In West Virginia, a state where most everything comes at a cost, there are no simple solutions, and in his new story collection, Allegheny Front, Matthew Neill Null does not shy away from the contradictions and complexities that make this region both so troubled and so extraordinary.
A poem from the North Carolina Music Issue.
My burnt body hangs crisscross over Carolina beach dunes below where
family gathers children’s ringing sand splash toys tangled in teenage lust
the skin consciousness potential of everyone eyeing one another
in sunbursted bottoms there is nothing here but the bliss of this day
& so I think on death hanging out over the Atlantic so many dead
“My father was a coal miner for thirty-five years and died of black lung,” Howard told me, while resting from the heat and overhead brushstrokes of the outdoor mural he’s working on for a local food pantry. “When I [told my father] I wanted to study art—well, that wasn’t well received.”
An excerpt from the collection Step Into the Circle: Writers in Modern Appalachia.
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..
An installment in our weekly series, The By and By.