a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
I’ve always been floored by the mysticism and romanticism of the American Southland. Before I moved to Mississippi, I’d been keenly aware of the magic and monsters that inhabit this complicated space. The writing of literary giants like Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner presents a scene that evades reality for those without southern stakes. More contemporary southern writers have carried on this precarious legacy while imagining a possible future. Writing can only do so much. But writing can contain our complicated past while imagining a tomorrow that leaves us better than we were. Here, in these pages, these southern writers are at the leading edge of southern art and imagination. These words inhabit a very particular landscape and build on the social, political, and cultural trajectories of the great American South. I’m floored by the chops of these writers who evade cheap southern cliché, and rather, complicate what we’ve come to know as the American South. A region is an active thing. At times, the writing stands on the periphery. At other times the writing has two feet firmly planted in southern soil and story. At their best, these lines thrust the reader into an active third dimension and complicate our expectations of the American Southland and what it means to be southern. I find myself drawn to the lasting impressions of these gritty and honest narratives. I find myself connected to the language and the attention to our evolving and magical and monsterful South.
Derrick Harriell is the director of the Master of Fine Arts-Creative Writing Program and assistant professor of English and African-American Studies at the University of Mississippi. He’s the author of three collections of poetry: Cotton (Aquarius Press-Willow Books, 2010), Ropes, (Aquarius Press-Willow Books, 2013), and Stripper in Wonderland (Louisiana State University Press, 2017). His essays and book reviews have been published widely.