Archive for the 'I Just Make People Up' Category

Author Foster Dickson Speaks at Ottawa International Writers Festival

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Poet and biographer Foster Dickson, author of I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker (NewSouth Books 2008) and The Life and Poetry of John Beecher (1904-1980) (Edwin Mellen Press 2009) will give a lecture entitled “Southern Exposure” at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on October at 4:00 pm. Dickson will discuss his complete body of work as Southern studies of oft-neglected people.

I Just Make People Up, based on a series of conversations with author Dickson when he and artist Clark Walker were neighbors, uses Walker’s life and art as prisms to look at creativity, relationships, the ways of seeing, the nature of community, and more. It is the only book about the work of this popular Montgomery, AL artist.

The Life and Poetry of John Beecher explores the work of a man who rebelled against his background as son of a steel executive and, during the Great Depression, began to write powerful, radical, activist poetry. Blacklisted during McCarty era, Beecher later chronicled the outrages of racial segregation. NewSouth Books published a collection of Beecher’s long out of print poetry, One More River to Cross, in 2003.

For more about the Ottawa International Writers Festival, visit the organization website:

Foster Dickson Enjoys Black Belt Treasures, Store That Does More

Sunday, June 21st, 2009 by Suzanne La Rosa

Author Foster Dickson writes about a recent book signing at Black Belt Treasures:

Since my book I Just Make People Up: Ramblings With Clark Walker was published, I’ve had a number of book-signings. One of the most rewarding to date was an event at Black Belt Treasures in Camden, Alabama, a few weeks back. Leaving Montgomery, Clark and I eased off of Highway 80 onto State Road 21, heading southwest toward Camden. After about an hour and a half of winding through barely more than fallow green fields bordered by dilapidated barbed wire fence, we got into Camden.

Whether to call Black Belt Treasures a bookstore, or a gift shop, or a gallery, or a cultural center, I don’t know for sure. It’s actually all these things and more. Situated in Camden’s downtown Black Belt Treasures is housed in a stand-alone building with a variety of arts, crafts, books, packaged specialty food items, and clothing on display — some items attractively placed in the windows to lure passersby. Judy Martin, who coordinated our visit, and Sulynn Creswell, who handles the artwork end of things (I think), were very kind and gracious to Clark and me. Copies of I Just Make People Up were set up on a table in the middle of the store, with a pen already sitting beside the stack. While I talked to one man who had arrived early and wanted to ask a few questions, everyone else jumped on the task of bringing in Clark’s paintings, which would also be made available for sale, and getting them hung on the walls.

The day was a good one. I signed some books, and Clark sold some paintings. The pace was steady. The ladies fixed coffee for everyone, and we chatted or browsed during the lulls. And I got an opportunity to notice in the process how vital this store has become to the Camden community. Alabama’s Black Belt is richer for it.

On the way home, Clark and I were both glad that we said yes to the trip. We settled for a eating a fast-food cheeseburger because Gaines Ridge, a semi-famed restaurant right outside of Camden, didn’t seem open. We got back onto route 21, turning left at what appeared to be an abandoned BP station, and headed through the same green fields home — past the now-bustling people at the small local grocery stores or the not-so-bustling ones sitting around their front-yard picnic tables on a Saturday afternoon. Clark and I rode home, northeastward to Montgomery, knowing we’d discovered new friends at a great store in a place we’d never been before.

I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

I Just Make People Up’s Foster Dickson Wins Surdna Arts Fellowship

Thursday, June 18th, 2009 by Lisa Harrison

Foster Dickson, author of I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker and former NewSouth Books editor, has been awarded a $4,200 Fellowship by the Surdna Arts Teacher Fellowship Program. A complementary $1,500 grant will go to Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, Alabama, where Mr. Dickson has taught creating writing for six years.

Mr. Dickson plans to use the money to explore podcasts and letterpress printing as alternative (non-book) media for the distribution of writing. He will conduct an interview series about living in Alabama now in an effort to further his understanding of Alabama as a “place.”

“I am proud to have this opportunity that the Surdna Foundation has afforded me with this fellowship. As our culture changes, our reading habits change. Learning about media other than books is going to help me better prepare my students to be the creative writers of the future,” Dickson said. “To be learnng about these media by using Alabama as the subject is just a bonus to me.”

Mr. Dickson’s skill at interviewing can be enjoyed in I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker, a biography and retrospective of artist Clark Walker’s work that developed from a series of conversations the two men had when they were neighbors. First Draft magazine says, “Foster Dickson’s narrative biography of Clark Walker is a triumph of the as-told-to style of writing.”

I Just Make People Up is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.