September 04, 2018

A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue.

I first devoured Robert Gipe’s books and plays because I wanted to understand Appalachia. I was searching for deeper insights than the victim-blaming bootstrap narrative espoused in J. D. Vance’s best-selling book, Hillbilly Elegy—and where else but one of Gipe’s plays would you see convicted felons on a stage, acting right beside probation officers, teachers, and recovery coaches, all of them already bonded in their mutual need to talk about the hard problems around them?

September 04, 2018

A Points South essay from the Fall 2018 issue.

The dock at Mountain Lake is everything a dock should be—whitewashed clapboard, punctuated by an airy pavilion with a red roof—but if you jumped off it, all you’d hit is earth. There is no water here. No puddles even. Just soil, sandstone, milkweed, sassafras, and the occasional pine sapling. Skirting the periphery of the lakebed, a belt of rhododendron holds back the woods. Jutting into a meadow as it does, the dock resembles a hitchhiker’s thumb. Well, I’m not needed here anymore. I might as well move on. 

November 21, 2017

Track 11 – “I’m Going to Organize, Baby Mine” by Sarah Ogan Gunning

In the Eastern Kentucky coalfields, unionism—or its lack—was a creed people held and defended as fiercely as those of the region’s charismatic religions. And the music Sarah Ogan Gunning and her siblings produced between the 1930s and 1960s was as steeped in unionism and communism as it was in the traditional songs, ballads, and hymns of Appalachia.

November 21, 2017
The Old Regular Baptists and the joyful sound.

The Old Regulars sing loud. “You can’t whisper it, it needs to have zip,” one told me. Another: “If you can’t shout down here, what are you gonna do when you get to Heaven?” There is an orderliness to their singing, a formal quality—it has the shape and thrust of liturgy. But it is also indisputably wild.

July 31, 2017

In Rabun, Jennifer Garza-Cuen photographs a community in northern Georgia, a place “steeped in the cultural specifics associated with both the Deep South and Appalachia.”

June 13, 2017

The films and young filmmakers of the Summer Documentary Institute at Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute.

Introducing the film “Justice for All” and its creators, Oliver Baker and Aaron Combs.

June 12, 2017

In Silent Ballad: Time Sings in the Cumberland Plateau, Rachel Boillot explores Appalachia, photographing East Tennessee’s musical heritage along the mountain roads between Signal Mountain and Cumberland Gap.  

June 05, 2017

The films and young filmmakers of the Summer Documentary Institute at Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute.

Introducing the film “Go Your Own Way” and its creators, Jaydon Tolliver, Elyssia Lowe, and Joshua Collier.

May 26, 2017

The films and young filmmakers of the Summer Documentary Institute at Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute.

Generations of eastern Kentucky youth have had to contend with the question of whether to leave, alongside the demeaning narrative of the rural “brain drain.” This reductive theory posits that the best and brightest minds leave rural communities for urban communities. This simplification of data ignores the stories of those who choose to stay or are not able to leave. For many young people here, it is an act of resistance to stay in the community they love.

May 25, 2017

An installment in our weekly series, The By and By. 

The Kentucky I knew looked verdant and sun-dappled as my family drove through the palisades and then the gentle bluegrass on our way to the mountains from the city of Louisville. And even when we reached the mountains themselves, which so physically display the significance of shadow and mystery, I was still in a place that all the grownups around me treasured for its nurturing, its sustenance, its mothering. Even those who’d lived away for decades, in other states, in other countries, still called the mountains “home” because that was what they believed.
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