Small and Smaller

My writer/activist friend Janisse Ray has recently written an essay called “Bleeding Fields,” all about rural exodus in the South. Janisse grew up in Baxley, a small farming town in south Georgia. Though she wasn’t raised on a farm (her father ran a junk yard), her grandparents were still on the land just outside of town all through her girlhood. She grew up eating home-grown...

The Duke of Deliverance and the Prince of Tides

Last weekend I was asked to attend a conference at the University of South Carolina on the 10th anniversary of James Dickey’s death. Acclaimed poet, author of Deliverance, and mentor to hundreds, Dickey taught in Columbia for nearly thirty years. Along with Pat Conroy, James Dickey is one of the two great literary figures South Carolina has produced since World War II. Their poetry and...

Sprawl Southern Style

We set out on our Cornbread and Sushi road trip to look for the changing South, and driving through Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Roanoke, and Charlottesville we found it-towns changed to edge-cities, farmland changed to suburbs, two-lanes changed to four-lanes, small-scale farming changed to corporate agriculture, mom-and-pop businesses changed to chain stores. Last week when our two vans arrived in...

Riding the Hogback Highway

This week we drove U.S. Highway 176 north to Landrum three days in a row to watch our son play in a basketball tournament at the new District 1 high school. We could have driven faster, more sterile I-26, but taking the old highway has its advantages and insights. I like to call this route “the Hogback Highway” because anywhere west of town along its length you might just catch a...

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