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At noon on Wednesday, October 23, as part of the department’s History Is Lunch series, Will Jacks will discuss his new book Po' Monkey's: Portrait of a Juke Joint.

Outside of Merigold, off an unmarked dirt road, stands Po’ Monkey’s, one of the most famous houses in Mississippi and perhaps its last rural juke joint—now closed to the public. Before the death of the lounge’s owner, Willie Seaberry, in 2016, it was a mandatory stop on the constant blues pilgrimage that flows through the Delta.

“Mr. Seaberry ran Po’ Monkey’s Lounge for more than fifty years, opening his juke joint in the 1960s,” said Jacks. “A hand-built tenant home located on the plantation where Seaberry worked, Po’ Monkey’s was a place to listen to music and drink beer—a place to relax where everyone was welcomed by Mr. Seaberry’s infectious charm.”

In Po’ Monkey’s: Portrait of a Juke Joint, photographer Will Jacks captures the juke joint he spent a decade patronizing. Award-winning writer Boyce Upholt contributed an essay on the cultural significance of the lounge and will speak at History Is Lunch with Jacks.

“For this book we had to think about the difficulties of preservation, historical context, community relations, and cultural tourism,” said Jacks. “Now that Mr. Seaberry is gone, the uncertainty of the future of his juke joint highlights the need for a historical record.”

Will Jacks is a photographer, curator, storyteller, and educator of culture and relationships in the Mississippi Delta, the Lower Mississippi River region, and the American South. He teaches photography and documentary courses in the Mississippi Delta.

Boyce Upholt received his MFA from Warren Wilson College and was a 2017 fellow with the 11th Hour Food & Farming Journalism program at U.C.-Berkeley. A freelance writer, Upholt won the 2019 award for investigative journalism from the James Beard Foundation and was named a 2016 Writer of the Year by the International Regional Magazine Association.

The program will take place in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium in the Two Mississippi Museums--the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum--located at 222 North Street, Jackson. There is no charge to attend. Sales and signing to follow. For more information call 601-576-6998 or email cgoodwin@mdah.ms.gov.

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