A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue Much of what they’d tell me next was legend—tall tales, rumors, exaggerations. Perry Martin adopted an orphan girl he found on the riverside, raised her up as his own, paid her… by Boyce Upholt | Jun, 2019

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

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue.  He began the letter by asking Larry to cremate him and scatter his ashes next to his second wife’s ashes at Johnson Beach in Perdido Key, Florida, “approximately 75 yards from end… by Britta Lokting | Jun, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue.  Lenny did all he could to hang around it over the next couple of years, cleaning lines, fetching balls, brushing the clay to maintain a smooth surface. Eventually, after cocktail hour ended… by Shaun Assael | Jun, 2019

Mike Frolich’s artistic legacy in the Saturn Bar One of my many justifications for keeping the devil was Frolich’s claim that his paintings were created in part for the children of the Ninth Ward, more of whom run through our… by Anne Gisleson | 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 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 featured short story from the Summer 2019 issue. Mother had no shortage of repulsive qualities, but the most disturbing was her laugh. Otherworldly. Piercing. A stranger would fall on the ice or a double-crossing cop would get his comeuppance… by Graham Gordy | Jun, 2019

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

Winding through these towns, behind buildings and homes, across fields—I am struck by the train’s intimate perspective. The very idea that I was looking into people's backyards felt voyeuristic; I could not avert my eyes. The fields seemed close enough to touch as we plowed through. I could almost feel the wind, the tall stalks of grass.

This liner note was originally published in Oxford Americans 5th Annual Music Issue in 2001, accompanying the track “Down to the Well” on the sampler. 

I’ve written poetry since I was fifteen; songwriting started when I began playing guitar three years later. Both have been good ways to talk to the dead or to say things to the living that would be too difficult or dangerous at close range.

Photographer Matthew J. Brown’s project, New Developments, investigates the fluctuating story of land use in his home state of Tennessee, where agricultural regions have gradually given way to instances of retail and commercial real estate.

A poem from the North Carolina Music Issue.

It’s not what you think, not a back-tease aerosol of a band 
head-banging to a half-cracked amp nor the flame-decal of a beater 
revving the gravel lot out back, hungry for a big-tiddied girl to stumble
out cork high and bottle deep. 

Track 1 – “Lights in the Valley” (Live) by Joe & Odell Thompson 

They were part of a dying tradition: musicians from the community playing functional music for social dances, not to make a living but because that’s simply what they did. They were also among the last living links to a vast black string band tradition that used to be spread all over the South and other parts of the U.S. but had slowly disappeared until very few were left. And they were swallowed up by the wider societal notion that fiddle and banjo music was strictly a white preserve. 

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.

The songs I heard growing up, sung at family gatherings, and later as I documented music in recordings at Lumbee churches, ring with longing and sometimes nostalgia. They were standard Protestant hymns, Southern gospel tunes, or shape-note classics, straight from the Broadman hymnal or from J. D. Sumner or the Gaither family: “I Feel Like Traveling Home,” “Hard Working Pilgrim,” “I Am His,” dozens more. The talented ones in my family often learned them not by reading the music but playing by ear, molding and adapting the arrangement and harmonies to suit our preference. Not so much the songs themselves, but the way we sing, especially the emphasis on harmony and blend—the need for every person to have a part but no one to stand out—is what demonstrates our togetherness and uniqueness. 

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

Willie grew up right here, on the Westside, el Hueso. The bone of San Antonio. We call it the barrio.

Lately, people have been getting these letters, and they bring them to me. I don’t know why, only that Willie died 30 years ago this year, 2018. Something about he’s stepping up, moving on, and now he’s finding himself. Not lost anymore, no way. Has things he wants to get off his chest. Knows the way home to you now.

This is his story.

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.

As deeply in love as I was with blaring guitars, exploding amps, and metallic raving, I’d also been listening to James Taylor’s more intimate style of music since his first album, James Taylor, came out in 1969, issued by Apple Records, the Beatles’ label. I owned a prized 45 of the original (and still my favorite) version of “Carolina in My Mind,” the song on which Paul McCartney and George Harrison (“the holy host of others standing ’round”) played bass and sang harmony. “I was homesick when I wrote it,” Taylor has said of the tune that he composed in London. That number made even us sixth-graders at Glenwood Elementary indulge in a kind of premature nostalgia. Kids we might have been, but we too could hear the “highway call”; we too could see those “geese in flight and dogs that bite.” The lyrics and melody induced in us an aching yet pleasurable homesickness for the place from which we hadn’t yet departed. 

In a combination of materials—from municipal maps, to snapshots of demolition, to juxtaposed scenes of overpasses and children at play—Warwick aims to portray the challenging legacy of Old South Baton Rouge, while gesturing toward the strength and promise of its contemporary residents.

An installment in John T. Edge’s Points South column, Local Fare.

Time at Helen’s raises questions, small and large. Other than great barbecue, and my respect and affection for the woman who owns the restaurant, what calls me to Brownsville? And, more broadly, what drives middle-class Southerners to seek pleasure and solace in places often referred to as joints and shacks?

Greensboro and the Piedmont have become home to a wide array of artists—white, African American, Asian American, Montagnard, Latin American, Haliwa-Saponi, and more—who maintain artistic traditions that are an integral part of the fabric of North Carolina culture.

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

Twice during my visit, I listened to friends say over meals how much they genuinely loved the city. Both times, I immediately thought, Why? Living in New York as an aspiring writer had been hard—isolating and vicious. There had been casualties—relationships I’d leaned on until they broke or some that I’d neglected or cast aside. There had been fresh ideas or lines of inquiry that I’d shunned, in order to cling to diminishing prospects I’d hoped to turn into some type of currency—money, acclaim, respect. Where the city had once seemed a place of limitless potential, I’d become a kind of hermit—buffering myself against perspectives, change, the passage of time—unable to keep up.