An essay from the Place Issue There was a time when I would have given anything for this quiet space to reflect. As it is, I’m tired of thinking about God, and maybe the reason I can’t figure out how… by Jamie Quatro | Aug, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue I first met Skip James at Dick Waterman’s apartment in Cambridge in the summer of 1965. I sought him out because, quite simply, his music had overwhelmed me: the blues that he… by Peter Guralnick | Oct, 2020

A Points South essay from the Place Issue Not only was I in Tennessee, where racism punctuates our historical narrative, but this was Lawrenceburg, some scant eighteen miles from Pulaski, the Klan’s birthplace. And the Lawrenceburg folks had been some… by Rachel Louise Martin | Aug, 2020

An essay from the Place Issue At almost sixty miles in length, the Chattooga is one of the longest and last free-flowing rivers in the eastern United States, and mile for mile, it covers a steeper vertical drop than the… by Erik Reece | Aug, 2020

An introduction to the Greatest Hits Music Issue How does the South inform my music? How do I describe the sound that your bare feet make when they pat the cool, packed red dust under them? How do I describe… by Brittany Howard | Oct, 2020

A poem from the Place Issue Symptoms include an inability / to admit to oneself, let alone some chimeric / Crip, or Capulet, our deepest fear is not / that we are inherently adversarial. Though, / perhaps, it should be. by Marcus Wicker | Aug, 2020

 A Letter from the Editor, Place Issue. A tiresome stereotype about the American South is that this place is a monolith. Growing up in Arkansas, with the two sides of my family living in different regions of the state, I… by Eliza Borné | Jul, 2020

A feature essay from the Summer/Fall 2020 issue. Most people think of human trafficking as involving sex work, but trafficking occurs across a variety of industries, and migrants are as often coerced by threats of lawsuits and debt bondage as… by Rachel Mabe | Aug, 2020

An Omnivore essay from the Summer/Fall 2020 issue. Photographer Maury Gortemiller explores moments similar to this one in his series Do the Priest in Different Voices. I was startled to find my strange memories of this time reflected within his… by Jason Bruner | Aug, 2020

Leesa Cross-Smith

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and the author of Every Kiss a WarWhiskey & RibbonsSo We Can Glow, and the forthcoming This Close to Okay. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and children.

April 01, 2020

When the Oxford American had to postpone Leesa Cross-Smith’s appearance at our South Words reading series, we asked her to write about her new story collection, So We Can Glow, and record herself reading a story from it.

From “We, Moons”: Where do we go to escape the men who would rape and murder us, the men who would kidnap us, the men who would torture us, the men who would, the men who, the men. We are complete without them but we want them anyway. We love them but we want to hide from them.

December 13, 2018

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

All of the beautiful songs, the incandescent lyrics—poor translations of what we really want to say when we cry or lift our hands or close our eyes and pray. Poor translations for “God, where are you?” and “It’s all going to be okay” and “I need to feel loved right now, will you love me?” We are called to be still and know. We are called to be quiet and know. We are called to listen and know. We are called to learn and do better.

October 18, 2018

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

I listened to “Just Like You” by Keb’ Mo’ over and over again the same way I did when I was working at a coffee shop when I was in college. Keb’ is singing, “I feel just like you and I cry just like you and I heal just like you and I break down just like you,” and I'm wondering if people would actually live their lives differently if they listened to that song every morning before they went out into the world or interacted with other people.

August 16, 2018

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

From the moment I heard the song, the repetition of “more time, more time” got stuck in my head—as I was washing my face at night, as we were driving home, as I was unpacking. I listened to the song over and over again the way I always listen to Justin Vernon’s music, attempting to decode the lyrics and to let his voice ribbon through the quiet spaces.

July 12, 2018

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

In the spring and summer, I make a habit of sitting on our deck in the mornings and as far into the afternoons as the Kentucky sun, heat, humidity, allergies, and mosquitoes allow. I also like to sit up in the treehouse in our yard that my husband built for our children—but he and I love and use it too—with my books and my fizzy strawberry pop.

May 24, 2018

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

Within the span of one month, our children had stood on the front porch of the house that Martin Luther King Jr. was born in and also stood in the parking lot looking up at the balcony where his life was so cruelly snatched from him. Beginnings and endings. Life and death. Happiness and sorrow. Ebb and flow.

April 05, 2018

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

I quickly identified a mockingbird in the branches above us. And it was close, low, singing and calling its tiny bird heart out. I was instantly de-stressed, instantly at ease and felt blessed to be standing so close to the mockingbird at that moment because the song, the calls, the beauty felt like secrets, gifts I shouldn’t ignore.

February 15, 2018

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

I think often of escaping from noise. Wherever I am, I like to sit by windows, doors. I like knowing how to get away when I need to get away.

November 21, 2017

Take Sturgill Simpson. Sturgill (can I call you Sturgill?) is a Kentucky rascal, born in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. Jackson—population around twenty-one hundred. He comes from a family of coal miners. He was in the Navy. He worked on the railroad and played music and sang, and his wife reassured him he was good and should keep doing it. Sturgill Simpson’s first album, High Top Mountain, was self-funded, self-released in 2013, and the first track is “Life Ain’t Fair and the World Is Mean.” In 2017, Sturgill’s first major-label album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, won the Grammy for Best Country Album and was nominated for Album of the Year while being largely ignored by country radio and the country music awards.