Mercer Instructor Mitcham Named Georgia Poet Laureate


MACON — Gov. Nathan Deal has named Mercer University writing instructor Judson C. Mitcham as Georgia Poet Laureate. Mitcham succeeds College of Liberal Arts graduate David Bottoms, who had held the post for 12 years. Mitcham lives in Macon and teaches in the University’s creative writing program.

“Judson has been among my favorite poets ever since I met him at a reading 20 years ago,” said Dr. Gordon Johnston, professor of English and head of the creative writing major. “His poems were so warm and human and so true to the lives of the kind of people I grew up with here in Georgia that I felt a kinship to him. His poems have that effect on people. His novels do, too. Word that he is poet laureate makes me proud to be a Georgia native.”

Mitcham’s work has been published in literary journals including Georgia Review, Poetry, Hudson Review and Harper’s Magazine. He has published three collections of poems, including This April Day (2002) and A Little Salvation (2007). Mitcham’s first collection, Somewhere in Ecclesiastes, earned him the Devins Award and Georgia Author of the Year in 1991. His novel The Sweet Everlasting was published in 1996 and was awarded the Townsend Prize for Fiction, as well as his second Georgia Author of the Year award. His novel, Sabbath Creek, published in 2004, also won the Townsend Prize for Fiction, making Mitcham the first author to receive the award twice. He is also a recipient of the Pushcart Prize for his work.

Mitcham has held fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Georgia Council for the Arts. He retired in 2004 from Fort Valley State University, where he taught psychology and served as department chairman. Following his retirement, he has served as adjunct professor of creative writing at the University of Georgia and at Emory University. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he completed multiple degrees, his final being a doctorate in psychology.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at four regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus — and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program.
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