Crossroads 500: Starting in Central Georgia

Starting today, we’re launching the Crossroads 500, a list of the coolest writing people, places and things. Three times a week — usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday — every week from here until the end of the year, we’re going to share six new entries into the Crossroads 500.

The best part is that you can help us make it happen. Share your favorites by clicking here: Tell us who and what should be in the Crossroads 500.

It’s another way to help you get that story out of you and into the heads of the people who deserve it. But it’s also our way of shining the light on the folks who might otherwise be ignored.

And to kick things off, we’re starting our list in central Georgia, home of the Crossroads Writers Conference.

In no particular order, here we go…

Mercer University Press isn’t your traditional university press. Instead they specialize in Southern literature and books about Southern culture. That’s just one reason we like them so much. In addition to being good folks, they’ve been good partners with the conference, launching both their Macon poetry collection “Writing on Napkins in the Sunshine Club” and their writing awards for fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. Follow them on Twitter and meet ’em in person at Crossroads this October.

This year’s conference, our fifth, will be at Mercer University, a short walk to Jittery Joe’s in Mercer Village. This eclectic coffee shop was born and raised in Athens, Georgia, but migrated to Macon, lured by “the song and soul of the South.” Now, if you’re looking for a good local caffeine supplier–whether in Macon or Athens–this is the place to “get your story on.”

But what shall ye read over coffee? Ask Eric at the Golden Bough Bookstore in downtown Macon. Not only do they carry all the awesome stuff that the big box stores neglect, but many are “gently used” and he takes trade. Better still, his doors are almost always open to the creative community, whether it’s a noise punk band or someone’s first reading as a published author.

While you’re in Macon, don’t forget to stop by the Sidney Lanier Cottage for a visit. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a reading when you do. This former childhood home of poet, lawyer, soldier and musician Sidney Lanier has become a hub for central Georgia’s writing community. It also serves as the home of Historic Macon, a nonprofit that works hard to preserve the city’s historic houses and buildings.

If you liked that, gas up and head to Andalusia, about 30 minutes away in Milledgeville. This is the family farm where Flannery O’Connor lived, wrote and played with her pet peacocks. Many of her eccentric and thoroughly Southern characters were inspired by real folks in the area. Stop by a gas station there for a biscuit and listen in to the conversations being had.

That might just inspire you to pick up the pen and craft a little fiction yourself. If that’s the case, park your seat at Blackbird Coffee in downtown Milledgeville, grab some java and see what happens. Who knows, you start brainstorming with a student from our last Crossroads 500 entry in this installment, the creative writing program at Georgia College & State University, which publishes both the Flannery O’Connor Review and Arts & Letters. Faculty members Alice Friman and Allen Gee have both shared their knowledge at Crossroads before.

Crossroads 500:

Andalusia Farm

GCSU’s MFA in Creative Writing

Golden Bough Bookstore

Jittery Joe’s Coffee

Mercer University Press

Sidney Lanier Cottage

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