A Writing on Writing essay from the 100th issue. Pearl taught me to be a loving teller of the truth. This is the basis for my work as a writer and as a human being. If you are a person… by Tayari Jones | Mar, 2018

A Writing on Writing essay from the 100th issue. I found myself in Jones’s writing. Kentucky. Black. Rural. Woman. I was especially taken with how she drew characters from the oral storytelling tradition and then broadened that form into her… by Crystal Wilkinson | Mar, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue. In chronicling the civil rights movement, one inevitably develops an interest in how racial crimes are remembered in the community where they happened—in the way they gradually turn into folklore—and in Memphis,… by Benjamin Hedin | Mar, 2018

A feature short story from the 100th issue. When the real estate agent first drove us up the gravel driveway, I felt I’d been to this place before. I wasn’t sure at first, for I’d first been there at night.… by Randall Kenan | Mar, 2018

A Points South story from the 100th issue. In public, she wore head wraps so tight they gave her headaches. Nevertheless, at some point, the hissing caused people to stop what they were doing and squint all around, in search… by Tania James | Mar, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue.  “For more than three decades this maddening story of Evers’s murder and the question of Beckwith’s guilt or innocence has been told again and again, in conflicting voices and varying contexts, with… by Alan Huffman | Mar, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue. If the earth is wet enough and acidic enough, the first thing you’ll find when you start digging up a grave is a coffin-shaped halo in the ground. That’s the mark left… by Christopher Cox | Mar, 2018

A Points South story from the 100th issue. First off, let me tell you that if you hold a rat snake in your lap and cup your hand around him and let him move along through your cupped hand you… by Clyde Edgerton | Mar, 2018

A feature essay from the 100th issue. From across the broad and whitecapped Indian River, the Kennedy Space Center looks like two tiny Lego sets in the distant vegetation. The palms here are windswept, the oaks are scrubby. Pelicans bob… by Lauren Groff | Mar, 2018

 A Letter from the Editor, Spring 2018. This issue is packed with other luminaries: Nikki Giovanni, Lolis Eric Elie, and Wendell Berry express the tenderness of our closest relationships. Randall Kenan and Thomas Pierce, contemporary masters of Southern fiction, offer… by Eliza Borné | Mar, 2018

Poems from the Spring 2018 issue. One white anemone,the year’s first flower,saves the world. by Wendell Berry | Mar, 2018

David Ramsey

David Ramsey is a contributing editor to the Oxford American. His work has been anthologized in Da Capo Best Music Writing, Best Food Writing, and the Norton Field Guide to Writing. He lives in DeLand, Florida.

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.

September 05, 2017

We both loved Gary Stewart, and we both loved Grace.

My wife Grace’s father was a big man. He wasn’t much more than six feet tall, but I think folks thought of him as taller because he carried himself large. He tried being a hippie once, he said, but couldn’t abide the non-violence (too many people needed to get their asses kicked). At the first job he ever had, on a ranch, he got a business card with his official title: COWBOY. He kept that card. He wore a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. He had the best hunting dogs in Levy County. For a while he ran a sawmill. For a while he was a watermelon farmer, then a beekeeper, then he raised buffalo on the family farm. That’s just a small sampling. His name was John. He went by Chuck. 

February 02, 2017

When CeDell Davis was a boy, his mother told him he would go to hell if he kept on playing the guitar and messing around with the devil’s music. Davis was born in the Delta town of Helena in 1926, and there was no shortage of devilment. A bustling cotton port on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River, Helena was like a Chicago or Memphis in miniature, home to scores of white saloons and black juke joints where bootleggers, gamblers, and hustlers gathered. It was violent and wild and music was everywhere, from the clubs downtown to the street corners by the docks. “Back then, Helena was wide open,” Davis told me. “If you had the money, you could get whatever you want.” 

December 11, 2015

Little Richard, now eighty-two years old, has reportedly been living the last several years in a penthouse suite at the Hilton hotel in downtown Nashville (the Hilton will neither confirm nor deny that they have a guest named Mr. Penniman). I knew someone who knew someone who had his cell phone number, and in June, I cold-called him.

July 01, 2015

From the archive.

Billy Mitchell, the most knowledgeable and masterful Pac-Man player ever to drop a quarter in a machine, is a hard man to find. When I asked one of his best friends, Walter Day, the best way to get in touch with him, Day told me, “First I spend an hour praying to God, then I visit a psychic, then I place a classified ad, then I hire a plane to carry a banner that says CALL ME BILLY! and make it fly all over South Florida. Because he might be anywhere.”

May 25, 2010

“You just have to see” is always good advice in New Orleans, which is how I ended up at the 2007 premiere of Trixie and the Treetrunks, a ten-part puppet telenovela in which Trixie and her pal Marsha try to make sense of a post-apocalyptic world by starting a band to send secret messages from the center of the earth.

June 04, 2014

Though hot chicken is not peculiar to Nashville, the city is uniquely obsessed with the dish.

March 19, 2014

For some of my students, the questions Where are you from?  and Do you listen to Lil Wayne?  were close to interchangeable. Their shared currency—as much as neighborhoods or food or slang or trauma—was the stoned musings of Weezy F. Baby.