Gods, Generals, and Shelby Foote

It’s the birthday of American novelist and historian Shelby Foote

(books by this author), born in Greenville, Mississippi (1916). He had already published several novels, including Tournament (1949), Follow Me Down (1950), and Love in a Dry Season (1951), when in 1952, an editor asked Foote if he would try writing a narrative history of the Civil War. Foote said he thought it would take about four years, but it wound up taking two decades, and the result was three volumes, more than 1.6 million words and almost 3,000 pages long when published. Foote later compared the project to swallowing a cannonball.

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betweenthecovers.com

Near the end of the third volume, Foote wrote a letter to his best friend, the novelist Walker Percy: “Dear Walker, I killed Lincoln last week. Saturday, at noon. While I was doing it — he had his chest arched up holding his last breath to let it out — some […] doctor came to the door with volumes 1 and 2 under his arm, wanting me to autograph them for his son for Christmas. I was in such a state of shock, I not only let him in, I even signed the […] books, a thing I seldom do. Then I turned back and killed [Lincoln] and had Stanton say, ‘Now he belongs to the ages.’ A strange feeling though. I have another seventy-odd pages to go, and I have a feeling it’ll be like Hamlet with Hamlet left out.”

Shelby Foote was one of the only writers so old-fashioned that he wrote all his books with an antique pen that had to be dipped in ink after every three or four words.

https://gardenandgun.com/articles/shelby-footes-war-story/

The last novel he published was September, September (1978). Foote spent the final 25 years of his life working on an epic novel about Mississippi, called Two Gates to the City. It remained unfinished when he died in 2006. Shelby Foote said, “A writer’s like anybody else except when he’s writing.”
https://www.garrisonkeillor.com/radio/twa-the-writers-almanac-for-november-17-2021/

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthefederalist.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F11%2Fcivil_war.jpg&f=1&nofb=1
https://thefederalist.com/2017/11/02/shelby-footes-civil-war-history-defends-america-insatiable-haters-like-ta-nehisi-coates/

John Daniel Davidson wrote: “Foote is, of course, the author of his own celebrated Civil War masterpiece, a three-volume narrative history of the war, each about a thousand pages long, that stands as a triumph of American history and literature.” (https://thefederalist.com/2017/11/02/shelby-footes-civil-war-history-defends-america-insatiable-haters-like-ta-nehisi-coates/)

Over the decades I have recommended, and will continue to recommend anyone interested in what I have come to think of as the “War of Northern Aggression” begin their journey toward understanding by reading the the Civil War trilogy by Mr. Foote. For some readers, maybe most, the three books will be all you need to know about the conflict. For others the books will set the stage for all the other books to come, because they are magnificently written by one of the best writer’s produced by America.

When it comes to Shelby Foote historians have had a field day. An example would be: Shelby Foote Was Wrong! By Dick Crews of the The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, Copyright © 2014. (https://www.clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/shelby-foote-was-wrong/)

This elicited the response: A Rebuttal to “Shelby Foote Was Wrong!” By Greg Biggs, President, Clarksville TN CWRT of The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, Copyright © 2014. (https://www.clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/a-rebuttal-to-shelby-foote-was-wrong/)

It has been my experience that one cannot discuss the Civil War (about which Shelby Foote famously said, “There was nothing civil about that war.”) objectively because after over a century and a half passions still run deep. Then there is the fact that most Americans know very little about the War of Northern Aggression. If one becomes interested enough to read further than what is taught in school then you will usually read a hagiography. For instance, during a Civil War Roundtable discussion in Louisville, Kentucky, at a Barnes & Noble Bookstore after this book had been published, and read:

https://booklife-resized.s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/e4114aed9739662641bca1f535e72cab-w204@1x.jpg
Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln! America’s Second Gay …
queerreader.com

