Amid the chorus of opinions and think pieces, the loudest, most eloquent voice was Mayor Landrieu’s, immortalized in a speech he delivered on May 19, 2017. The remarks were meant to unify the city after a divisive period, but they… by Jeanie Riess | Sep, 2017

I wake from a dream in which I am back at military training, among the classrooms and the clash of Claymores, the hot wake of wind from the report of rifles. Booted feet echo through the hallways, and forced voices… by Paul Crenshaw | Sep, 2017

A story by Jesmyn Ward, the third and final excerpt from her forthcoming novel  Sing, Unburied, Sing. The officer is young, young as me, young as Michael. He’s skinny and his hat seems too big for him, and when he… by Jesmyn Ward | Sep, 2017

A new-society vision in Jackson, Mississippi. Chokwe Antar Lumumba saw Jackson as a last chance. This was a place where long-marginalized black communities could build a new economy for themselves, a democratic and fair society, a foundation for good lives… by Katie Gilbert | Sep, 2017

Trying to achieve black selfhood in Little Rock  The erasure of pre-integration black community also means the loss of artifacts of black joy. Those artifacts, mementos of those places, seem harder to find today, scrubbed from memory, or crowded out… by Frederick McKindra | Sep, 2017

A poem from the Fall 2017 issue. I always wanted to be a mother sucking pinches of moss like cough drops stuffing tiny pinkcheeks with breadcrumbs    would that make you love me more  by Kaveh Akbar | Sep, 2017

An installment in our weekly series, The By and By.  It became impossible for me to jibe the romanticized South with the reality of what that war was actually about, and what it cost. And as I put away childish… by Ronni Lundy | Aug, 2017

A flood is no cooperative beast. It doesn’t distribute itself uniformly. Its edges stretch and shrink, and Houston lay underneath a giant, erratic web of floods, not a single sea but multitudes of individual ones, sprouting like fungus in the… by Micah Fields | Sep, 2017

A story by Jesmyn Ward, the second of three excerpts from her forthcoming novel Sing, Unburied, Sing.  Because I wanted Michael’s mouth on me, because from the first moment I saw him walking across the grass to where I sat… by Jesmyn Ward | Jun, 2017

Cut

An installment in Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris.  Magic and cooking are based on the same principles of transformation, cutting and restoring, vanishing and reappearing. A blue handkerchief suddenly becomes red! A woman sawn in half returns intact! A… by Chris Offutt | Jun, 2017

Think of these women, coming out of the South and up to Milwaukee, arriving finally in tiny, all-white Grafton by either streetcar or automobile and feeling their way in a studio for the first time. As they fought the forces… by Daphne A. Brooks | Feb, 2017

An installment in our weekly series, The By and By. From the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University: To introduce our first story for The By and By, a writing-and-audio narrative around the new book The Blood of Emmett Till, we… by Timothy B. Tyson | Apr, 2017

August 09, 2017

Marketing strategies (which, after all, is all that categories are) may rise and fall, but to the democratic listener they are beside the point. The music calls attention to itself, and then takes you somewhere else. It isn’t really any different than going to Memphis was for me in the first place. One thing inevitably leads to another, and before you know it, you are caught up in the ecstatic dance, the ecstatic trance of the music.

March 30, 2017

“Lesa is a muse, unquestionably,” Jim Dickinson, Chilton’s producer, once said. “Nearly every song on 3rd is about her. 

March 28, 2017

Landlocked in a neighborhood of warehouses, all-night convenience stores and urban decay, where FedEx planes come in close on their approach to the country’s busiest cargo airport, Chris Rooke has sold and hitched sailboats from coast to coast for forty-three years.

February 16, 2017

“No one can tell you why Memphis is as magical as it really is,” said artist and washboard player Jimmy Crosthwait when I interviewed him for The Blues Society, my documentary film-in-progress about the Memphis Country Blues Festivals of the late 1960s. He wasn’t talking only about the magic of a beautiful sunset, a joint, and the sound of the blues, all of which were in profound profusion at the festivals. He was remembering something more elemental, what one of the organizers, the irrepressible Randall Lyon, called the eroico furore, or poetic fury: “It was beautiful to be involved with people who had this heroic enthusiasm for what they were doing.” The Memphis Country Blues Festivals, held yearly from 1966 to 1969, changed the way Memphians—and Americans—think about the blues, and they couldn’t have happened anywhere else.

January 23, 2017

The Oxford American has been nominated for a 2017 National Magazine Award: Zandria F. Robinson’s essay “Listening for the Country” is a finalist in the Essays and Criticism category.

December 08, 2016

Daddy’s truck was one of those places—like a grandmother’s house, a real and actual soul food restaurant, or a barbershop owned by an older black man who guards the radio by silent threat of the revolver in his drawer next to the good clippers—where one could reliably expect to hear either (and only) 1070 WDIA or 1340 WLOK. It was the other side of sound, the other side of Southern blackness, a steady if muffled undercurrent that persisted and quietly buoyed new generations.

November 16, 2016

You can argue endlessly about whether it’s Elvis, W. C. Handy, Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis, Rufus Thomas, Sam Phillips, Dewey Phillips, or Justin Timberlake who best defines Memphis music. I’m going with Jim Dickinson. 

December 27, 2013

When I was a kid in 1970s Memphis, limousines were a rare sight, though two would occasionally appear in traffic. From the backseat of our family station wagon, we’d scream for Mother to pull up closer. We’d know whose it was by the license plate. Elvis Presley’s was not customized. Isaac Hayes’s read MOSES, referring to his nickname, Black Moses. He was leading people to the Promised Land.

November 01, 2013

In the early 1960s, the Staple Singers marched with their gospel rhythms and church-house fervor into the arena of civil rights–inspired folksong. Some saw this as a straying from the one true way, a betrayal even. For the Staples, it was a seamless progression, a greater embracing of all creation. And so it was that a like-minded admirer came by one day to introduce them to a scruffy young songwriter from northern Minnesota.

September 02, 2016

The Memphis Country Blues Festival had a shoestring start in 1966, organized by the Memphis Country Blues Society, an ad hoc group consisting of counterculture figures, musicians, and fans, including Robert Palmer, who would go on to write the seminal book Deep Blues. His daughter, Augusta Palmer, a Brooklyn filmmaker, is seeking to tell the story of the festival in a documentary called The Blues Society.

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