Originally published in our Tennessee Music Issue  There is a remarkable story tucked halfway through Bessie, Chris Albertson’s biography of the blues singer Bessie Smith, in which Smith approaches a circle of robed North Carolina Klansmen, places one hand on her hip,… by Amanda Petrusich | Nov, 2020

Playlists curated by your favorite musicians and writers. by Brittany Howard, Kiese Laymon, Rosanne Cash, Kelsey Waldon, & others | Nov, 2020

An introduction to the Music Issue’s Icons Section Beyond my eye, beyond the death and decay of matters left behind and unsettled, the music ringing up above my head told a thousand stories of bounty and belonging, and it glimmered… by Danielle A. Jackson | Nov, 2020

Originally published in our 2007 Music Issue  In a remarkable 1963 appearance with Juilliard professor and friend, Hall Overton, at the New School in New York, Monk demonstrated his technique of “bending” or “curving” notes on the piano, the most… by Sam Stephenson | Nov, 2020

Originally published in our North Carolina Music Issue.  I wanted to start with the wild weeds and the creaking wood on the front porch, walking up to Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina. I wanted to start where… by Tiana Clark | Nov, 2020

An essay from the Greatest Hits Music Issue The first songs that I listened to by Talibah Safiya had this soft, sweet, plaintive quality. There is something else underneath if you listen a bit closer: a little loneliness. The knowledge… by Jamey Hatley | Nov, 2020

An introduction to the Greatest Hits Music Issue How does the South inform my music? How do I describe the sound that your bare feet make when they pat the cool, packed red dust under them? How do I describe… by Brittany Howard | Oct, 2020

 A Letter from the Editor, Food Issue. Quiet as it is kept, and widely as it has become forgotten, those who do the cooking and the farming know that those who only eat what is cooked for them and served… by Alice Randall | Mar, 2021

June 13, 2017

 A Letter from the Editor, Summer 2017.

For the second year in a row, our summer issue contains a special section of Southern Journeys. In typical Oxford American fashion, these five journeys aren’t your average trip itineraries or travel guides, though we hope they’ll encourage hunger for exploration: physically, intellectually, even spiritually.

March 19, 2019

 A Letter from the Editor, Spring 2019.

Though I don’t believe new parents must be homebound, another truth of my current season is that my movements are mostly limited to house and office and places in between. So more than ever in my life, I am compelled to travel via stories. It’s been a pleasure to join the perceptive, intelligent guides who contributed to this issue. 

June 11, 2019

 A Letter from the Editor, Summer 2019.

At the Oxford American, we receive many pitches for stories in the category of “pilgrimages,” or “literary road trips,” or “retracing X’s steps.” I understand the appeal: the traveler can see with her own eyes what inspired her heroes, place a work of art or literature in its proper context, imagine an artist’s life were he still living today.

 

September 03, 2019

 A Letter from the Editor, Fall 2019.

As a nonprofit, independent publication, the OA exists in an undefined space between literary journal and glossy general-interest magazine. We can embrace the best of both traditions as we see fit: publishing multi-page poems and longform reportage, fine artwork and photojournalism.

 

March 17, 2020

 A Letter from the Editor, Spring 2020.

Over the years, I have come to admire a certain kind of story that the Oxford American, as a quarterly magazine untethered from the demands of a rapid news cycle, is especially well suited to publish. With love, I call it the “OA special,” though “passion project” works just as well: stories that writers have been chasing for years, often to the point of obsession, hooked by a question or a place or a character.

July 31, 2020

 A Letter from the Editor, Place Issue.

A tiresome stereotype about the American South is that this place is a monolith. Growing up in Arkansas, with the two sides of my family living in different regions of the state, I learned instinctually how wrong that view is. 

March 01, 2021

 A Letter from the Editor, Food Issue.

Quiet as it is kept, and widely as it has become forgotten, those who do the cooking and the farming know that those who only eat what is cooked for them and served to them never eat as well, measured by flavor on the tongue or justice in the world, as those who sample straight from the pot with a clean tasting spoon.

February 23, 2017

Editor’s Letter, Spring 2017

Our charge is to share important, moving stories with you, our readers, from a region that is still oft-overlooked and maligned. That a scrappy nonprofit magazine is thriving after twenty-five years is cause for celebration.

September 05, 2017

 A Letter from the Editor, Fall 2017.

It is an ongoing project: reckoning with our past, making the South a better place to live and dream and learn and work.

September 04, 2018

 A Letter from the Editor, Fall 2018.

I was struck by a phrase written by Jelani Cobb for the New Yorker, which characterized our former president as “a man who grasps history as the living context of our lives.” This is a seemingly obvious principle, perhaps one many of us learned in grade-school social studies. It’s a theme President Obama has returned to throughout his years in public life. During his 2008 “race speech,” he memorably invoked Faulkner’s famous line: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It’s a theme that resonates across this issue. 

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