I discussed some of what was included and one older, unfortunate Lincoln apologist stood up with a red face and fire in his eyes, said, “HOW DARE YOU!” before falling onto the floor. He was taken to the hospital as soon as an ambulance arrived. We later learned he survived…

Kentucky was a conflicted state before, during, and after the War of Northern Aggression. During the WONA Lincoln famously said, probably to anyone who listened

https://xpertchesslessons.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/0b653-ihopetohavegodonmyside2cbutimusthavekentucky-abrahamlincoln.png

My knowledge of Kentucky stems from time spent in Louisville. I recall having lunch at a Greek restaurant on Bardstown Road when there was some kind of uproar. An older couple took exception to the “CSA” belt buckle worn by the waitress. They left without leaving a tip. We talked briefly and I learned her name while leaving a generous tip, for which she thanked me profusely. A few days later I was at Highland Coffee, where Chess players met weekly, sitting outside talking with others, and I mentioned the scene at the Greek place. As we talked about the Civil War and how conflicted was Louisville (and Kentucky in general) a young man at the next table stood up, looked down at me, and said, “That ‘attractive young lady,’ as you put it, is my sister. Here’s the deal, mister, we won; you lost; GET…OV..VER…IT!” Then he walked away into the sunset, just like a movie…

‘Cross the Green Mountain
Written by: Bob Dylan

I crossed the green mountain, I slept by the stream

Heaven blazin’ in my head, I dreamt a monstrous dream

Something came up out of the sea

Swept through the land of the rich and the free

I look into the eyes of my merciful friend

And then I ask myself, is this the end?

Memories linger, sad yet sweet

And I think of the souls in heaven who will meet

Altars are burning with flames falling wide

The foe has crossed over from the other side

They tip their caps from the top of the hill

You can feel them come, more brave blood to spill

Along the dim Atlantic line

The ravaged land lies for miles behind

The light’s comin’ forward and the streets are broad

All must yield to the avenging God

The world is old, the world is gray

Lessons of life can’t be learned in a day

I watch and I wait and I listen while I stand

To the music that comes from a far better land

Close the eyes of our Captain, peace may he know

His long night is done, the great leader is laid low

He was ready to fall, he was quick to defend

Killed outright he was by his own men

It’s the last day’s last hour of the last happy year

I feel that the unknown world is so near

Pride will vanish and glory will rot

But virtue lives and cannot be forgot

The bells of evening have rung

There’s blasphemy on every tongue

Let them say that I walked in fair nature’s light

And that I was loyal to truth and to right

Serve God and be cheerful, look upward beyond

Beyond the darkness that masks the surprises of dawn

In the deep green grasses of the blood stained wood

They never dreamed of surrendering. They fell where they stood

Stars fell over Alabama, I saw each star

You’re walkin’ in dreams whoever you are

Chilled are the skies, keen is the frost

The ground’s froze hard and the morning is lost

A letter to mother came today

Gunshot wound to the breast is what it did say

But he’ll be better soon he’s in a hospital bed

But he’ll never be better, he’s already dead

I’m ten miles outside the city and I’m lifted away

In an ancient light that is not of day

They were calm, they were blunt, we knew ’em all too well

We loved each other more than we ever dared to tell

Copyright

© 2002 by Special Rider Music

Mississippi Republican Governor States Wrongs

The following post is NOT the one intended for today, which concerned the Royal Game, and it will follow later this evening. Recently the AW has been spending time reading Chess magazines and replaying games at a feverish rate in an attempt to get away from all of the bad news, especially that emanating from Washington, D. C. In the coming daze the intention is to post several items of interest before devoting all, or at least most, of my time writing about Chess. That is, unless the lunatic F.I.P. at the White House does something even more stupid than the damage already done to We The People. The following article was read only late last night. Let me say that “timing is everything” and this was certainly NOT the time for this from yet another Republican FOOL IN POWER! I am all for “Heritage, not hate,” because as Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Although unfortunate, slavery is part of the history of the USA, both north and South, because the northern people of the time, in their wisdom, brought Africans in slavery to this country. For the record, the South was against bringing Africans to this country. At a time when this country needs to come together as ONE PEOPLE here is yet another idiotic Republican seeking to divide We The People.

