“I'll tell you why I like writing: it's just jumping into a pool. I get myself into a kind of trance. I engage the world, but it's also wonderful to just escape. I try to find the purities out of the confusion. It's pretty old-fashioned, but it's fun.” – Barry Hannah
Born on this date in 1942, Hannah was a novelist, short story writer and professor of writing (at the University of Mississippi). A “mostly” lifelong Mississippian, he was born in Meridian and died in Oxford, the home of William Faulkner, and he said from time-to-time he felt like he was living in Faulkner’s shadow as he pursued his own career.
Among Hannah’s many awards were the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters’ “Fiction Prize” (twice) and the Governor’s Award for his representation of Mississippi in artistic and cultural matters. Among his 12 books were 5 highly lauded short story collections leading to his selection for the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Art of the Short Story. He also won a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Robert Penn Warren Lifetime Achievement Award just prior to his death in 2010.
Hannah said that music always played a role in his writing, both within the works themselves and as he did the writing.
“Some writers are curiously unmusical. I don't get it. I don't get them,” he said. “For me, music is essential. I always have music on when I'm doing well. Writing and music are two different mediums, but musical phrases can give you sentences that you didn't think you ever had.”
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