As a series of strokes robbed Michael Graff’s dad of his mobility and his mental faculties, Graff looks at what it means to hope and what it means to love, finding them in things that are common and simple, in the clarity of a beautiful lyric, the call of a whip-poor-will, and a last loving embrace.
Before anyone could write a comprehensive discography of golden age gospel recordings, upwards of 75 percent of this uniquely American music got destroyed or lost. Music historian Robert Darden runs the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project to protect and share what’s left.
Scott Korb reflects on his white privilege and the state of Florida and its racist history — a state in which his life was irrevocably changed at age 5, when his father was killed by a drunk driver in May, 1982.
When the United States Narcotic Farm opened in Lexington, Kentucky in 1935, it aimed to rehabilitate drug offenders and equip them for a productive sober life. In the process, it became a place for jazz musicians to take a break and jam together. A Kentucky poet who grew up near the farm reflects on the way she found her own cure.
When writer and scholar Zandria F. Robinson tries to understand what makes “southernness” a distinct quality in music, food, language, or attitudes about race, she realizes that borders and categories are porous.
“I called him Mr. Chuck. We did what families do: We carefully observed the borders of conversational terrain. The election of Obama, no. The best strategy for grilling buffalo burgers, yes.”
Compelled by a dearth of biographical material about novelist Cormac McCarthy, a fellow writer travels to Tennessee to try to sketch a portrait of this reclusive, beguiling author.
Goodbye, Tom Petty. Revisit this chatty, informal, fun interview with the rock legend from Oxford American’s 2000 Southern music issue.
The mayor of Jackson, Mississippi was transforming his city through cooperative economics, to create a model for a new, more equitable society for black Americans. His rallying crying: “Free the land!” His plan: get black progressives into elected office, and empower through independence. Then he died. The plan did not die with him.
Fifty years after New Yorker writer John McPhee published his slender study Oranges, one writer traces McPhee’s story down to Florida to assess the state of American citrus and the peculiar nature of this enduring book.