Mississippi Governor Declares ‘Confederate Heritage Month’ During Coronavirus Pandemic

Republican Tate Reeves has a long history of ties to pro-Confederate groups.

By Amanda Terkel

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has taken the time to declare April “Confederate Heritage Month.”

The proclamation came two days after Reeves changed his position and issued a statewide ordering shutting down nonessential businesses and ordering residents to stay home, according to the Jackson Free Press.

Reeves’ proclamation says April is the month when, in 1861, “the American Civil War began between the Confederate and Union armies, reportedly the costliest and deadliest war ever fought on American soil.”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves took time out of his coronavirus response to honor the Confederacy.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves took time out of his coronavirus response to honor the Confederacy.

In 2016, then-Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a similar proclamation, although that one placed responsibility for the Civil War squarely on the shoulders of the Confederacy: “April is the month when the Confederate states began and ended a four-year struggle.” Reeves’ proclamation, as the Jackson Free Press noted, seems to spread the blame around.

Reeves faced significant criticism for being slow to issue a stay-at-home order for his state. And when he did so, his order was less strict than what some mayors had already done, allowing churches, as well as restaurants with 10 or fewer people, to stay open as “essential” businesses. He also took a shot at “liberal jurisdictions” that were shutting down more businesses.

In a follow-up order, Reeves closed down restaurants as well, restricting them to drive-through, curbside pickup and delivery.

Reeves did not return a request for comment on his Confederate history proclamation.

Reeves has long had ties to pro-Confederate organizations. In 2013, as lieutenant governor, Reeves spoke at an event for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a neo-Confederate organization that claims the Civil War was not about slavery.

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) spoke at a Sons of Confederate Veterans event in 2013.

And as HuffPost reported last year, Reeves was a member of Kappa Alpha Order at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, a college fraternity that was known for pro-Confederate displays and run-ins with black students ― which became an issue in his gubernatorial run.

The fraternity looks to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as its spiritual leader. A 1993 yearbook listed Reeves as a freshman that year, and he was featured as a Kappa Alpha member starting in the 1994 yearbook.

On Oct. 8, 1994, members of Kappa Alpha and another fraternity “donned Afro wigs and tied large Confederate flags around their necks,” according to an article in The Clarion-Ledger at the time. Some of them were also reportedly in blackface. The fraternity brothers “got into a shouting match” over the incident with some black students.

In 1995, the Kappa Alpha yearbook page showed a group of students standing with a Confederate flag in military attire. It’s not clear if Reeves was in the photo, although he was also pictured as a member of the fraternity that year.

“As a quick Google search will show, Lt. Gov. Reeves was a member of Kappa Alpha Order. Like every other college student, he did attend costume formals and other parties, and across America, Kappa Alpha’s costume formal is traditionally called Old South in honor of the Civil War veteran who founded the fraternity in the 1800s,” Reeves’ spokeswoman said in 2019, in response to the controversy.

“I condemn racism because that’s the way I was raised,” Reeves added at the time, “and I will tell you that’s the way I have governed as lieutenant governor.”

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tate-reeves-confederate-mississippi_n_5e8b3d5cc5b6cbaf282cf2e3

Mississippi

Written by: Bob Dylan

Every step of the way we walk the line

Your days are numbered, so are mine

Time is pilin’ up, we struggle and we scrape

We’re all boxed in, nowhere to escape

City’s just a jungle, more games to play

Trapped in the heart of it, trying to get away

I was raised in the country, I been workin’ in the town

I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down

Got nothing for you, I had nothing before

Don’t even have anything for myself anymore

Sky full of fire, pain pourin’ down

Nothing you can sell me, I’ll see you around

All my powers of expression and thoughts so sublime

Could never do you justice in reason or rhyme

Only one thing I did wrong

Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well, the devil’s in the alley, mule’s in the stall

