From 2009 until 2015, our music issue featured a different Southern state every year (raise your hand if you’ve got them all: Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia).
Last year, we departed from the series to examine “Visions of the Blues.”
In 2017, we are returning to the state series. And we are thrilled to share that it’s your turn, Kentucky.
The Commonwealth gave us musicians like Loretta Lynn and Nappy Roots, Richard Hell and Bill Monroe—just to name a very few—and beloved writers like Crystal Wilkinson, Ronni Lundy, Silas House, and our own poetry editor, Rebecca Gayle Howell. This is just a taste of Kentucky and a taste of what’s to come.
Taken over the course of two consecutive summers, the photographs in Rosie Brock’s And Ever Shall Be explore the collision of economic depression and the familiar fantasy of the Southern county fair. A man in a Domino sugar t-shirt sits atop a white horse, a boy in a cowboy hat leans so close to the camera the rest of the world fades out of focus, and a woman, unsmiling, watches a carnival spectacle the viewer can’t see. Meanwhile the sun sets over empty train tracks and a carousel trailer, and the overall effect is at once hopeful and melancholic.
In Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad Jeanine Michna-Bales recreates the long voyage north toward freedom as it might have looked through the eyes of a single individual “oftentimes carrying little more than the knowledge that moss grows on the north side of trees.” These photographs of unpeopled rural landscapes, taken almost exclusively under the cover of descending or ebbing darkness, have about them a sense of both intimacy and mystery, conveying “how vast, strange, and forbidding these remote places must have felt to those making the journey” with an almost painful steadiness of vision.
Forks & Branches is an intimate meditation on the people and landscapes of Western North Carolina, where Aaron Canipe was raised. Tinted with a pervasive sense of loss and nostalgia, the project captures the particular poignancy of an adult returning to the geography of his childhood and reckoning with both his love for the place and a new understanding of its deep flaws, “hurt, detachment, and stubborn grace.”
In Myths of the Near Future Rob Stephenson considers the “Space Coast” of Florida after the closing of the Kennedy Space Center’s shuttle program. Interested both in documenting the very real economic struggles communities surrounding the Space Center have faced in the aftermath of the program’s end, and in exploring the “ambiguous realm between dream and reality, between past and future, nature and technology,” Stephenson’s photographs provide a portrait of a place suspended: “nostalgi[c] for the future as the promise of the Space Age slowly fades away.”
One of eight historic African-American neighborhoods in Raleigh, North Carolina, SE Raleigh was first settled more than 130 years ago. Once a hub for business, education, and cultural life, rising property taxes and increased rent have forced many people in the area to move out of their homes.
In Fair Bluff Evan Simko-Bednarski explores a North Carolina town “in danger of simply fading away,” struggling to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The flood and its destruction come after the one-two punch of the tobacco and textile industries crumbling in the 1990s. As one resident put it, “The town was dying. The hurricane just sped us up by ten or fifteen years.”