Selling fireworks has traditionally been the province of carny types and college kids, though lately there’s been a change in this small Mississippi slice of the industry. I had driven up from New Orleans, where I live, to join a group of twenty-going-on-thirty-somethings from Lawrence, Kansas, led by my friend Cyrus, to sell fireworks in these hinterlands.
In the middle of downtown Jackson stands a triangle of statues carved in rough-hewn stone, their backs to each other, facing out toward the city: William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Eudora Welty. But Faulkner doesn’t belong, and in his place should be Margaret Walker. Wright, Welty, Walker: those are our Jacksonians, the old guard, the outsiders of gender and race and class whose stony shoulders we stand upon.
Inspired by stories of Hurricane Camille, which devastated the Mississippi coast in 1969, Thomas Pearson explores the ways that communities collectively navigate natural disasters. In Flesh Like Grass Pearson focuses on the tornado-ravaged town of Columbia, Mississippi, as well as the post-Katrina landscape of the Gulf Coast.
Early in 2014, Lewis Hyde, the author of The Gift, came to Jackson, Mississippi, to visit with others who volunteered to spend a handful of months in 1964 teaching and canvassing in the most violent province of Dixie. This was not like most reunions, for people at such events don’t normally talk about the first time they suffered police harassment or were tailed by the Klan, and they don’t screen a movie that was recently made about their experience and then discuss the ways in which the film felt authentic or not.
In memory of T-Model Ford.
Though they started slow and sparse, Ford’s songs revved up quickly, clattering along like a procession of old Cadillacs, their motors jimmied together with wire hangers, the rhythms more beautiful for their brokenness.