This year we’re compiling our “greatest hits,” including selections of the most beloved music writing from our archive—guest edited by Brittany Howard, the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and frontwoman of the Alabama Shakes. This jam-packed issue also includes new essays on iconic Southern artists who have changed the trajectory of American music.
The issue will include a selection of playlists presented by guest contributors that limn the bounty of Southern music across genres.
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A feature from Issue 61, “Best of the South” 2008.
Thick strokes of early-evening crimson smeared across the rolling mountains of Rabun County as I drove up Highway 23 from Atlanta toward Clayton. The whole world looked like it was burning up right behind the horizon line. It was the nine-degree, molar-rattling middle of January in North Georgia, and I was on my way to visit the Chattooga River, fifty-seven miles of fierce backcountry water and etched stone where the film of my father’s first novel, Deliverance, was shot in the summer of 1971.
A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue.
What I want is to love Southern rock without being implicated in the Old South politics. I want progress but I want it surgical. Take secession and Strom Thurmond, take Bob Jones and his university, take the racism and the guy wearing the sandwich board, all bad eye and venom, and leave me the Chattooga River, leave me my grandparents on the porch, leave me the fish fries and Ronnie Milsap and the old man at Open Arms Church who played the dobro so lovingly you swore he was cradling his child.
A Letter from the Editor, Spring 2018.
This issue is packed with other luminaries: Nikki Giovanni, Lolis Eric Elie, and Wendell Berry express the tenderness of our closest relationships. Randall Kenan and Thomas Pierce, contemporary masters of Southern fiction, offer new otherworldly short stories. Lauren Groff pens an essay mourning the depletion of Earth’s resources and ponders the possibilities of the next frontier. As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. King’s death, Benjamin Hedin goes to Memphis, where its citizens—like so many of us in the South—still bear the burden of history: mourning the sins of our racist past; attempting to atone, however imperfectly; and finding a way to move forward.
An introduction to a previously unpublished James Dickey essay, from the 100th issue.
In “The Kingdom of the Other,” an essay adapted from a manuscript titled “Under the Social Surface,” written in the 1950s, Dickey says that our written words, meaning our take on everything from abstractions to the glint of a new pocketknife’s blade, are formed from our memories, those shape-shifting resources that turn into people and forests, train stations and the ruminations of characters. (I was very young—twenty-one—when I took Dickey’s class, and I needed to hear that something inside me could be fascinating to a reader.)
An essay from the Place Issue
At almost sixty miles in length, the Chattooga is one of the longest and last free-flowing rivers in the eastern United States, and mile for mile, it covers a steeper vertical drop than the Colorado River. Yet growing up in nearby Walhalla, South Carolina, Mark admitted he barely knew it was here. Few did until the film version of Deliverance landed in 1972 like a psychic explosion within the collective consciousness of this country.
An Omnivore essay by James Dickey, previously unpublished, from the 100th issue.
The point I would make here is that so much of the mind is just chucked away, discounted, overlooked, junked. The real use of the imagination begins precisely with the recognition that this is happening: the recognition that all one’s inner life matters, from the most habitual modes of thought to the most secret, and the recognition that each of us carries within him his own symbolic drama, never completely understood, but always glowing with the potential of meaning, the meaning of life itself, of our life, of human life as we have known it, each from his own vantage point.
Notes on the manuscript containing James Dickey’s essay “The Kingdom of the Other.”
Dickey was terrified of living an unexamined life, and he employed this technique, the imagining of the Other—the beings and places which were remote from his own biographical self—as a necessity to fuel creation, both in his writing and personal life.