An essay from the Place Issue When the locals are asked about the island’s history, they talk of pirates and Victorian-era seaside resorts, of fish, oaks, and oleander trees, and of storms and disappearing land. They never talk about surfers. by Kerry Rose Graning | Aug, 2020

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

A Points South essay from the Place Issue When I learned of El Refugio, I made a pledge to visit one day. Five years later, I made good on it. I thought of the stories inside of Stewart like a… by André Gallant | Aug, 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 featured short story from the Summer/Fall 2020 issue. We thought it was the hysterics, him saying over and over again that he couldn’t see, he couldn’t see. Momma was there and rocked over him and prayed the best she… by Halle Hill | 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

Food for thought from the Oxford American

When the pandemic upended our work and personal lives at the Oxford American, we were in various stages of launching a number of new digital initiatives, including a series of themed newsletters written by editors and inspired by our ongoing project of surfacing gems from the magazine’s archive. Now that we’re all spending so much time in the kitchen (and longing to dine with those we love most), we have decided to press on with our newsletter centered on food and cooking.

An essay originally published in the Oxford American’s Spring 2010 Southern Food issue, guest edited by John T. Edge.

I come from a family of cake fundamentalists. No mixes, no faux cream, no margarine, no imitation vanilla, no all-purpose flour. You should use Swans Down or some other cake flour: It’s made of soft winter wheat with a low protein content, which makes the cake finer and airier. If the recipe says fresh coconut, don’t you dare use that stuff in the bag. Suffering for your cake builds character.

A feature essay from the Spring 2020 issue.

I wanted to get away from the noise, but I had nowhere to go. This ended up being a good thing, as I was desperate in writing a story of a religion that was at once immeasurably old while still in its infancy. An unlikely synergy started to form between Felix and me. We were both mixing what raw materials we had. He was throwing coconut shells; I was pounding a keyboard. The noises they produced didn’t sound much different.

A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue.

Prine radiates a sense of well-being, along with a sort of amused nonchalance toward potential disaster. This is a good thing, because the Coupe, as it turns out, has no passenger-side safety belt. Or rather it has the shoulder belt, but the thing on the seat into which it is supposed to latch is missing. I noticed this awhile back, and it worried me for a few minutes. But then I thought, If you’re going to buy the farm it might as well be in a ’77 Coupe de Ville with John Prine.

A Points South essay from the Spring 2020 issue

My father said it seemed like we were due for one of those great hurricanes that periodically wipe the beach clean. If a deadly storm was coming, local legend has it that we would be warned. The story goes that a ghost clad in gray stalks the beach in advance of every major hurricane, warning passersby. Those who heed the Gray Man’s warning are spared, and all those who don’t, perish.

An Omnivore essay from the Spring 2020 issue. 

My preconceived ideas about Frank’s work after reading The Foxes of Harrow made me question what could make a Black man who came of age in Augusta, Georgia, in the 1920s write stories in which Black people were disparaged, or irredeemably victimized, or absent altogether. But in this reverse chronology that I had accidentally undertaken to explore his work—along with what I was learning about him from his letters, his recorded interviews, and his remaining friends and family—I found myself more willing to take a closer look at what his absence from the historical literary conversation really signifies. 

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.

A Points South essay from the Spring 2020 issue

As sea levels rise, there’s more water than ever coming down the Atchafalaya. Shrimp are being pushed offshore, farther into the Gulf, emptying the bayous that Kermit Duck, Douglas Oleander, and their ancestors have fished for generations. On top of that, the water is polluted. On top of that, the shrimpers have to pay for fuel and ice, and they have to pay for a lot more of it when they’re chasing shrimp into the Gulf.

An Omnivore essay from the Spring 2020 issue. 

All kinds of rumors followed Mr. Myers around campus, most of which, it turns out, had some basis in fact: that he was a ferocious tennis player who hated to lose; that he was on his third wife, or maybe it was his fourth; that he’d served in the Marine Corps in World War II and had been the white commanding officer of an all-black unit in the Pacific Theater. But the thing I remember most about Mr. Myers as a teacher had nothing to do with the books we read in his class or the sparse, vague comments I remember him leaving in the margins of papers, at least those he chose to return.

An excerpt from Carter Sickels’s new novel The Prettiest Star.

The killer whales are the most misunderstood of the whales. To begin with, although everyone calls them whales, they’re actually dolphins. For hundreds of years, people believed killer whales were man-eaters. It’s not true. 

A feature essay from the Spring 2020 issue.

I moved to Texas in 2017 and returned often to Dilley. When I would chat with residents—after a city council meeting, at the nail salon, before a cook-off—they’d ask if I was in Dilley to write about how depressing or messed up the place is. Or they’d scoff: I was just another journalist coming to write about the detention center. Or they couldn’t figure out why someone would want to study a town they found so dreadfully boring. In reality, I was struck by how the town is at the crossroads of three industries: oil, confinement, and smuggling. I wondered what it might take to revive a small town like Dilley—and at what cost. I kept sticking around.

When tornado relief efforts intersect with a global pandemic

In my family, the women of generations past—and sometimes present—often found themselves without choices or options, hemmed into lives they could not escape. I recognized them in the pages of Lee’s novels, and I was able to better comprehend their experiences. But I also heard whispers in her chapters, invitations to escape and understand, yes, but also to imagine..