“I should have put a stop to that craftsman shit a long time ago,” Guy Clark says. “It makes my skin crawl. It’s nobody’s fault but mine because I didn’t step up and say, ‘No, that’s not right.’ I consider what I do poetry. I don’t need to prove I’m a poet in every line and I’m not afraid to speak plainly in my songs. Not everything needs to be a metaphor and I don’t need lofty words. But it is my obligation as a poet to be faithful to the verse. I write what I know. I write what I see.”
I first wrote Charlie Engle a letter because I was fascinated by his life. It gave me a sense of vertigo to know that when we’d met, in the hills of Tennessee, he’d had no idea what was about to happen, how everything was going to change. I wondered what incarceration was like for him.
We are saddened to learn of the death of legendary Texas music writer Margaret Moser on Friday, August 25. In this feature essay for the OA’s 2014 Texas Music Issue, written just after her cancer diagnosis, Moser shares vivid stories from her pioneering career:
“A life writing about music wasn’t part of the plan, but then I’d had no plan. I had dropped out of high school, didn’t attend college, had no special training or talent for much, other than a knack for making a place for myself where places didn’t exist. I’ve long joked that I got in through the back door, so whenever I am let in through the front door, I run to the back to see who I can let in.”
James Seay explores the geography of Panola County, Mississppi, where his grandfather would often go hunting—a land known as the Tallahachie River bottomlands. Seay realizes in writing about this land that his family had hunted in the same lands where Faulkner mined "scenes and features" for his famed Yoknapatawpha.
In the summer of 1976, Patsy Sims traveled to Mississippi to interview Preacher Edgar Ray Killen about his role—then only suspected—as the organizer of the killing party of three civil rights workers (Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman). She believed him to be a leader in the White Knights of Mississippi, an especially virulent chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. For the interview they sat alone in a motel room in Meridian, Mississippi, where she asked him, point blank, if he’d ever killed anyone.
Louisiana's coastline is shrinking, rapidly. As Anne Gisleson reports, "the United States Geological Survey claims oil and gas companies are responsible for roughly a third of the state’s wetlands degradation." To try and claim reparations for this destruction, writer John Barry recently led the people of Louisiana through a lawsuit that aimed to make these companies "comply with the contracts and permits they themselves signed." This is John Barry's story—his work to save Louisiana.