Southern Voices recognized in MSPA’s Best of MS


Courtesy of Thomas Richardson

MSMS takes home top prizes from MSPA for their annual literary and arts publication.

Stephanie Ressel, Staff Writer

Southern Voices, the literary and arts magazine of MSMS, was recognized twice as a finalist for Best Continuity of Theme and Best Quality of Writing. Among the pieces in Southern Voices, 12 were recognized as part of Best of MS, four of which placed as winners. Naturally, a good magazine comes with a good advisor, and this year’s publication reflects that with Mr. Thomas Richardson winning Advisor of the Year.

Each year the University of Mississippi hosts the MSPA Conference in the fall and spring to recognize the journalistic and creative achievements of Mississippi high schoolers.

Senior Emma Spinks, winner for the category Best Short Fiction with her piece “Small Town Secrets,” said she was grateful to the MSPA for being able to share her short story of the delicate battle of maturing alongside fellow talent from Mississippi.

“I’m also incredibly honored that I was chosen because I know I was up against many other talented writers,” Spinks said. “I want my readers to see what it’s like to live in a small town. For those teenagers who live in towns like this, I hope they feel seen and know they’re not alone.”

Class of 2021 graduate James Harden placed as a finalist in the Best Graphic Illustration class with “Lost and Found,” his experimental expression of hopelessness, and cherished the honor of being acknowledged in the Best of MS.

For the first time since 2019, the MSPA Fall Conference was held in person at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. on Nov. 1. As tradition, the conference began with their Hamilton Keynote Speaker.

Jerry Mitchell, who is a former investigative reporter for The Clarion Ledger, winner of over thirty national awards and Pulitzer Prize Finalist, was this semester’s Hamilton Keynote Speaker.


Here are the highlights:

Best Poem:

Shelby Tisdale, Winner, “Woodworking with Ashes”

Jaylin Jones, Finalist, “Open Casket”

Shelby Tisdale, Finalist, “Exodus”

Best Short Fiction:

Emma Spinks, Winner, “Small Town Secrets”

Jaylin Jones, Finalist, “Zion”

Shelby Tisdale, Finalist, “The Turkey Vultures”

Best Narrative Nonfiction:

Lily Langstaff, Winner, “Hazel Eyes”

Best Personal Essay:

Leslie Lewis, Winner, “Everybody Has Something to Say”

Shelby Tisdale, Finalist, “Small Talk Prayers”

Stephanie Ressel, Finalist, “Lock and Key”

Best Hand-Drawn Art:

Elena Eaton, Finalist, “Man’s Best Friend”

Best Graphic Illustration Art:

James Harden, Finalist, “Lost and Found”

Best Continuity of Theme:

Southern Voices, Finalist

Best Quality of Writing:

Southern Voices, Finalist

Adviser of the Year:

Thomas Richardson, Winner