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

Katy Simpson Smith

Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and the novels The Story of Land and Sea and Free Men. Her novel The Everlasting is forthcoming in March 2020. She is currently serving as the Eudora Welty Chair for Southern Literature at Millsaps College.
December 19, 2019

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

Though we already had two hundred miles under our belts, that morning felt like the first real leg, the leg with daylight and sights, with the fresh feeling of a Prius on an open road: snacks uneaten, podcasts not yet listened to, the journey still limitless. Of course, as experienced readers know, travel hubris is a dangerous thing.

October 23, 2019

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

Below the quilt is a daybed where I would lie as a child when I was sick or restless, or just wanted my mother’s company as she worked. The lower reaches of the menagerie have become as familiar as my hand. The cricket—that cricket. Satin-stitched thorax and abdomen in brown thread on an ivory field, with legs and antennae spronging out in stem stitch. Who asked for the cricket? Was it a child? 

September 05, 2019

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

Church steeples still lay on the ground, blue tarps turned homes into extensions of the sea. A human’s arms cannot encompass that loss. We make small boxes instead; we attempt to foil fate, we laugh, and we wait.

July 11, 2019

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

She’s an 1897 Steinway Model A, with flowerpot legs and a music stand that rises from the keys in a tangle of filigreed wood. When I first arrived, we glanced at each other across the room for a while, me with idle hands, her with tantalizing hinges. I couldn’t resist. I hoisted open the heavy lid.

May 23, 2019

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

We compliment his lovely plumage. “Color doesn’t matter,” Laurel says, even though this is the only quality that strikes a newcomer at all—how pretty that dusty gray one is! What a fine burgundy comb! Foolish are the uninitiated.

 

April 03, 2019

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

Looking for souvenirs to take back to your lovers, to prove you thought about them once in the midst of heat, toil, and hardly thinking about them at all? I recommend rebar. I recommend marbles. I recommend shards of shingles, nineteenth-century medicine bottles, forks, mountains of old bricks hoisted from the dirt, as if a whole other city had been built beneath this grass and sodded over. Keep your prize finds, a shelf of rust and porcelain and plastic, as if an archaeologist might one day stop by. 

 

June 12, 2015

In the middle of downtown Jackson stands a triangle of statues carved in rough-hewn stone, their backs to each other, facing out toward the city: William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Eudora Welty. But Faulkner doesn’t belong, and in his place should be Margaret Walker. Wright, Welty, Walker: those are our Jacksonians, the old guard, the outsiders of gender and race and class whose stony shoulders we stand upon.