplomas from The Institute of Children’s Literature, Open College for the Arts Advanced Writing Program, Writers Digest, and other accredited writing institutions, such as the University of Iowa. She has taught Creative Writing at Meridian Community College and through libraries, schools and online. Her writing awards include Writers Digest, Writers Journal, World Wide Writers, New Millennium, and more. Richelle’s songs and lyrics have been awarded by American Songwriter Magazine, Mike Pinder’s Songwars, UK Songwriting Competition, Billboard World Song Contest, and Song of the Year. They have also been featured on IRADIO LA, Band Radio, Midnight Special Blues Radio, Dr. Lou and the House of Blues Hour, Women of Substance Radio, Radio Crystal Blue, Acoustic Fuel, Pongid, WomensRadio, Skope Magazine Radio and more. Her lyrics have placed in four American Songwriter Magazine Songwriting Contests and was a 2nd place winner featured in the magazine and on their website. She co-wrote the play, Women of Potta Chitto, and a nine-song soundtrack , with Ralph Gordon, which is a historical play set during the Civil War. She also co-wrote Was It Worth It? , a one-act play, which features William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, and Muna Lee. Her literary work has been published in Common Ties, Pif Magazine, The Copperfield Review, Birmingham Arts Journal and three bestselling series: A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Daughters and A Cup of Comfort for Christmas Prayer and A Cup of Comfort Twelve Days of Christmas and more and was also chosen for The Copperfield Review’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Anthology. She is the managing editor and writer for The Bluegrass Standard, while also writing for Town & Gown Magazine, Mississippi Magazine, eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI, Parents & Kids, Well Being, Portico, and Social South magazines. History Press commissioned her to write Lauderdale County, Mississippi; a Brief History, released in November 2011. She co-authored Legendary Locals of Meridian, Mississippi (Arcadia Publishing) with June Davidson, released October 2013. Her young-adult nonfiction book The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty, published by History Press April 2014, received the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Silver Medal in YA non-fiction ebook and was nominated for the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award, non-fiction category. Her book, Mississippi and The Great Depression, released November 13, 2017 ), was nominated for the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award, non-fiction category and is a finalist in the 2017 Foreword Indies Book Awards in the Regional non-fiction category. She is currently working on another non-fiction book project with the History Press of Mississippi to be co-authored with author/artist Dianne Williams. Richelle was commissioned by the Mississippi Secretary of State to write the East Central section of the Bicentennial Mississippi History Book to celebrate Mississippi's 200 years as a state, which has been released for download!
Click here for the MPB Arts hour with jodie engle and richelle putnam
In 1999, I began a serious writing career. I had a long, long way to go. Though I'd always written poetry and stories, all stored in file folders and stashed away in the closet, I had no idea of how to go about editing pieces, preparing manuscripts, finding submission guidelines, submitting to publishers, accepting and understanding rejection, and staying focused and determined. I took my first writing course, then my second and third. I attended writers conferences and workshops and became a volunteer at writing events, and met so many amazing writers, editors and agents who helped me along the way. I worked my way up in the ranks to become a conference coordinator for Southern Breeze, a chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Through determination and perseverance, my short stories, poetry and book manuscripts found publication. I had sought advice from other state writers organizations, because Mississippi didn't have a statewide organization. Thus, my next journey began.
This journey began is 2002. Working closely with the Florida Writers Association, I learned what it would take to start a statewide writers organization and what it took to be a 501c3 non-profit. For a year, I corresponded with three other writers who were interested in helping pursue the organization. Two of the three had to pull out, but Keetha DePriest Mosley, hung in there to continue the journey. In Meridian, I invited writer Anne McKee to join the founding forces. I obtained the attorney to file the corporation papers and bylaws and in 2005 Mississippi Writers Guild was incorporated. In 2007 it was approved for a 501c3 non-profit status. Though the MWG founding board was Keetha, Anne and me, the first board, which included Ralph Gordon, Daniel Lee and Virginia Dawkins, carried the Guild to the next level. Without them, success would not have happened. Since then, MWG has provided many writing workshops, events and conferences. Please take time to visit Mississippi Writers Guild and become a part of a growing institution of writers.
In 2006, I was accepted to the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) Artist Roster and in 2008, I was accepted to the Mississippi Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster. Since then, I have enjoyed working with teachers, arts specialists, and other teaching artists in integrating arts into education. I have participated in special training sessions, including the SPED initiative made possible through a partnership between MAC and The John F. Kennedy Center. More importantly, I have worked with incredible students of all ages, from Pre-K to high school students, integrating drama, poetry, songwriting, story into curriculum to meet Common Core Standards. Becoming a graduate of the Parent Learning Institute through Parents for Public Schools was a great challenge, but an incredible opportunity to learn more about education from the inside out, what's expected of teachers, what's expected of students and how active parents can help change and mold their children's schools into successful learning institutions. This has probably been the most rewarding part of my artist life.
In 2010, I was accepted onto the Mississippi Humanities Speaker Board. As a Humanities Speaker, I often talk about story and how to develop your voice and your style. Storytelling is as ancient as history itself. We are created to tell stories so our story lives on. Preserving stories is nothing new in Mississippi, but it's important to preserve them on paper so they do live forever. My desire as a Humanities Speaker is to encourage people to tell their stories, preserve their stories and support efforts in their community to archive stories so generations to come may know what it was like 100 years before their existence. My goal is to teach how to tell and write your stories in a way that allows readers to experience the story as an active participant. In others words, revealing your story scene by scene rather than just telling your story. In this photo I am performing "Ballad of Meridian," the song I wrote specifically for the City of Meridian's sesquicentennial celebration. This song was a top winner in City Love's "Song About a City" and was included on the "Song About a City" CD. Forging productive, prosperous futures is impossible without knowing the past and "the truth" about how we arrived at where we are today. The past is nothing to fear, but something to ponder and come to terms with to fully realize its potential power over us. Hiding the past doesn't change it, but empowers it to rule over us forever.
Becoming a published author is every writer's dream, but all too often the long journey that goes along with the dream is not taken into consideration. The trek can be exhausting and the disappointments along the way stifle creativity, confidence and initiative--if you are ONLY looking at the goal, rather then the journey. What helped me on my trek to publishing was using my journey and every step along the way as a learning experience to be cherished and shared with others. I learned that the journey is never over, just like learning never ends. So, don't hurry your journey. Enjoy the scenery along the way. Meet people. Take detours. Don't miss out on learning opportunities. Stop, look, and above all listen! For only when you listen, will you hear the great stories you are destined to write.
Dreams never stop. In fact, they get bigger and brighter and bolder. When dreams comes true, you realize they were only ideas -- your ideas -- and you had the power to expand on them, plan them, and change them into reality. Yes, by all means be bold. Dare to believe in yourself, in your dreams and in your ability to make them come true. You never know who is watching you; you never know who will be inspired by your determination, diligence and perseverance. Reach out, share your knowledge, experience and time. A little success is never about fame. It's about developing relationships and building communities where creativity thrives and where we dare to gather as diverse individuals to share ideas and make bigger dreams come true for one another.
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Dare to Dream. Dare to Discover. Dare to Do.
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written and performed by Richelle Putnam
(Richelle Putnam - vocals, guitar; Joey Ethridge, guitar, keyboard)