A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue I have wanted to visit this house for years. Like many North Carolina kids, I grew up with the broad strokes of Thomas Wolfe’s story, the prolific, small-town genius who became… by Stephanie Powell Watts | Jun, 2019

Thomas Jefferson, Pharrell, and more notes on the state of Virginia  Now, when strangers ask me where I’m from, I say, “Virginia Beach. We gave the world Pharrell. You’re welcome.” Pharrell was the black cosmopolitan force that proved my home… by Mychal Denzel Smith | Jun, 2019

Zora Neale Hurston’s lessons in writing a love story At one point, sitting in the Beinecke Library, I closed my eyes and let my fingers fall on random sentences of Hurston’s masterwork. Word for word, sentence for sentence, Their Eyes… by Regina Porter | Jun, 2019

A poem from the Summer 2019 issue. Here it is iftar and I forgot to eat I’m banqueting on a spice that’s not on this table by Mohja Kahf | Jun, 2019

We would like to hear from you.  The magazine will begin publishing letters to the editor in the fall issue and going forward. If you would like to respond to a story published in the magazine, we welcome your letter. by Oxford American | Jun, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue.  Today we think of the fight for educational equality as being a national story, one involving a progressive Supreme Court, a reluctant president, and a recalcitrant governor in Arkansas, but the struggle… by Rachel Louise Martin | Jul, 2019

 A Letter from the Editor, Summer 2019. At the Oxford American, we receive many pitches for stories in the category of “pilgrimages,” or “literary road trips,” or “retracing X’s steps.” I understand the appeal: the traveler can see with her… by Eliza Borné | Jun, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue.  I am angry. I am sad. I cry. I shout. I don’t understand. I am good about not expressing any of it with the van, especially when I have my daughters with… by Duncan Murrell | Jun, 2019

An installment in John T. Edge’s Points South column, Local Fare. Costumes transform their bar into a theatrical production, Feizal said to me that day in the jungle room. “You watch someone put on a Big Bird suit and then… by John T. Edge | Jun, 2019

August 14, 2018

In a 2017 interview with Bill Flanagan, Bob Dylan held forth on his views regarding Don McLean’s “American Pie,” a song that I have loathed with an almost inchoate malice since first encountering it as a young child. Dylan didn’t seem like a fan either, and in particular addressed the long-standing conjecture that he himself was the so-called “jester” referred to in McLean’s bloviating marathon.

August 02, 2018

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

The pilgrimage to The Store is a ritual exercise of re-centering that anchors me in something common and universal; strangers converge at a single nexus for that unavoidable suburban rite, the completion of errands, and I happily join the other shoppers wandering through rows of soda, dog food, and detergent like a sleepy school of fish.


June 14, 2018

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

Violence as a concept is easy to oppose, but it is harder to condemn human beings tangled in the various machines of violence that permeate our world. I’m unable to clear the hurdle of invalidation it takes to dismiss a person completely; I find myself more dismayed than critical. My opinions about violence, war, and guns, however deeply rooted, are predicated upon second-hand knowledge of others’ experience.


April 26, 2018

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

It is easy to dismiss a person as ignorant; it is hard to recognize the ways in which I am still ignorant. My ego retaliates violently against this possibility because it threatens my self-image as a Good Person, the moral superiority that enables me to pity those with whom I disagree from the relative safety of higher ground.

March 08, 2018

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

It was devastating to find how much I enjoy quiet. For a person whose life is consumed by music, it felt like blasphemy. The first time that I sat down to play guitar and nothing came out, I was terrified.

January 26, 2018

Mary Gauthier and the art of writing war.

She’s a queer Opry star and recovering heroin addict turned postwar Virgil. A surrogate of sorts for the new war narrative. “I have done this process on myself for twenty-odd years and ten records, so I know where we’re trying to get.” Mary’s cowriting with veterans isn’t about slogan or ritual.

November 16, 2017

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

My greatest, greatest fear: to be a hobbyist, an artist on the side. I’ve prided myself on being a working artist for my entire adult life, as if it were the very backbone holding me upright. But the artist hustle written on my face isn’t working. 

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.

November 21, 2017

When I was growing up here in the 1980s, the larger world told us we had nothing to be proud of. As Eastern Kentuckians, we knew better. We had our people, our work ethic, and our land. And we had our internationally known musicians: Loretta Lynn, Tom T. Hall, Jean Ritchie, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, many others. In our little corner of Southeastern Kentucky, we had the Phipps Family—lesser known but still a great source of pride for us.

November 21, 2017

A few seconds in, there came this sound. It filled the song and then it filled the room I was listening in. What was that? Like a fiercely shaken box of tacks. Like wind rattling dry leaves on a tree. But not either of those. Comparisons couldn’t capture it.