This year we’ve compiled 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.
Rather than including a CD this year, we’ve asked guest contributors to curate a selection of playlists that limn the bounty of Southern music across genres. These are available to stream on Spotify.
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We celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary year by doing what we’ve always done: publish the groundbreaking fiction—three excerpts from Jesmyn Ward’s National Book Award–winning novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing—essays, nonfiction, and poetry our readers have come to expect. Revisit or catch up on these highlights from 2017.
Notes on the songs from our 19th Southern Music Issue CD featuring Kentucky.
This faculty, to be attuned to one’s surroundings and the ways in which they’re unique, to be rooted in the local, to be of a certain place—no matter if one permanently leaves it, like Richard Hell, or stays forever, like Rachel Grimes—is an elemental theme running through the Oxford American’s 19th Southern Music Issue, devoted to Kentucky. It’s manifest in every one of the songs and stories gathered here: the Commonwealth produces a particularly grounded cast of artists, writers, and musicians.
In 2017, we’re featuring the music of Kentucky, highlighting some of the Commonwealth’s most enduring legends and local favorites while celebrating overlooked and lesser known musicians. With contributions from Sturgill Simpson, James Lindsey, Bill Monroe, Julia Perry, King Kong, and Loretta Lynn, this 27-track compilation includes songs from 1927 to the present.
Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Book World editor, Ron Charles, applauded the Oxford American’s Spring 2017 issue (which hits newsstands today) and joined us in celebrating the magazine’s twenty-fifth anniversary. “Here’s to the next 25 years of great writing and striking photography from a tough magazine that refuses to fade away,” Charles writes, labeling the OA a “regional magazine that defies the regional label,” which we take as the highest compliment.
When is the deadline? Your application must be submitted prior to midnight EST on April 8, 2019.
Is there an age limit? No.
Is there an application fee? We ask for a $30 application fee at the time of submission, which will help us cover the administrative costs associated with the prize.
What do you expect from the project description? This document should detail the scope and stage of the manuscript, revealing why this project is deserving of fellowship support. Within this description, we would like to know how the Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writing Fellowship will support your project and your professional goals. Your interests in publishing, the OA’s mission, and/or professional development as an editor may be a factor in selecting the fellow, who will work part-time with the editorial staff during the fellowship period.
When does the Fellowship begin? The Fellowship begins September 3, 2019, and runs until May 29, 2020. The Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writing Fellow is asked to remain in residency in the Little Rock/North Little Rock area during the entire fellowship’s term.
I already have readings scheduled in other cities during the Fellowship’s term. Will I be allowed to go? Professional travel (and necessary personal travel) is supported with time away, once approved. Holidays are also observed according to the Oxford American employee handbook.
Do you provide housing and a stipend? Yes.
How accessible is the Oxford American office? The Oxford American office is an open concept workspace on the second floor, and is fitted with a stair lift, but no elevator. We will provide additional accommodations or an alternative workspace should the Fellow need them, and will work with the fellow to arrange any necessary accommodations once the selection process is complete.
Will I receive the entire $10,000 stipend at once? No. You can expect to receive $1,000 upfront to cover the relocation expenses you will incur in late August and $1,000 at the beginning of every month to cover your basic living expenses while in residency.
Will the Oxford American take taxes out of my stipend? No. You will need to plan ahead to manage your own tax contributions.
Do I need a car? The Little Rock/North Little Rock area has a reasonably good bus system, as well as a trolley system that moves between the downtowns of Little Rock and North Little Rock. The Oxford American office and your apartment will be possible to connect using public transit; however, the area is not walkable. We advise you to bring a car whenever possible.
May I bring a spouse, partner, or child? Yes.
What can I expect for housing? The apartment is clean, well lit, and furnished, with basic utilities (including Wi-Fi) and basic kitchen utensils. At the Oxford American office you will be given a computer with which to work; however, the Fellow will want to bring her or his own personal computer if she or he uses one to write at home.
My spouse/partner is a writer/artist and wants studio space. Will you provide it? No. We will be happy, however, to make available our neighborhood real estate contacts. It is common for our interns to find apartments and studios at affordable prices.
Will you accept a hybrid-genre writing sample for the application? A part of the mission of The Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship is to create a unique level of support for the next generation of great creative nonfiction writers. We define creative nonfiction as broadly as we know how (literary journalism, memoir, reportage, criticism, or the lyric essay), but this fellowship only supports manuscripts written in prose that is rooted in fact.
I am not from the South. Am I still eligible? Yes. We do not require that you be from the South to receive the Fellowship. Many of our most award-winning essays are penned by writers who are not from the South, but who instead carry a unique vantage and an impeccable ethos as they approach “the complexity and vitality” of the South’s story. The Oxford American’s perfect recipient for the Fellowship is an applicant who puts forward the best creative nonfiction writing sample, in terms of literary quality and original vision, while also sharing a commonality with the Oxford American’s mission. However, literary quality is our first criterion in selection.
