- Walking Safari or, The Hippo Highway and Other Poems (January, 2012)
- Outside the Southern Myth: A Memoir (1997) Jackson: University Press of Mississippi
- Children of the Dark House: Text and Context in Faulkner (1996) Jackson: University Press of Mississippi
- Reading Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury (1996) Glossary and commentary by Stephen M. Ross and Noel Polk. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi
- Eudora Welty: A Bibliography of Her Work (1994) Jackson: University Press of Mississippi
- Turning Points (1986) by John Ray Skates and Noel Polk. Jackson: Mississippi, Committee for the Humanities
- An Editorial Handbook for William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1985) New York: Garland Pub.
- Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun: A Critical Study (1981) Bloomington: Indiana University Press
- The Literary Manuscripts of Harold Frederic: A Catalogue (1979) New York: Garland Pub
- An Anthology of Mississippi Writers (1979) editor with James R. Scafidel
- many textual and manuscript studies of works of Faulkner and Welty
Noel Polk was born in Picayune, Mississippi, on February 23, 1943. He received his B.A. in 1965 and his M.A.in 1966 from Mississippi College. In 1970 he earned his Ph.D.from the University of South Carolina.
For twenty-seven years Po;k was Professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi and the editor of The Southern Quarterly. His early years and the influences the South has had on him are chronicled in his memoir Outside the Southern Myth, published in 1997.
During the summer of 2004, Polk was the featured speaker at an international conference on William Faulkner, sponsored by the Japanese William Faulkner Society in Tokyo. He also taught a mini-seminar on “William Faulkner and Southern Culture” at Hokusei Gakuen University in Sapporo, Japan.
In the fall of 2004, Noel Polk joined the English Department at Mississippi State University and became the editor of the Mississippi Quarterly, a scholarly journal of Southern culture, past and present, which is published by MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. He edited a new edition of Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men for Harcourt Brace and a new edition of William Cather’s The Song of the Lark.
Polk was named a 2005 Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Lodz, Poland, where he lectured for five weeks on the works of famed Mississippi writers William Faulkner and Eudora Welty. Polk’s more than twenty-five book publications include Children of the Dark House: Text and Context in Faulkner (1996); Eudora Welty: A Bibliography of Her Work (1993); and many others.
He is best known for his editorial and critical work on William Faulkner and his critical work on Eudora Welty and has lectured widely on both in this country, Europe, Japan, Australia, and South America. His An Anthology of Mississippi Writers, edited with James R. Scafidel, 1979, was the first to present Mississippi writers in one volume.
His most recent work, Walking Safari or, The Hippo Highway and Other Poems, was published in January 2012 by the Texas Review Press and was the 2011 winner of TRP Southern Poetry Breakthrough Series: Mississippi. He served as a board member of Starkville Reads and a founding member of Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. His last book, Walking Safari, consists primarily of poems written about a trip to Zambia. He explains, “The poems in the first part of this book are set in and/or inspired by my walking safari in the South Luangwa Valley of Zambia in the summer of 2010. Some of the poems are whimsical responses to the guidebook, others taking serious the Mississippi-Africa axis in race relations. The title poem is a long meditation on that axis. Two poems are set in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, where friends took us to an AIDS compound (read: Ghetto) and another to an AIDS hospital. The “other poems” are poems I wrote many years ago and others that I started but recently finished; others are new poems, mostly set in and around my life in Mississippi.”
Noel Earl Polk died at the age of 69 in Jackson, Mississippi, on August 21, 2012, of cancer. At the time of his death, he was living in Starkville, Mississippi. He edited Faulkner’s works for three publishers: Library of America, Random House and Vintage International. He was an internationally- recognized literary scholar regarded by many as the preeminent Faulkner scholar of his generation. His son and daughter survive him.
- Mississippi State’s page for Noel Polk, professor emeritus and editor of The Mississippi Quarterly.
- Ole Miss Writers’ page gives information about Noel Polk
- Clarion-Ledger obituary for Noel Polk.
- Children of the Dark House: Text and Context in Faulkner by Noel Polk are essays by a distinguished Faulkner editor and scholar.