Fiction, literary fiction, southern fiction, creative writing


Last Kind Word is a novel that explores the ways people seek control and power in the face of the unknowable. Set in the fictional town of Thorpe, South Carolina, the story follows four main characters-Donna Neese, Melissa Burnside, Anthony Washington, and Jill McManus-struggling in the aftermath of biracial teenager Micah Burnside's disappearance. They search for a replacement for the lost connection to Micah and for a sense of control at a time when their lives seem to lack it, when other forces, be they people or circumstances or spirits, hold power over them. In the midst of this, the four of them must decide what life will look like going forward. In Thorpe, theories about what happened to Micah range from the plausible to the fantastical. Those closest to him have their own theories, too, although they are less inclined to share them with the gossip-hungry townspeople. Micah's mother Melissa, reeling from the equally mysterious loss of Micah's father Dan eighteen years earlier and the intense mood swings from her untreated bipolar disorder, is convinced that her son is alive, searching for his father in San Diego. Meanwhile, Micah's grandmother Donna believes that he is dead, murdered by Nick and Nathan Goff, Thorpe's not-so-secret meth dealers who come from a long line of rowdy and dangerous men. Jill, Micah's ex-girlfriend and a recent college drop-out, worries that a prank they played on a hoodoo practitioner is somehow to blame not only for the dissolution of their relationship, but also Micah's disappearance. Jill seeks the aid of a hoodoo conjurer to set things right in the spirit world and, hopefully, her life. Anthony is a black country and blues musician and small-time drug dealer. His work forces him into a tenuous and volatile friendship with the Goffs, one that could explode into anger and violence at any moment. Anthony also thinks the Goffs have something to do with Micah's disappearance, but he believes his friend is alive, just laying low after a lie leads to the Goffs' arrest. These four characters must grapple with long-standing feuds, secrets, and family discord as they try to solve the mystery of Micah's disappearance and come to grips with the possibility that he may never be found.


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Graduation Date





Poissant, David


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Creative Writing








Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities