By Morgan Bryce

Associate Editor

Acclaimed columnist and author Sean Dietrich spoke to members of the Auburn Rotary Club and local members of the Public Relations Council of Alabama last Wednesday at the Saugahatchee Country Club.

Known more commonly by his fans as “Sean of the South”, Dietrich’s writings in particular focus on the people and ways of life in the American South.

During his speech, Dietrich employed a raconteur-like style to recount stories to the audience of his youth and the origins of his writing career.

Originally from Missouri, Dietrich, his mother and younger sister moved to Walton County, Florida, when he was 14. Following the death of his father two years earlier, he dropped out of school to work to help support his family.

Working in construction and newspaper delivery, Dietrich later switched to a full-time career in music, performing in area churches, bars and restaurants to earn money.

Years later, without a high school diploma or GED, Dietrich said he wanted to go back to school to earn a degree. It was in an English class taught by a teacher named Ms. Fish where he said he unearthed his God-given ability to express himself through writing.

“I sat in (her) class early in the very front desk and said, ‘I’d like to be writer one day I think.’ She said, ‘great, well you’re a little early for class. It doesn’t start for another 20. Wanna write something for me then?’” Dietrich said. “I said, ‘yes ma’am, I would. She said, ‘ok, just tell me who you are in 500 words.’

Within minutes, Dietrich said he penned a piece that moved his teacher to tears.

“My first opening line was, ‘my father shot himself on a Thursday.’ I was always told that the opening line was the most important,” Dietrich joked. “She read it before class and I saw a tear form in the corner of her eye. After class, she took me aside and she said, ‘oh my God. This was really a blessing to read (for) me. And I think truly you might be my first writer that I’ve had in a class, ever.’”

Now, Dietrich is the author of seven published books and has columns that appear in some of the South’s most well-known publications, including the Yellowhammer News, Bitter Southerner and Mobile Press Register.

Currently on a tour of the Southeast with his wife Jamie, Dietrich said his appearance in the Opelika-Auburn area was his fourth in the past year, a community he said he has quickly fallen in love with.

“This is where we would move if we were to sell our house down where we live in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida … no doubt about it that we would move here. We have friends here and we look forward to coming here (each visit),” Dietrich said.

For more information or to read samples of Dietrich’s work, visit or follow his channel on YouTube. He posts a new column daily on his website.

Morgan Bryce

Staff Reporter

Opelika Observer
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