a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Lynchburg, Virginia, where I’ve lived since 1986, embodies much of the complexity of the South: the pain, the beauty, the poverty, the hospitality, the racism, the religious fervor, the emerging alternative voices. This city of hills and ravines and church steeples, framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the James River, is named for Quaker ferryman John Lynch, not the act of lynching, though in Riverside Park, a few blocks from where I teach, cherry trees bloom over the grassy outline of the city pool that was filled in to protest desegregation. Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer’s house and garden shine as a museum in the federally recognized Pierce Street Historic District; Ota Benga’s remains are lost in a now unmarked grave in the city limits. These are just a few local examples of the larger tangled, teeming history, culture, and environment of the South. The writers and artists in this issue of About Place explore that tangle brilliantly with compelling language, stories, images. They reveal new facets of the region and challenge old assumptions and mythos with fresh perspectives. It has been an honor, with Derrick Harriell, to assist Ann Fisher-Wirth in bringing this powerful body of work on the South to light.
Laura-Gray Street is the author of Pigment and Fume (Salmon Poetry) and Shift Work (forthcoming from Red Bird Chapbooks), and co-editor with Ann Fisher-Wirth of The Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity University Press). Street’s work has appeared in The Colorado Review, Poet Lore, ISLE, Blackbird, and elsewhere; received poetry prizes from The Greensboro Review, the Dana Awards, the Southern Women Writers Conference, Isotope: A Journal of Literary Science and Nature Writing, and Terrain.org; and been supported by fellowships from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Artist House at St. Mary’s College in Maryland, and the Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences. She is an associate professor of English and directs the Creative Writing Program at Randolph College* in Lynchburg, Virginia. www.lauragraystreet.com
*founded in 1891 as Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.