Say anything you wanna, I have heard it all

I was thinkin’ about the things that Rosie said

I was dreaming I was sleeping in Rosie’s bed

Walking through the leaves, falling from the trees

Feeling like a stranger nobody sees

So many things that we never will undo

I know you’re sorry, I’m sorry too

Some people will offer you their hand and some won’t

Last night I knew you, tonight I don’t

I need somethin’ strong to distract my mind

I’m gonna look at you ‘til my eyes go blind

Well I got here following the southern star

I crossed that river just to be where you are

Only one thing I did wrong

Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well my ship’s been split to splinters and it’s sinking fast

I’m drownin’ in the poison, got no future, got no past

But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free

I’ve got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me

Everybody movin’ if they ain’t already there

Everybody got to move somewhere

Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow

Things should start to get interesting right about now

My clothes are wet, tight on my skin

Not as tight as the corner that I painted myself in

I know that fortune is waitin’ to be kind

So give me your hand and say you’ll be mine

Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay

You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way

Only one thing I did wrong

Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Copyright

© 1996 by Special Rider Music

Mississippi

General States Rights Gist

One of the things most liked about writing a blog is the people met via the internet. There are many “followers” of the AW, and I check out all of them. An example would be the blog, Amanda Likes To Travel (http://amandalikestotravel.com/). I have lived vicariously through the written words of Amanda, because I, too, liked to travel. Amanda has not written lately and I can only hope it is because Amanda, like most of us, has hunkered down during the COVID-19 crisis. Maybe Amanda will consider temporarily changing the blog to, “Hunkering down with Amanda.”

Sometimes emails are received from readers, which means being in contact with people all over the world because of writing the AW. Recently an email was received from a young lady who lives in one of the northern states. She wrote, “Since you live and write about the south, I want to know about states rights.” She had noticed a map showing the states who had yet to impose restrictions for the people of that particular state, most being in the South.

How to answer such a question in a blog post?

From the book, The Day Dixie Died,

https://images.macmillan.com/folio-assets/macmillan_us_frontbookcovers_350W/9781429945752.jpg

by Gary Ecelbarger:

“The elation of the conquerors disintegrated, for the Ohioans had then exposed themselves to a counterpunch. That left hook came in the form of Georgia and South Carolina infantry. Those were the four regiments commanded by a man with the most unique birth name in the war-Brigadier General States Rights Gist, who was born during South Carolina’s nullification crisis of 1832. Gist’s father named him as a symbol of the state’s resolve, one that was enacted twenty-eight years later when South Carolina became the first of eleven Southern states to seceded from the United States. General Gist was an experienced, brave, and resilient commander. The day before the battle, Gist was struck in the back by an enemy bullet, a glancing shot that hit him close to his spine, but did not lodge within him. The general shrugged it off; a surgeon dressed the wound, and he was back in the saddle almost immediately.”

The United States is a collection of fifty sovereign states. The first state, Delaware, was ratified on December 7, 1787. The Great State of Georgia was the fourth state to ratify, doing so on January 2, 1788. My home state was the first Southern state. The Great State of South Carolina, the eighth state to ratify on May 23, 1788, was the second Southern state. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_date_of_admission_to_the_Union)

In addition, this is also found at Wikipedia:

A state of the United States is one of the 50 constituent entities that shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Americans are citizens of both the federal republic and of the state in which they reside, due to the shared sovereignty between each state and the federal government.[1] Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

States are the primary subdivisions of the United States. They possess all powers not granted to the federal government, nor prohibited to them by the United States Constitution. In general, state governments have the power to regulate issues of local concern, such as: regulating intrastate commerce, running elections, creating local governments, public school policy, and non-federal road construction and maintenance. Each state has its own constitution grounded in republican principles, and government consisting of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_date_of_admission_to_the_Union)

That is pretty cut and dry, is it not? Still…The fact is that the South was much more prosperous than the north prior to the war because cotton was king.

