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Oxford American

Oxford American

Spring 2021
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The Oxford American features 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 multiple National Magazine Awards and other high honors since it began publication in 1992. The magazine has featured the original work of such literary powerhouses as Charles Portis, Roy Blount, Jr., ZZ Packer, Jesmyn Ward, Donald Harington, Sarah M. Broom, Donna Tartt, and Ernest J. Gaines. The magazine has also published previously unseen work by such Southern masters as William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Walker Percy, James Agee, Zora Neale Hurston, James Dickey and Carson McCullers, to name just a handful. The New York Times claims that the Oxford American "may be the liveliest literary magazine in America."

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Oxford American
4 Issues

in this issue

5 min.

LOKELANI ALABANZA is the owner of SATURATED, a plant-based ice cream company located in Nashville, Tennessee. Her love for nostalgia has inspired her to create more than three hundred flavors that both educate and spur the imagination. She is currently working on her first cookbook. JULIA BAINBRIDGE is a James Beard Award–nominated writer whose stories have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Food & Wine, among others. Her podcast, The Lonely Hour, has been featured by O, The Oprah Magazine, Psychology Today, Women’s Health, Bloomberg, the Financial Times, the BBC, NPR, and more. Perhaps most importantly, she likes good drinks. TIANA CLARK is the author of two poetry collections: I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood and Equilibrium. Her writing has…

12 min.
food is us

Southern food truth: We eat the best meals with family and friends. And cook the best meals for family and friends. Fortunate are we who with family and friends cook, serve, eat, then clean. Quiet as it is kept, and widely as it has become forgotten, those who do the cooking and the farming know that those who only eat what is cooked for them and served to them never eat as well, measured by flavor on the tongue or justice in the world, as those who sample straight from the pot with a clean tasting spoon. On August 28, 2020, the world of letters and the world of food—the world of truth-telling about the South—lost the two people who knew this best: Randall Kenan and Julia Reed. And I lost two friends. Julia…

18 min.
covid kitchen

In March when the coronavirus descends on Kentucky, just as it has all over the world, spring is beginning to show itself. The front yard is a new green. My partner, Ron, sits in a wicker chair on our porch with his back to me “washing the groceries.” His dreadlocs fall forward across his shoulders while he works. The day is warm; he nods his sweet head to the music. “Salaam Peace” by Abdullah Ibrahim reaches back to me inside the house, and the jazz lends a calming hand. I’m readied at the storm door to assist with the sea of full bags that covers the porch, and the music takes me up, too. My partner’s hands dip into the plastic bags, emptying them one at a time, placing the food…

4 min.
the umstead

It was near the cypress trees growing by Raleigh’s Big Lake that Zack Thomas first saw blackberries in the wild. Kingfishers tend to set up shop around this part of William B. Umstead State Park, and in the summer of 2018, one of them led Thomas, then a bartender at Crawford and Son restaurant, into a meadow. Blackberry bushes dotted its perimeter. Kinesthetic thinkers tap their toes, swing their legs, or wiggle pens in their hands in order to shake ideas loose. Thomas walks, making contact with the ground—a foundation to step onto and off from—and looking at something other than rows of bottled bitters and polished Hawthorne strainers. Something alive. When he saw those berries, Thomas wanted to find a way to work them into a cocktail. He returned to the…

15 min.

Not to anthropomorphize food, but pimento cheese crosses boundaries promiscuously. Consider its Southern stamping grounds and also its presence across the continent, in a barebones garage apartment in the invented seaside town of Santa Teresa, California. There, private investigator Kinsey Millhone chases runaway wives, shysters, murderers, and disappearing corpses—all the while subsisting on a consistent diet of sarcasm and sandwiches. The eternally thirtysomething gumshoe of author Sue Grafton’s popular alphabet mysteries has exactly one good dress, two ex-husbands, and a handful of favorite sandwiches. Hard-boiled egg slathered with mayo, heavy on the salt. The faintly Elvisonian peanut butter and pickles. And olive and pimento cheese—the culinary lovechild of the cocktail olive and the South’s orange pâté of cheddar cheese, mayo and/or cream cheese, and the eponymous sweet pepper (not to be confused with…

4 min.
the art of being eaten alive

Everyone knows that you are what you eat. The age-old adage goes a long way toward explaining why American culture is so Black. For centuries—while America sustained itself on our blood—we built the Capitol, baked the cornbread, and birthed the culture. One of our most significant achievements was the cakewalk, a delectable dance form that we invented in response to being eaten alive. In 1821, when a shipwreck destroyed the American whaling vessel Essex, the survivors resorted to cannibalism. The first four crewmembers eaten were Black. A decade later, in 1831, when slavers captured and killed Nat Turner, the leader of the famed Virginia slave rebellion, Turner’s executioners delivered his body to doctors for dissection. Then, according to William Sidney Drewry, a Virginia-born history professor, the physicians flayed the Black man’s…