Michael Copperman On His Return to Mississippi

The following is a guest post from Michael Copperman. Copperman is the author of the new book Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta -- a mesmerizing account of the realities of working with Teach For America in one of the country's poorest and most challenged regions. This weekend Copperman will be returning to Mississippi for the first time in 6 years to participate in the Mississippi Book Festival (details below). 

He writes below about  his return and what he's looking forward to

To begin: a return.

To return, experience anew and reflect; to return again.

Which is to say that I am coming to Mississippi, where as the sign says, “It’s Like Coming Home.”

My memoir, Teacher, opens with my return to the Mississippi after some four years away—driving the long straight stretch of 61 out of Memphis, across the Mississippi border, and down into the flats and fields of the Delta after some four years away, and coming back to the town where I taught in the public schools. Back through the long flat furrowed cotton fields, under a depthless sky, to return to the school where I taught fourth grade, and was never the same—not the same naive, idealistic young man, and never without the memory of the kids I taught, as I carry still their foolishness and clamor and bravado, their perilous shine and wonder, their unfilled promise.

Now, it has been another six years, and what I am most looking forward to is seeing them, these kids whose lives I still follow through social media—some still in the town where I taught, grown into adult lives of their own and children and rent and jobs, and some finishing community college in the area, or bound on scholarship to Memphis. Some perhaps who I am not in touch with, but might see on the street, or meet up with at the Sonic where I am fitting to buy all the curly fries and burgers and shakes these kids—no, no, these young adults—whose lives changed me the years I taught them. Who made me into the educator and man I am today.

I am also looking forward to the small things—to the hush puppies and catfish and okra, to live blues undivorced from origins, to seeing old friends, teachers and roommates and mentors, and to the pleasure of returning with a book, and having had the good fortune to have a press as respected as UPM support it with release events.

I cannot wait to be back in Mississippi, and see what has changed, and who the children I taught have become.

Michael Copperman will be speaking on the Schools in Change panel at the Mississippi Book Festival on Saturday, August 20 at the State Capitol. The panel discussion begins at 11:15.

He will be also signing and reading from his new book at Turnrow Books on August 22 at 5:30 p.m.; Square Books on August 23rd at 5:00 p.m.; and at the VIZ Reading Series in Hattiesburg on August 26 at 8:00 pm.

Read more about the book at www.mikecopperman.com