“In 1860, 5 of the 10 wealthiest states in the US are slave states; 6 of the top 10 in per capita wealth; calculated just by white population, 8 of 10. The single wealthiest county per capita was Adams County, Mississippi. As a separate nation in 1860, the South by itself would have been the world’s 4th wealthiest, ahead of everyone in Europe but England. Italy did not enjoy an equivalent level of per capita wealth until after WWII; the South’s per capita growth rate was 1.7%, 1840-60, 1/3 higher than the North’s and among the greatest in history.

from Walter Johnson, “King Cotton’s Long Shadow,” NY Times (4/30/13):

… In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln said he feared God would will the war to continue “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.” This reckoning of the value of slaves in blood and treasure raises an important, though too frequently overlooked, question. What was the role of slavery in American economic development?

The most familiar answer to that question is: not much. By most accounts, the triumph of freedom and the birth of capitalism are seen as the same thing. The victory of the North over the South in the Civil War represents the victory of capitalism over slavery, of the future over the past, of the factory over the plantation. In actual fact, however, in the years before the Civil War, there was no capitalism without slavery. The two were, in many ways, one and the same.” (http://inside.sfuhs.org/dept/history/US_History_reader/Chapter5/southernecon.html)

The people of the northern states wanted more Southern money and enacted the Morrill Tariff (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morrill_Tariff) in order to obtain more money, which caused the South to rebel.

Charles Dickens,

https://www.dickensfellowship.org/sites/default/files/images/young-charles-dickens.jpg

from his journal, All the Year Round, observed, “The last grievance of the South was the Morrill tariff, passed as an election bribe to the State of Pennsylvania, imposing, among other things, a duty of no less than fifty per cent on the importation of pig iron, in which that State is especially interested.” (https://medium.com/@jonathanusa/everything-you-know-about-the-civil-war-is-wrong-9e94f0118269)

English author Charles Dickens said: “The Northern onslaught against Southern slavery is a specious piece of humbug designed to mask their desire for the economic control of the Southern states.” Southern states contributed approximately 70 percent of the government revenue. (https://www.delmarvanow.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/06/17/civil-war-confederacy-monuments-history/102845176/)

A terrible war was fought over control of wealth. The northern people won the war and got the wealth. They could have done anything they wanted, like building schools for the freed slaves in order to educate them and “bring them up to speed.” The victors could have rebuilt the South. Instead they left the South alone, possibly fearing the Southern people would again secede. That was not going to happen because the Southern people were completely devastated. It would be many generations before the South could even consider doing anything with the yankee boot on their necks. General Robert E. Lee

https://i0.wp.com/www.let.rug.nl/usa/images/lee.jpg

said to former Governor of Texas, Fletcher Stockdale, in 1870:  “Governor, if I had forseen the use those people designed to make use of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox; no, sir, not by me. Had I forseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand.” That sword had previously belonged to George Washington, the Father of our country. The Federal gov’mint let the Southerners do its thing while turning a blind eye to segregation for a century, until one man, the outspoken Dr. Martin Luther King,

https://media1.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2017_03/1866931/ss-170116-martin-luther-king-jr-22_73b4dc9496463b3c467cd2c4579bae09.fit-880w.JPG

led his people in the streets, demanding equality.

Just so you will know exactly how I feel about the past of my South a story  will related from my youth.  Members of our extended family in the house and the television was on and it showed black people marching right there in downtown Atlanta. The usual Southern things could be heard, such as, “They oughta be put in jail,” and “They oughta be sent back to where they came from.” I cringed upon hearing one family member say, “They oughta be LYNCHED!”

The room became deathly quiet when I said, “I dunno…if I had dark skin I would be right out there marching with them.”

After being told by my Mother to “Go outside,” I did just that. On the way out I heard one say, “Mary, your boy ain’t right.”

