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

Meghan Tear Plummer

Meghan Tear Plummer holds an MFA from the University of Alabama and her prose can be found at Kenyon Review Online and Glamour. She blogs at diswedding.wordpress.com and lives in Johannesburg with her husband.

November 01, 2018

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

I couldn’t tell if my total transparency meant I was improving or that I was becoming completely unmoored, with no understanding of my words’ effects—especially on Luke. I was still so far away from understanding the pain I’d caused him. The nearest I could come was a vague worry that I could no longer experience that empathy.

September 13, 2018

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

“Be careful you’re not romanticizing it,” my husband said a few days later as we talked through the experience. I knew what he meant, but it made me feel lonely that he and I did not agree; I thought this could be the moment when my beliefs allied with a South African’s, but it wasn’t.

July 26, 2018

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

When I arrived, about thirty students—ages six to fifteen—were heavily bundled against the cold and standing on a low, concrete stage built into the side of a small hill in the middle of the playground. They sang happy birthday to Madiba twice before the cameraman was satisfied with their volume.

June 07, 2018

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

Soon I understood that when South Africans asked what I thought about South Africa, they expected me to make big-picture generalizations about my country and theirs, but I was focused on literal scenery—birds and trees and flowers—that did not much matter to them.

April 19, 2018

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

Across two lanes of traffic—an alarmingly short distance—he executed a round-off, back handspring, and back flip. He was so high in the air I could see him over four rows of cars in front of me. The heat shimmered up off the pavement and broken glass around him. He fetched a cup from the curb, and I watched him pass every car window, including my own, without collecting anything. The light turned green.

March 01, 2018

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

Up above, the electric Vodacom sign flashed through its paces of red and white, red and white, tingeing everything with pink light and unnatural shadows. It was strange to be in a place that looked so dystopian but that smelled like something as domestic as kitchen trash.