March 28, 2019

A conversation with Arkansas artist buZ blurr.

“Although my father and his father were railroad men, my maternal grandmother's father was a newspaperman who published weekly in three different cities in northeast Arkansas: at Gainesville, Rector, and Paragould. He learned the printer’s trade by apprenticing with Mark Twain on his brother Orion Clemens’ Hannibal, Missouri, newspaper prior to the Civil War. Thus I claim this as an atavistic trait for my affinity for print.”

March 15, 2018

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

Newly returned to Little Rock, this year I will attempt to catch the Southern vernacular on the air—the sounds that warp my senses and have conditioned me to experience this place in a particular way.

June 21, 2018

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

Going to a gay bar was an expedient, in that presumably most patrons would be available. I hoped that meeting someone would be easier there. I managed two solo voyages to the same gay bar in town, a slick, modern dive where I mostly sat and swiped messages on my phone apps while flirting with the straight bartenders, two ringers planted because of their willingness to be ogled and their very legible masculinity.

August 09, 2018

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

Writing is lonely work—because of the solitude, but also because it does not quiet the mind the way physical toil does. Instead, as I exert myself at my desk, the clamor of my internal voice and thoughts grow more and more voluble. In that restlessness, I’ve begun to survey the landscape, all the possessions my friends have amassed, and I’ve begun to think of my page counts and word counts as flimsy by comparison.

November 15, 2018

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.

September 27, 2018

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

I’ve long struggled with my feelings toward the South End, having never loved the place the way I thought I should. Both my parents rhapsodize about the segregated black communities of their origins. But whereas their tales communicated the wills of their neighbors to persevere, my community seemed intent on trumpeting its hardship.

May 03, 2018

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

I was consciously conquering trials from my personal history, reforming established truths I’d carried for years about my body’s capabilities. I’d begun to think that my aging body was incapable of such discoveries. I had been resigned that the fault lines of my life would remain with me resolutely. And yet.

May 11, 2016

Over the past decade, my parents have made art that reflects the changes they’ve seen in the land and water in the area where I grew up, near the banks of the mineral-blue Little Mulberry River in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas.

April 28, 2017

Listen to Rev. Sekou’s powerful album Times Like These, paired with an essay by the activist artist. 

Mama taught me to read when I was four years old. It was my job to read the mail for Miss Roberta, who could not read but carried a wisdom that I am yet to adequately conceive of. She dipped snuff, walked with a cane, and was indeed royalty, and she loved me. Zent, Arkansas, was a kingdom of dignity. Folks like Miss Roberta tore off the best pieces of themselves and sowed it into a quilt that shields me to this day. If it was not for that covering, I would have long been consumed by rage.

August 08, 2019

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

Over the last three years, Alex and I have spent a total of eight summer nights in the Carlton Marion Inn. It’s a tidy motel with a gravel parking lot and a pool overlooking Crooked Creek Valley. This year, though, there’d be no fun to be had in the pool. Not even any fishing. We didn’t know that yet, but maybe we could feel it. Maybe we were afraid of what was coming, what was already there and would not stop.

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