Mother responded, “Michael has a mind of his own.”

Reading the New South

The following article appeared in the venerable New York Times after the last post was composed, and posted, as if by synchronicity…

After getting to know a little about me a fellow in Louisville, Kentucky, Rick Rothenberg, from Indiana, said I reminded him of another Southerner he had known earlier. Rick said, “The man was so Southern he would not even go out of the house if the wind was blowing from the north!”

Reading the New South

A group of forward-thinking, upstart journals and websites are exploding the stereotypes so many attach to this place and its people.

By Margaret Renkl

Contributing opinion writer

Sept. 17, 2018


Some of Lyndsey Gilpin’s collection of books on the South.CreditCreditAndrew Spear for The New York Times

NASHVILLE — I was a graduate student in Philadelphia when James Watt, the former Secretary of the Interior of the United States, came to campus in 1984. Mr. Watt’s brief tenure in federal office was characterized by an almost cartoonish villainy. Rolling Stone magazine called his attitude toward the environment a “rip-and-ruin view of our natural resources, land, water, parks and wilderness.” That night Watt argued for letting each state set its own air- and water-safety standards, a position that makes no sense if you’re aware that rivers and winds don’t respect state borders.

During the Q. and A., I took my turn at the microphone to make this point. “Sir,” I said, “I’m from Alabama.” Instantly that giant audience of Pennsylvanians broke into laughter. Who was this cracker daring to voice an opinion about federal environmental policy?

Well, that was 1984, you’re probably thinking. Today we don’t judge people by their accents any more than we judge them by their skin color. People know better now.

Except they don’t. The political polarization of our own day means that a region like the South, a red voting bloc in national elections, is a source of continual liberal ridicule, no matter the subject. In June I wrote about the transcendently beautiful Mobile-Tensaw Delta, one of the most ecologically diverse places in the country. When I posted the link on Facebook with a note about its magic, someone commented, “Except that it’s in Alabama.” As though nothing in the whole state could possibly have any value at all.

As stereotypes go, this one surely doesn’t rank among the top 10 most objectionable human prejudices, but it stings even so. Fortunately there is plenty of on-the-ground proof to counter it. Among the most important is a raft of publications, many so new they’re still on shaky financial footing, that aim to convey the genuine complexities of the modern American South. They are planted in the South and created by Southerners, people who love this place but who nevertheless see it all too truly.

Unlike lifestyle glossies like Southern Living and Garden & Gun (which is assiduously apolitical, despite what its name might suggest), these publications blast past sweet-tea-and-moonshine preconceptions to convey the nuances of a region where people are rarely as ornery and dumb as they’re held to be in the national imagination.

The oldest of them is the Oxford American, founded in Oxford, Miss., but now based in Conway, Ark., which was first launched in 1992. (A print quarterly, it has foundered a number of times over the years, ceasing publication until new funding arrived, which somehow always has.) In many ways, it set the tone for all the publications that followed, celebrating the artistic innovations of the region but refusing to gloss over its manifold shortcomings.

The latest issue includes a nonfiction report by Kelsey Norris on a Nashville oral-history project focusing on the descendants of slaves; Beth Macy’s profile of the Appalachian playwright and novelist Robert Gipe; “Bikers,” a poem by the Virginia native Kate Daniels about her brothers (“What foreign lives they lived / With their deer hunts, and their / Love of speed, and their boring jobs / In factories”) and a short story by David Wesley Williams about a hitchhiker stuck in West Memphis, Ark. The story is called “Stay Away From Places With Directions in Their Names.”

