November 20, 2018

A feature essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.

Perverse? Yes. Blasphemous? Maybe. But not irreconcilable. To contemplate the meaning of Jodeci is to grasp at the intersection of religion and excess, of devotion and abandon, of agape and eros—a space where holiness and hedonism coincide. Sacred and erotic poetry, after all, are not dichotomous, but rather the most intimate and ancient of bedfellows, from Sufi mysticism to Ovidian elegy. The meme may be “If the Love Doesn’t Feel Like ’90s R&B I Don’t Want It,” but literary history knows that Jodeci’s ars amatoria continues a millennia-old poetic program that welds the object of affection to something of the divine, a slippage between the beloved and the god, which the poet-scholar L. Lamar Wilson describes as “sacrilegion,” a never-ending hunger for the unattainable object of erotic perfection. 

November 20, 2018

A feature essay from the North Carolina Music issue.

I don’t know if Kenny Mann has ever been in therapy, but I do know that he is exceedingly honest and possesses an uncommon sense of self-awareness. He willingly raises and struggles with difficult issues, like when he volunteered, “There’s an injustice to it but only eight percent of our income comes from African Americans,” and then followed up that insight with, “The number-one worst thing in this industry is racism.” 

“Do you ever feel like you are disrespecting yourself?” I asked Mann after he recounted all the times he’s made jokes at the expense of himself to put white people at ease. 

“Sometimes, but what clown doesn’t?” 

September 04, 2018

A featured short story from the Fall 2018 issue.

Our distant ancestor Harriett Moss made a living painting portraits of dead children. But before her career began in earnest, she sketched only cows. It was her husband, Thomas Moss, who painted from corpses, memorializing deceased sons and daughters for their families. People often said Thomas had the constitution for the work because he and Harriett had not been able to have children of their own. While Thomas traveled the countryside—following up with commissions, measuring cadavers that he would reanimate in two dimensions—Harriett was left alone at their farmhouse.

September 04, 2018

A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue.

One morning in the summer of 1996, Damian Hart was standing naked on a pier in the Aegean Sea. The sun was bearing down on Mount Athos, one of several craggy peninsulas that extend like claws off the coast of northeastern Greece. Hart, an American priest, was a guest at Agiou Pavlou, or St. Paul, one of twenty-odd Greek Orthodox monasteries that occupy the land. For Greek Christians, the peninsula is a holy site, perhaps the holiest in the world.

September 04, 2018

A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue.

I first devoured Robert Gipe’s books and plays because I wanted to understand Appalachia. I was searching for deeper insights than the victim-blaming bootstrap narrative espoused in J. D. Vance’s best-selling book, Hillbilly Elegy—and where else but one of Gipe’s plays would you see convicted felons on a stage, acting right beside probation officers, teachers, and recovery coaches, all of them already bonded in their mutual need to talk about the hard problems around them?

September 04, 2018

A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue.

Why was my great-great-grandfather always referred to as “Robert Singleton, the Civil War veteran who lost his leg at Murfreesboro, then went on to become Clerk of the County Court” rather than “Robert Singleton, whose life was saved, twice, by the black man his family had enslaved”? Moreover, what did all of this say about the America Papa so revered? 

October 08, 2018

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.

June 12, 2018

A short story from the Summer 2018 issue.

Instead of coming to my birthday party, Shelby decided to become a Mormon. Every year since I turned nine it was me, my Nan, and Shelby eating meringue and lighting off snakes and spinners. Then her new church threw her a potluck, and she picked deviled eggs and dip over me. I got so mad I wanted to tell her what I really thought. That she was only getting saved—converted, dunked, brought into the light, whatever—because her dad said he’d pay for BYU. She knew her tips would never cover West Virginia, so she was going along with the God stuff.

June 12, 2018

Poems from the Summer 2018 issue.

How convenient when the brain
starts to glow.  You can help
an injured peacock out of the road
without being pecked to death.

March 13, 2018

A feature short story from the 100th issue. 

Oh, Stephanie, this is not at all what you expected. You’re confused. All of us are, thoroughly. You’ve landed on a new planet and lo and behold it’s populated, incredibly, with other humans. What gives? What are the odds of traveling across the universe and finding people so eerily similar to yourself? Impossible, just about.

Welcome home, sister.

Page 1 of 3