March 17, 2020

An Omnivore essay from the Spring 2020 issue. 

All kinds of rumors followed Mr. Myers around campus, most of which, it turns out, had some basis in fact: that he was a ferocious tennis player who hated to lose; that he was on his third wife, or maybe it was his fourth; that he’d served in the Marine Corps in World War II and had been the white commanding officer of an all-black unit in the Pacific Theater. But the thing I remember most about Mr. Myers as a teacher had nothing to do with the books we read in his class or the sparse, vague comments I remember him leaving in the margins of papers, at least those he chose to return.

November 10, 2020

Originally published in our 1993 Music Issue 

Long before any R.E.M. albums went gold or platinum, the band’s omnipresence on the college scene made them as much an oppressive force in bookworm circles as the “mainstream” music they were supposed to be an “alternative” from was to the rest of the world. 

June 30, 2016

After a long stay in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas, I was going home to my Appalachians, the Blue Ridge of Virginia. I could tell you more about that summer—about loneliness, maybe—but this is not a story about that.

September 05, 2017

Hunting season swept through my hometown with the crisp northern winds that sent leaves and trash dancing down King Street, near the Old Spanish Trail. In late fall, the town’s annual hunters’ gathering—Buck Fever—packed the county fairgrounds with guns and taxidermy and families wearing matching camouflage outfits, scents of damp hay and manure and hot funnel cakes swirling together in the cool dry air. It seemed like everyone in Seguin went to Buck Fever, and even though we weren’t real hunters, my family went, too. 

September 03, 2019

A Points South essay from the Fall 2019 issue

Once, in mixed company, another friend and I mentioned how pervasive lynching imagery was. A white friend admitted that she had never seen a single photo. I was shocked, but not surprised. A lynching was a warning. She didn’t need to be warned.

November 10, 2020

Originally published in our 2001 Music Issue 

“One night we were at the house getting ready to go to a concert later that evening, and it was just pouring down with rain, and thunder was cracking,” Peebles told the Memphis Flyer in 1994. “All of a sudden I popped up and said, ‘Man, I can’t stand the rain.’ And Don looked at me and said, ‘Ooh, that’s a good song title!’”

November 10, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue

Great Black music is that which isn’t trying to impress or entreat or even necessarily communicate with a white audience—or any audience. Instead, great Black music works to retrieve what Rahsaan Roland Kirk called the missing Black notes: the sounds and calls and rhythms and cries that colonizing languages submerge, reconstituted of the very lexicons that would have liked them to vanish from sound and memory. 

June 13, 2017

Freshwater bivalves evolved by sending their larvae up rivers in the gills of spawning salmon. Now, like their ocean ancestors, they live out some of the most obscure lives on the planet, clasped in a darkness of their own creation, sometimes for up to a century or more. “Under a firmament of nacre,” wrote the French poet Francis Ponge about the oyster. A firmament, yes, because, like the sky, it is vast and ancient. Because, like the sky, you can get lost in it.

August 25, 2020

An essay from the archive republished in the Place Issue

Happy to have this discussion with me, they didn’t notice that for the first time in her life, their only daughter had realized that there might be places she couldn’t go, things she couldn’t do, because of the color of her skin. They didn’t notice that a kind of racial fear took root in my bones that day. 

November 10, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue

The first songs that I listened to by Talibah Safiya had this soft, sweet, plaintive quality. There is something else underneath if you listen a bit closer: a little loneliness. The knowledge that this sweetness is fleeting. Even though these first songs that I listened to maybe didn’t sound like the blues (one streaming platform calls the tunes Millennial Jazz), the blues was certainly riding under the skirt of that sweetness.