Do I list my name on my application materials? Yes. We will redact any identifying information before sharing applications with the final judges.
I have already published two books of poems but not a book of nonfiction. Am I still eligible? Yes. The Fellowship supports the writing of a debut book in creative nonfiction, but writers who have published in other genres are still eligible.
I have published a Kindle single in creative nonfiction. Am I still eligible? Yes. Given their length, the Kindle single is considered the digital equivalent of a chapbook, not a full-length book.
I don’t have a home computer. May I submit my application in hardcopy via snail mail? No. Only online submissions are accepted.
The book I want to finish while on Fellowship is under contract. Am I still eligible? Yes. Your proposed project may be represented and/or under contract, but it must be your first book of creative nonfiction.
What can I expect for the editorial fellowship? The Fellow can expect to acquire skills in pitch development, professional editing, literary and arts curation, digital publishing, and the business of running an arts nonprofit and magazine. You will also gain access to the Oxford American’s significant network of literary contacts.
I write in the mornings. Can I expect the apprenticeship hours to flex around my writing needs? Within reason, yes. As long as you reliably contribute approximately 20 hours a week toward your fellowship, we will do whatever we can to accommodate your writing schedule as our priority. We define “approximately 20 hours a week” as a flex schedule that on average equals 20 hours a week but takes into balance the at-deadline needs of both the Fellow and the magazine.
Am I eligible to publish in the Oxford American while I am a Fellow? Yes. We encourage all of our editorial staff to be active contributors to the Oxford American, both in print and online.
I understand the Fellow will contribute to the local community while in residency. What is expected? The Oxford American prioritizes your writing time and your editorial fellowship over any other obligations or invitations; however, we encourage applicants interested in being active members of the Oxford American community. The only social obligations we require you attend during your residency are your start-of-Fellowship welcome party, your ACANSA Arts Festival community workshop, and your end-of-Fellowship reading and dinner.
How are the Fellows selected? The Oxford American editors select from the application pool a shortlist of 5-7 manuscripts for consideration by the final judges. All applications in the shortlist will receive consideration by all three of the final judges. The judges collaborate in jury to select the prize recipient. The final judging process is conducted blindly.
When will I find out if I receive the Fellowship? The recipient will be notified by mid-May and a press release will be published shortly thereafter.
If I am a finalist but not the recipient, will I be announced in the press release? No. The Oxford American will only announce the incoming Fellow.
If I am rejected this year, am I eligible to apply again? As long as you still meet the basic eligibility requirements, you are welcome to apply for as many years as you like.
Writers of any genre are invited to apply. Although the writer may have published books in other genres, the proposed project must be for a debut book of creative nonfiction. The manuscript may, however, be in any stage of development: draft, agency representation, contracted, or not. For the purposes of this fellowship, creative nonfiction is defined as literary journalism, memoir, reportage, criticism, or the lyric essay.
The Oxford American Literary Project is an equal opportunity nonprofit organization committed to empowering voices underserved by the publishing arena; women, writers of color, LGBTQ writers, those living in “fly-over” America, and those with disabilities are encouraged to apply. To be eligible, writers must not be in an academic program and must be willing and able to relocate to the Little Rock/North Little Rock area during the fellowship’s season. The editorial fellow must also have an interest in the making of magazines and be willing to contribute at the Oxford American offices for approximately 20 hours a week as a member of the editorial staff. The Oxford American does not require that the writer or the proposed project have a particular tie to the South; however, applications of equal literary value that align with the Oxford American’s mission will be given preference. Please visit our F.A.Q. for further information on eligibility.
Complete applications will include copies of the following: a 750–1000-word project description that includes a statement of interest in the fellowship; a creative nonfiction writing sample of no more than 12,000 words excerpted from the proposed project; and a curriculum vitae. The project description should include details of the manuscript’s scope and stage, and should detail how this fellowship will benefit the project/writer; the vitae should prioritize the writer’s previous publications and awards, as well as any previous editorial experience. Final judges will be given redacted applications to review applicants blindly and will have access to curriculum vitae; however, the judges retain the right to consider vitae at their own discretion. Judges also reserve the right to not select a fellow in any given year, depending on work sample quality.
Submissions for the Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship will be accepted via Submittable. Only online submissions will be considered. Documents should be attached as three separate .PDFs.
