Brookhaven native published in NYT

Published 8:16 pm Saturday, March 5, 2016

Writing can inspire the masses to do great things. It is educating, rewarding and, at times, funny. It can provide an outlet for individuals in different ways.

At least that’s what Kirby Posey, a Brookhaven native, thinks.

Posey proved writing can be fun when the New York Times recently published his short story, “A New Yorker with a Southern Accent,” in its Metropolitan Diary, a regional section of the paper.

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“The story I submitted to the NYT is about my first visit to New York City,” Posey said. “I was 25 years old at the time. I was with my parents and it was the autumn of 1988. I had just moved to the Washington, D.C. area. Mama and Daddy flew up from Mississippi to visit me there. Mama abruptly and without warning decided she wanted to see New York City for the first time. Before we knew it, we were on a northbound train in the middle of the night.”

Thinking back on his first experience with his mother and father in New York, Posey said he could not help but laugh and that is what inspired him to write the story.

“I write down things that happen to me,” Posey said. “I always have. It is like a compulsion. That first visit to New York City was so exciting and so much happened while we were there, it just made a nice little story about southerners in a big northern city. I was going to write about it no matter what. But back then I never imagined it would eventually get into the New York Times.”

“The Metropolitan Diary is for New Yorkers about New York,” Posey said. “I am a long-time reader of the Metro Diary. One day I was reading it and thought, “My little New York story might fit nicely in this section. ‘So I sent it in. Immediately, a computer-generated response bounced back saying something like, ‘We get tons of these. We can’t respond to them all. We will let you know if we’re considering your story.’ I figured that was that. Then, after few days, a gentleman from the Times contacted me via email and said they were considering my story and asked me all kinds of questions about it.”

Posey said December, January and part of February went by before he heard anything about his story.

“Finally, one Sunday night in February, I logged onto and there it was,” Posey said. “It was just a small piece, no big deal really, but it in was the New York Times.”

From an early age, Posey said he fell in love with books and writing.

“I write because I can’t help myself,” Posey said. “It’s something I have to do. And I write because I think it would be a shame to lose some of these wonderful Mississippi stories I have heard about and have been a part of over the years. Hopefully, at some point in the future, we might read these stories and they will generate a smile or a laugh or two. They’re all true. No creative fiction here. These stories also make a nice little historical record I think.”

Posey said most of his short stories are generated from funny experience he had growing up in Brookhaven.

“Brookhaven has so many wonderful people who love to laugh,” Posey said. “And they are great storytellers. Both my parents, Larry and Willene, are great storytellers; and my aunt, Urline; and my grandfather, the late Mack Smith. He used to make us howl with laughter. Sometimes, they are not trying to be funny at all, but I find it difficult to keep a straight face. Anything that makes me laugh usually gets written down whether I am directly involved or not.”

Posey graduated from Loyd Star High School in 1981 and Copiah-Lincoln Community College in 1983. He then graduated from Mississippi State University in 1985 with a degree in mathematics and from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in 2000 with a degree in demography and statistics.

Posey ended up going to work for the U.S. Census Bureau in 1988 after following a childhood dream, he said.

“Growing up, Mama had bought those World Book encyclopedias, you know the ones that come in several different volumes from A to Z,” Posey said. “I used to read those things and, without fail, I would end up on the same pages time after time. They were pages that showed demographic data for a state or a country or a town. I would take the data and do all sorts of things with it. It fascinated me. It still does. I noticed, down at the bottom of the page there was a source listed. It read ‘Source: U.S. Census Bureau.’ I thought, ‘I can work for them.’ So I grew up, studied math at Mississippi State and eventually got a job at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, D.C. like I said I would.”

Posey said he has a number of favorite authors and writers and that it was too hard to choose just one.

“I have an autographed copy of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’” Posey said. “It reads ‘To Kirby G. Posey – best wishes, Harper Lee.’ ‘Mockingbird,’ I think, is my all-time favorite. ‘Mockingbird’ said what it had to say when it had to say it and did so eloquently. I felt as though I had lost a family member when Miss Lee died recently. So, Harper Lee. Definitely Harper Lee. A close second is Mississippi’s own Eudora Welty.”

Posey said if he could give any advice to a young writer it would be to write what you want and have a good time doing it.

To read Posey’s story, visit