The tagline for Facing South, an online publication of the progressive Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, N.C., is “A Voice for a Changing South.” The site focuses on politics, history and human rights, with recent articles on voting rights during Reconstruction, South Carolina’s present refusal to evacuate convicts in advance of Hurricane Florence and delays in compensation for people sickened by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Scalawag, another nonprofit publication out of Durham, also reports regional politics with a progressive eye, though it covers regional art and literature, too, and includes a section titled, simply, “Witness.” The magazine, which is published online and in print, fosters “critical conversations about the many Souths where we live, love and struggle” and aims to empower “activists, artists and writers to reckon with Southern realities as they are, rather than as they seem to be.” Recent stories confront toxic masculinity, explain how to fight racism through the auspices of craft beer, collect a range of Latinx poetry from around the American South, and report on Syrian cuisine in small-town Georgia.

The Southern Foodways Alliance, based in Oxford, Miss., publishes a print quarterly called Gravy. Despite its name, the journal does more than report on cuisine, continuing the work of the alliance itself by showcasing, through food, “a South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions and lovingly maintaining old ones.” The latest issue includes an article on “The Queer Pleasures of Tammy Wynette’s Cooking” by Mayukh Sen and a profile by Osayi Endolyn of Joe Stinchcomb, an African-American bartender who invented five new cocktails, to celebrate Black History Month. The drinks had names like “Blood on the Leaves” and “(I’m Not Your) Negroni,” and they definitely raised some hackles down there in Mississippi.

For anyone still hoping to define Southern literature, storySouth is an online literary journal based in Greensboro, N.C. It publishes “the best fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry that writers from the New South have to offer,” according to its website. Subjects that seem to play into regional stereotypes can be found there at times. The current issue features a poem called “Roadkill” by Megan Blankenship and one by William Woolfitt called “Grassy Branch Pentecostal Church, Face of Christ on Tin,” for example. But read the poems: This is not your unlamented Agrarian’s Southern literature.

Perhaps the liveliest of the whole bunch is an absolutely wonderful online publication called The Bitter Southerner, an irreverent Atlanta-based site that truly covers the cultural waterfront, celebrating the lunacy of genuine homegrown geniuses, lifting up the unsung heroes of the region, and peeking behind the veil of great cultural institutions, and all while holding power to account in a part of the world where power has too often lost its uneducated mind.

But it’s the newest of these publications that most often captures my own attention these days. Southerly began in late 2016 as a weekly newsletter of investigative journalism, plus curated links to “News Flying Under the Radar” by other journalists around the region. Until this summer, when it received a grant from Solutions Journalism Network, it was funded entirely by Patreon subscribers, who monthly contribute an average of five dollars each through an online portal. Those supporters are still crucial to its survival. Lyndsey Gilpin — the magazine’s founder, editor and publisher — is a Northwestern University-trained journalist based in her hometown, Louisville, Ky., and her weekly reports from impoverished and often oppressed corners of the South have given a microphone to people whose voices are rarely heard in conversations about climate change, environmental exploitation or economic disparity.


Lyndsey Gilpin, founder of Southerly, an online magazine, near her home in Louisville, Ky.CreditAndrew Spear for The New York Times

In July, Southerly grew into a full-fledged “independent media organization” that “covers the intersection of ecology, justice and culture in the American South,” according to its new website, and already it is taking no prisoners. The site — in partnership with The Montgomery Advertiser and Scalawag — launched with a four-part series on the breakout of tropical diseases in the rural South owing to failing sewage infrastructure. On Sept. 22, Southerly will convene a public discussion in Hayneville, Ala., about poverty-related illnesses and how communities can address the governmental crisis that spawned them.

Southerly’s mission statement sets out some uncompromising goals: “This region stands to bear the brunt and lose the most from the effects of climate change. It is experiencing massive economic shifts from a changing energy industry. The South is the fastest urbanizing area of the United States, but it is also the most economically distressed. Southerners deserve a publication that covers the nuances of their environment, history and communities without being condescending or stereotypical, without parachuting in from large metropolitan areas. The rest of the world deserves to know about the creative ways communities here are adapting to these changes, and the challenges that come with that.”

You could almost call it a mission statement for celebrating — and transforming — the South itself.