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

A story from our 2001 Southern Music issue. I first heard Charley Patton thirty years ago, on a two-LP compilation called The Story of the Blues, which I won in a contest. My adolescent ear was immediately sucked in by… by Tom Piazza | Jul, 2001

 A Letter from the Editor, Summer 2017. For the second year in a row, our summer issue contains a special section of Southern Journeys. In typical Oxford American fashion, these five journeys aren’t your average trip itineraries or travel guides, though we… by Eliza Borné | Jun, 2017

We wore cowboy boots and Wrangler jeans hitched around our skinny waists with braided belts and rodeo belt buckles and fought with other aspiring tough boys who called themselves cholos. No doubt I was getting a reputation around town as… by Roger D. Hodge | Jun, 2017

A short story from our Summer 2017 issue.  I opened my eyes and looked at the patient. Her eyes were open, too, wide and lively against the tautness of her face. They were the same eyes of my aunt Lydia… by Gothataone Moeng | Jun, 2017

An installment in our weekly story series, The By and By.  As soon as we entered the town, a warren of stone houses perched on a ridge, maybe home to five hundred, I got the feeling of something vaguely sinister… by Matthew Neill Null | Jul, 2017

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2017 issue.  Well, then, this is what I am: adopted Southerner; no longer a part of the church in which I was raised, but still Protestant, albeit an increasingly reluctant one; saddened by what… by Jamie Quatro | Jun, 2017

Photographs from the Summer 2017 issue by Johanne Rahaman with an introduction by Sarah Stacke. Built in the early 1940s, Blodgett Homes is a 654-unit public housing complex. According to Cherlise, who was born in 1982, the community there used… by Sarah Stacke and Johanne Rahaman | Jun, 2017

A classic John T. Edge column from the OA archive.  One of the only places the Allman Brothers really felt at home was at Mama Louise Hudson’s soul food restaurant in Macon, Georgia. by John T. Edge | Jun, 2017

At the beginning of 2013, a contest in the Florida Everglades opened, allowing the public hunting of invasive Burmese pythons. Hunters from across the country descended on the Florida wetlands in search of the prey.

A poem from the Spring 2017 issue.

Beneath the knotted rows of cane 
that hid me, thrummed knuckle-red,
a belting out—ribs, wrist, my gone warble 
knocked soundless, torched wails uprooting:
What a song to be bosomed with.

 

A poem from the Spring 2017 issue.

I remember the raw December weather,
boys shouting curses and most of them drunk.

I remember the wind in the barley stubble.
I remember the man they dragged from the trunk.

A poem from the Spring 2017 issue.

Never allow your heaven to grow too large,
the raven said, when I stepped out, first light.
But it was not a raven. I am lying.

’Til the Day I Die is a visual exploration of gospel and blues, shot on Super 8mm film.

We should probably start with the Cowboy. He’s the one you should have met. We all called him a genius. He neither confirmed nor denied. “I ain’t saying I’m a genius,” he’d parry. “But you’ve got to be pretty smart to get all them people saying that on cue.”

Floyd Council’s heart gave out on May 9, 1976: bad cholesterol and, in the end, kidney failure. He was sixty-four. He’s buried outside my hometown of Sanford, North Carolina. If you take Lower Moncure Road east beyond the 421 overpass, you’ll see a few identical grey trailers, a low brick ranch-style house, and a tobacco field, and then the road curves left and the trees close in again. A church used to stand here, and in the long grass between the shoulder and the pines some gravestones are peeking up through the green. Not much remains of the cemetery, and nothing of the chapel, White Oak AME Zion, abandoned for years and finally torn down in 2014. Broke and a widower, Council was buried here without a marker. And now that the grass has grown long and trees have sprouted up, the blues guitarist’s grave is lost.

A Points South essay from our 18th Southern Music Issue: Visions of the Blues. 

The spirit of Southern outsider music has taken partial possession of many artists through the years—Charlie Feathers comes to mind, as do Link Wray, Hasil Adkins, and the train-obsessed 1920s banjo player Willard Hodgins. But as a fully realized manifestation—eccentricity expressed as bizarre and beautiful words and sounds—that spirit was at least thrice incarnate in the twentieth century: in the persons of Tennessee ballad singer Hamper McBee, Georgia banjo player Abner Jay, and Guitar Shorty of Elm City, North Carolina.

The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded by Molly McCullly Brown is out today from Persea Books. 

Please join us in congratulating our colleague Rebecca Gayle Howell, whose new collection American Purgatory is a powerful book offering a hope in community that shares struggle and defiance.

In “A Town Under Trial,” from our Spring 2017 issue, reporter Nick Tabor relates how an unsolved 1994 double murder continues to haunt a small town in southwest Kentucky. To capture Oak Grove and its trailer parks and “commercial strips of liquor stores, topless bars, and cash-advance shops” familiar to military towns across the country, we enlisted Nashville-based photographer Tamara Reynolds, who was already familiar with the area. Her images convey the tenuous, transitory nature of habitation and commerce in Oak Grove and the unavoidable influence of the military-industrial complex on life there.

In the early 1990s, New Life Fitness & Massage kept its lights on twenty hours a day, closing at five every morning and reopening at nine. Everyone in Oak Grove knew it was a brothel. Fort Campbell, one of the nation’s largest Army posts, sits on top of the Kentucky-Tennessee border, and New Life stood right outside its northern gates next to Interstate 24. Many of its clients were Screaming Eagles: paratroopers from the famous 101st Airborne Division. Most of the others were truckers off the highway and locals of all stripes; some say judges and other dignitaries would come up from Nashville, an hour down the highway, to be ushered in and out covertly.