A Writing on Writing essay from the 100th issue. I keep a photograph on my desk that I printed from the internet. It is a candid snapshot, taken at the end of a gathering of black women. It must be… by Jamey Hatley | Mar, 2018

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue.  I’d often thought of going to Cuba, but in the summer of 2017 I was nearing the end of the first draft of the novel, and it became clear I needed to… by Lucas Loredo | Jun, 2018

An installment in Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris.  Consumption of worms is widespread throughout the world among many disparate cultures, particularly in Canada. (The French confine themselves to eating snails.) This tradition extends to contemporary America, especially with children.… by Chris Offutt | Jun, 2018

A Points South story from the Summer 2018 issue One summer during an electrical storm, Mama Rubie turned off the power in her house and we huddled on the stairs until the weather calmed. One day this will be yours,… by Renee Simms | Jun, 2018

An Omnivore essay by James Dickey, previously unpublished, from the 100th issue. The point I would make here is that so much of the mind is just chucked away, discounted, overlooked, junked. The real use of the imagination begins precisely… by James Dickey | Mar, 2018

An Omnivore essay from the 100th issue.  In the coming skirmishes over the legitimacy of color photography, the image would take on a great symbolic significance. This minor, inexplicable moment—in which a photographer had pondered a light bulb in the… by Will Stephenson | Mar, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue.  New Orleans loves to celebrate and romanticize its French and Spanish influences. But so much of the city’s culture—the food, the music, the dance, Mardi Gras itself—is indebted to the Caribbean. New… by Laine Kaplan-Levenson | Mar, 2018

 A Letter from the Editor, Summer 2018. Sometimes we go on journeys just for fun, and sometimes we go because we have to, even when it’s hard. In our third annual Southern Journeys summer feature, five writers travel far and… by Eliza Borné | Jun, 2018

A poem from the Spring 2018 issue. I know we are happy To hold them in our arms      Watching  Them squizzle by Nikki Giovanni | Mar, 2018

Amanda Petrusich

Amanda Petrusich is a contributing editor to the Oxford American and the author of three books about music, including Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records. She is a staff writer at the New Yorker and a professor of writing at New York University. 

November 21, 2017

That Hell was born and raised not in some dark and edgy urban enclave but in the rolling hills of Lexington, Kentucky, can feel incongruous. It’s too soft, where he comes from—too genteel. Yet having emerged from a region Hell considers a Nowhere—not in the ugly or pejorative sense, but in the empty sense, a place that was just like any other place, a blank place—allowed for wild self-creation later on. These are ideas that repeat for Hell: blankness, voids. He is someone who understands how to make something from nothing.

January 25, 2017

Ethnomusicologists have continued to do necessary and significant research, both in the field and beyond, but it’s difficult to muster up a modern analogue for Lomax. No other single figure is as invested in the American musical canon, or as influential. In part that’s the result of a global shift towards self-mythologizing: we all maniacally catalogue and broadcast our lives now, ensuring our legacies to both transcendent and humiliating ends. Who needs Lomax when we have YouTube?

January 06, 2017

I couldn’t quite figure out why Japanese listeners had come to appreciate and savor the blues in the way that they seemed to—lavishly, devotedly. Blues is still an outlier genre in Japan, but it’s revered, topical, present.

January 12, 2016

I had this idea that I could arrive in Macon, Georgia, via rental sedan, nose around for a day or two, and figure something out about the South, and rock music in the South, and men in the South, and men, and death, and guitars, and the Allman Brothers Band, who, in the late 1960s, engineered a new style of rock music that was deeply and earnestly influenced by rhythm & blues but also by something else—some wildness I couldn’t isolate or define or deny.

December 01, 2013
There is a remarkable story tucked halfway through Bessie, Chris Albertson’s biography of the blues singer Bessie Smith, in which Smith approaches a circle of robed North Carolina Klansmen, places one hand on her hip, and begins shaking the other in the air. She hollers obscenities at the men until “they finally turned and disappeared quietly into the darkness.” This is the sort of tale that stinks of apocrypha, but is nonetheless a useful encapsulation of Smith’s particular prowess: shouting darkness into darkness.
December 01, 2014

By early summer, Houston is so muggy that all the edges blur. Temperatures slink into the low 90s and stay there. In certain neighborhoods, the smell of weed lingers, lending the air a permanent tang. Slabs, creeping slowly down the street, broadcast a sound indigenous to the city, a sluggish hazy rhythm that couldn’t have been born in any other town.

September 09, 2014

"It’s exceptionally difficult to talk about Haw—the newest record from Hiss Golden Messenger, the songwriting alias of M. C. Taylor—without talking about death, and Sunday morning seemed like as good a time as any for Taylor and me to get into it. We were seated outside at Durham’s Geer Street Garden, and in between forkfuls of grits I was trying to tell him about an interview I’d read with the Sri Lankan monk Bhante Gunaratana, in which Gunaratana suggested that death is constant, omnipresent."

November 28, 2012

Between 1929 and 1934, Amédé Ardoin recorded seventeen two-sided 78-rpm records, all of which Christopher King has gathered, studied, and sequenced over two compact discs. Why is Ardoin so important to King? “I just naturally, intensely, obsessively gravitate toward music that is emotionally unhinged.”

May 23, 2013

An installment of "Against Authenticity," an OA symposium.

July 06, 2014

Watching Bussard listen to records is a spiritually rousing experience. He often appears incapable of physically restraining himself, as if the melody were a call to arms, an incitement it would be immoral if not impossible to ignore: he has to move.