May 06, 2020

An essay originally published in the Oxford American’s Spring 2010 Southern Food issue, guest edited by John T. Edge.

On making “hit” chocolate in Nashville.

August 25, 2020

A Points South essay from the Place Issue

When I learned of El Refugio, I made a pledge to visit one day. Five years later, I made good on it. I thought of the stories inside of Stewart like a sorrowful pile, mostly forgotten or never thought about in the first place by anyone on the outside. But each story deserved to be singled out and held up to the light and examined. Each became a galaxy upon inspection.

September 05, 2017

I wake from a dream in which I am back at military training, among the classrooms and the clash of Claymores, the hot wake of wind from the report of rifles. Booted feet echo through the hallways, and forced voices call cadence while the light bends in the shockwave of bombs.

March 19, 2019

A Points South essay from the Spring 2019 issue

Daleel is three years old, which is around eight human years. While we walk, he is distracted by any and all sources of food, which in this desert is a surprising amount; mesquite beans, prickly pear, ocotillo, and creosote—all barbed and injurious to a human touch, but the lining of Daleel’s lips is impervious. 

June 11, 2019

A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue

I have wanted to visit this house for years. Like many North Carolina kids, I grew up with the broad strokes of Thomas Wolfe’s story, the prolific, small-town genius who became one of the most revered writers of his generation. I lived in North Carolina for most of my life, but I never took the opportunity to visit. Not enough money, not enough time, too much to do: that’s an old story, I know, and a true one. It is also true that we seldom value the places where we live, not enough anyway.

September 03, 2019

A Points South essay from the Fall 2019 issue

A wolf suit. A boy suit. The belly button memory of a mama tether. An odd stone to mark the buried time capsule of your before body. Did your husband wince when it was time to cut the cord? Did you do it yourself, scissors in your weak hand, slick with blood? Was it easy to split, to be so undone? When you shift now in the night, does your hand find your belly, that soft ridgeline from sternum to navel? Does it feel like quicksand, your mother costume, and does it suit you? 

March 17, 2020

A Points South essay from the Spring 2020 issue

The longer I spent with members, I began to see that in some deep unconscious way, this is what drew me to the Juancun community, and perhaps what drew my parents to them, too. Chinese people who were not Chinese, in any easy definition of the term, who seemed defined entirely by what they had lost. It intrigued me that they had made a home in the South, a place that represented an additional loss I had not been able to bring myself to continually bear, dreaming every day of New York City, until I could and finally did leave. I wanted to know how, unlike me, they could stand to stay. 

August 25, 2020

A Points South essay from the Place Issue

Not only was I in Tennessee, where racism punctuates our historical narrative, but this was Lawrenceburg, some scant eighteen miles from Pulaski, the Klan’s birthplace. And the Lawrenceburg folks had been some of the first to join in terrorizing African Americans, carpetbaggers, and scalawags. Still, sitting in the Crockett Theater on a prickly velvet seat surrounded by 1,049 Southern gospel quartet fans, I thought the Klan would stay safely out of this essay.

November 10, 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 in the light. 

March 19, 2019

A Points South essay from the Spring 2019 issue

Like many other locals, I had never valued the glades. I had never learned to see past the scraggly trees and the rocky fields. A chance Google search one day told me about the wildflowers, these endemic species that carpet the barrens and are found nowhere else in the world. I started hiking the Flat Rock State Natural Area. I dove into deed research, seeking to know more about the people who used to carve a living out of the limestone.