In addition to his most recent work, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the novels The Illumination, The Brief History of the Dead, and The Truth About Celia; the story collections Things That Fall from the Sky and The View from the Seventh Layer; and the children’s novels City of Names and Grooves: A Kind of Mystery. He has published his stories in such venues as the New Yorker, the Georgia Review, McSweeney’s, Zoetrope, Tin House, the Oxford American, the Best American Short Stories, the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and New Stories from the South. He has received the Borders Original Voices Award, three O. Henry Awards (one, a first prize), the PEN USA Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an NEA Grant. In 2007, he was named one of Granta magazine’s Best Young American Novelists. He teaches frequently at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and he lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was raised.
Michelle García is an essayist and current Soros Equality Fellow. She is working on a nonfiction book about borders and their powerful influence on U.S. identity, politics, and culture of violence. She is the former Texas correspondent for theColumbia Journalism Reviewand a former columnist for theTexas Observer. Her work has appeared in theOxford American, Guernica, the New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, the Atlantic’s Quartz, Insight Crime, NACLA, Christian Science Monitor, Salon, The Nation, and Al Jazeera America,among others. She has been featured in Nieman Storyboard, Longreads and Vela. In 2014, she was awarded a grant from the Nation Investigative Fund to report on the dangers faced by journalists in Mexico. Her public radio documentaries include investigations into the spread of HIV/AIDS on the U.S.-Mexico border, women and violence in El Salvador, and labor abuses in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.
Jamie Quatro’s debut novel, Fire Sermon, published in 2018 with Grove Press. The novel is an Indie Next pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was recently named a Book of the Year in the Economist. Quatro’s debut collection, I Want To Show You More, was a New York Times Notable Book, an NPR Best Book of 2013, and was chosen as a favorite book of 2013 by James Wood in the New Yorker. A contributing editor at the Oxford American, Quatro’s work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, VQR, Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere.
Over the past 27 years, the Oxford American, a quarterly magazine dedicated to documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South, has helped launch and sustain the careers of many significant writers of literary journalism, memoir, reportage, criticism, and the lyric essay. Since 1992, the magazine has published original nonfiction work by such powerhouses as Z.Z. Packer, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Alex Mar, Leslie Jamison, Kiese Laymon, John T. Edge, Jesmyn Ward, Barry Hannah, Wendell Berry, Michelle García, Roy Blount Jr., Stephanie Elizondo Griest, John Updike, and many others, while also routinely publishing emerging writers. The Oxford American, along with its contributors, has received numerous awards, including the 2016 National Magazine Award in General Excellence.
Jeff Baskin, a librarian by trade, was a lifelong and generous literary citizen. His imaginative approach to his work and his programming innovations brought reading and writing to countless in the North Little Rock community. In 2010, he initiated the Laman Library Writers Fellowship, an annual award that honored Arkansas writers. Past fellows included Grif Stockley, Kevin Brockmeier, Mara Leveritt, Davis McCombs, and Hope Coulter. In partnership with ACANSA Arts Festival, the Oxford American is proud to reinvigorate and expand this legacy to serve writers of creative nonfiction nationally.
n 2017, the Oxford American Literary Project launched the Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellowship. Designed to support the writing of a debut book of creative nonfiction, the fellowship offers the winner a $10,000 living stipend, housing, and an editorial apprenticeship with the Oxford American toward a nine-month residency.
The fellowship is funded with support from Argenta Wealth Management, ACANSA, Argenta Arts Foundation, Tenenbaum Recycling Group, Argenta Flats Apartments, and Salter Properties.
We are proud to share that Micah Fields, a 2018 graduate of the MFA in nonfiction writing program at the University of Iowa, is the recipient of this year’s fellowship. Fields will spend his fellowship working on a manuscript titled We Hold Our Breath. In his proposal, Fields wrote: “My proposed manuscript . . . is a book of narrative nonfiction about the singular city of Houston, the Texas Gulf Coast, and the wild relationship between thatregion’s history of art, industry, and natural disaster. We Hold Our Breath deals with the space and time between two nearly identical storms—Hurricane Carla (1961) and Hurricane Harvey (2017)—using the story of their impact to inform the contemporary understanding of a region and its cultural significance.”
Award-winning writers and OA contributors Alex Mar, Zandria F. Robinson, and Timothy B. Tyson selected Fields after a blind judging process. Robinson praised Fields’s work sample in the following citation: “Micah Fields’s manuscript We Hold Our Breath quite breathlessly blends the rural and urban, past and present, and industrial and postmodern Souths in an artful Texas tale of humans and other animals working with and against land and nature on that state’s coast and in its most populous city.”
Fields’s fellowship in Central Arkansas will run from August 2018 until May 2019. The inaugural Baskin Fellow, Molly McCully Brown, concluded her fellowship in May 2018. Her essay “The Cost of Certainty” was published in the OA’s 100th issue. She is the recipient of the 2018-2019 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship.