|Photo Taken By Galen A. Smith Sr.|
Ole Miss, 1986
I remember learning about Mr. Hannah being at Ole Miss when I saw some of his posters for some books he had written posted around campus. To me, it seemed he just appeared out of nowhere. Little did I know that Mr. Hannah had accepted a position with the university teaching writing courses in the English department on campus and also became our writer-in-residence. Also, he already had several books published, won awards and had taught at other universities. Eventually, I think most students and Oxford citizens realize that we now had another pretty well-known and respected writer in the vicinity besides our other well known writer-in-residence, another Mississippi writer, Willie Morris. Barry and Willie were basically two different types of writers. Mr. Hannah, fiction, and Willie, non-fiction. Although, I am sure that they hung out at night together some with the same people in the same circle of friends at the former Hoka, the famous little bohemian coffee shop and theater in the small university town. And I'm sure some of his quick new friends when he arrived in town were probably of course, Willie, and Ron Shapiro, who owned the Hoka, and Jim Dees who worked there.
|"Week Of Initiation," One of the Short-Stories|
that I wrote for Mr. Hannah's course. I was
proud of the comments he gave me on it.
Eventually, I took Mr. Hannah's fiction writing course and got an "A" in it. I think one of the things he liked about me as a writer is that I took chances by writing such short stories like an expose piece about a fraternity initiation that was loosely based on truth. It was foul-mouth and dirty. But he liked it. In the Summer of 1986, I was the Entertainment Editor of Ole Miss' student newspaper, "The Daily Mississippian." Mr. Hannah allowed me to come to his home and interview him for the student newspaper.
|Written By Galen A. Smith Sr.|
Published June 19, 1986
"The Daily Mississippian"
Eventually as time went by, I lost touch with Ole Miss and Oxford and the local writer's scene with the Hoka and the famous, little, independent book store, "Square Books" where they had a lot of book signings and readings for authors from all over the country and world. By the time 1994 had arrived, it seemed Oxford was in the national spotlight all the time because of legal thriller writer and Oxford resident John Grisham's major success. So I decided to attend the "Second Annual Oxford Conference For The Book" in 1994 that was taken place on campus at Fulton Chapel with a reception following in the library. Superstar horror writer, Stephen King was there along with John Grisham and Mr. Hannah was moderating. Before the session began, I saw Mr. Hannah sitting down on a wall on the side of the building smoking a cigarette and I decided to walk around and talk to him. Obviously, Mr. Hannah was trying to enjoy his cigarette and I started to ask questions about getting published and he got really irritated with me so I decided to back off and leave. However, I did get to shake Mr. King's hand after the session was over with. However, Mr. Grisham was standoffish and apparently didn't want to be bothered either with the public. Apparently, fame and being the center of attention was closing in on him.
Regardless, I held no grudge against Mr. Hannah. I am the one who invaded his space and privacy that day. However, I am extremely happy for Mr. Hannah and his family and grandchildren for being remembered and honored by the City of Oxford and by naming the tennis courts after him since he loved the game of tennis as well as writing and teaching. Mainly, he was an excellent teacher of fiction writing in my opinion and I really enjoyed taking his class. His class was one of the best in my five years at Ole Miss!