Culture & Literature
Oxford American

Oxford American

Spring 2020

Oxford American is a national magazine dedicated to featuring the very best in Southern writing while documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South. Billed as "The Southern Magazine of Good Writing," it has won two National Magazine Awards and other high honors since it began publication in 1992.

United States
Oxford American
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4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

BENJAMIN ANASTAS’s most recent book is the memoir Too Good to Be True. He teaches literature and writing at Bennington College in Vermont. JORDAN BLUMETTI is a writer from the Gulf Coast of Florida. His work has appeared in the Bitter Southerner, the Guardian, and Lapham’s Quarterly, among other publications. BRYAN BORLAND is the founding publisher of Sibling Rivalry Press and author most recently of DIG, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. GABRIELLA DEMCZUK is a photographer, journalist, and printmaker based in Washington, D.C. She studied fine arts and journalism at the George Washington University and photography at the Parsons School in Paris. She has been recognized by the White House News Photographers Association, Pictures of the Year International, American Photography, the Magnum Foundation, the British Journal of Photography,…

5 min.
the messy middle

In 2015, journalist Emily Gogolak flew into San Antonio, rented a car, and checked into a motel near Dilley, home of the South Texas Family Residential Center, a place today associated with the dismantling of this country’s asylum system. Gogolak attended asylum hearings that became seared into her memory—for the detainees’ raw emotion and for the guards’ seeming indifference. “The center itself is so startlingly strange that it feels fake,” she told me, “and the pain and trauma inside are overwhelming.” As she got to know the town, she fixated on the idea that studying Dilley is like gazing through a window into a particular experience in rural America. “It’s a place selected by the prison company, I came to realize, not only for its poverty but also for its…

13 min.
career girl meets rock star

A DEFINITION “Lumbeeland” is not a universal expression. I made it up some years ago, when I was living away from home and wanted to make students, friends, and strangers chuckle as they tried to absorb information about a place they had never heard of. It’s shorthand for the swampy, flat, somewhat remote territory along the border between North and South Carolina that we call home. Historically, our homeland stretched all the way to the James River in Virginia and the Great Peedee River in South Carolina, about forty-four thousand square miles. Today, its formal boundaries are Robeson County and four adjoining counties, encompassing about thirty-two thousand square miles; it has taken hundreds of years for European settlers and their descendants to decide where these borders lie, hundreds of years for…

4 min.
the wild

Crashing against the mountain, the sun breaks into a million rubies across the frosted panes of leaves, and every roof of every house is painted in a thin wainscoting of frost so the shingles brown what is underneath. The earth is trying to cure grief by way of cold and light. I decide it’s better to come than cry. In bedsheets, we are gravel thrown from the wheels of a pickup; we are making a mess of our bodies, so our lives will be less so. In the end, it is snow across your stomach, raw snow inside you, and I wonder how quickly the roofs will shed their white morning, how a window without the sun breaking across it is just another window, and I think here is love, when a thing holds within all it can ever be and then all its nothingness,…

12 min.
nothing stays the same

Last Labor Day weekend, the waters of the Atchafalaya ran so uncommonly low that someone in Morgan City, Louisiana, was able to walk into the middle of the river and plant a Trump flag firmly into its sandy bed. The next day, the flag was still flying as boats decorated with crepe paper and streamers lined up for the Blessing of the Fleet, the culminating event of the town’s annual Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. Shrimp and oil are Morgan City’s two most historically lucrative industries, and the weekend-long celebration has been running for decades. The day before the blessing, gospel choirs and rock bands performed underneath oak trees in the town’s park, and tables of fried-shrimp baskets and arts and crafts were set up under the bridge that leads to…

13 min.
the virgin

When I wake up my iPhone won’t turn on and the nearest Apple place is in Norfolk at the mall and that’s an hour and a half away. I put on a bright lipstick, brush my hair, and rub my wrists with one of them perfume samples from the paper. It’s spicy and sweet. On the ride there, my car pulls to the right. My right tire’s been leaking air for a while now. The radio plays “When Doves Cry” by Prince. Before Weston left me, he put me in handcuffs and held my head underwater in the bathtub. I would have done anything for him. I pass fields and then the fields turn to nice houses and traffic. In the parking deck the car beside me has brand-new tires. I run my…