- Domains (poetry)
- Local Men (poetry)
- Actual Size (poetry)
- Near at Hand (poetry)
- Joiner (novel)
James Tillotson Whitehead was born on March 15, 1936, in St. Louis, Missouri. His parents are Dick Bruun Whitehead and Ruth Ann Tillotson. His family moved to Jackson, Mississippiafter World War II , where he attended Liberty Grove Elementary School and Bailey Junior High School. He graduated from Central High School in Jackson, where he played football. He received a four-year football scholarship to Vanderbilt University where he earned both a B. A. and a M.A. degree.
Known to his friends as “Big Jim” because of his height of six foot six inches, Whitehead considered becoming a professional football player, but a football injury at Vanderbilt ended that dream. Whitehead then decided to become a Presbyterian minister, so he majored in philosophy. However, he later decided that his true calling was to be a creative writing teacher and a poet, so he earned a master’s in English from Vanderbilt before going to the University of Iowa where he earned a MFA in Creative Writing.
Whitehead began teaching at the University of Arkansas in 1965 and taught and wrote there for thirty-five years. He was a co-founder of the Creative Writing program at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. His students included author Steve Yarbrough and Barry Hannah.
Whitehead published four books of poetry and one novel called Joiner which was named one of the New York Times’ Noteworthy Books of the Year in 1971. This novel is a story about a former football player who is intellectual and passionate about the arts, history, as well as sports.
James Whitehead married Guendaline Graeber of Yazoo City on August 15, 1959, and together they raised seven children, including triplets. They were married for forty-four years.
Among the literary awards Whitehead received are a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction and a Robert Frost Fellowship in Poetry.
Whitehead died on August 15, 2003 in Fayeteville, Arkansas, of an aneurism.
- Gifted writer, instructor James Whitehead dies at 67 Aug. 16, 2003 by Jerry Mitchell of The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi).
- James Whitehead, 67, Author of ‘Joiner,’ Novel of Deep South. New York Times (2003)
- Black, Patti Carr and Marion Barnwell. Touring Literary Mississippi. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2002. 92,93.
- “James Whitehead Obituary.” The Clarion-Ledger. August 17, 2003.
- James Whitehead, 67, Author of ‘Joiner,’ Novel of Deep South, Dies. New York Times Obituary for Jim Whitehead. August 20, 2003