Skip to content
Gothic South (Vol. 29, No. 4) cover: Allison Janae Hamilton

Gothic South

Vol. 29, No. 4  //  winter 2023

Guest edited by Kinitra D. Brooks, this issue unpacks the Gothic South, exploring its haints, hollers, and hoodoo. Featuring a conversation with Jesmyn Ward, photo essays by Jared Ragland and Kristine Potter, fiction by Rebecca Bengal and K. Ibura, poetry by Golden, and more.

Table of Contents

Haints, Hollers, and Hoodoo

by Kinitra D. Brooks
A dark spirit lives on your porch,” the medium told me. Excuse me? Prickles of dread and fear blossomed in my chest. What the hell am I supposed to do about that? I was only beginning my journey in ancestor veneration—working through my fears of the dead in general and dark spirits in particular with »

Something Beautiful out of the Darkness

by Jesmyn Ward, Regina N. Bradley
When I describe Jesmyn Ward’s writing to people, I say, “Her writing leaves me with brittle bones.” Originally from the Gulf Coast community of DeLisle, Mississippi, Ward is unapologetically steeped in a southern Black literary tradition that amplifies the complicated realities of being Black in the South, wrapping her characters in a warmth and honesty »

Specters of the Mythic South

How Plantation Fiction Fixed Ghost Stories to Black Americans

by Alena Pirok
In 1890 The Richmond Times declared that Virginia had developed “uncanny mania.” The symptom was simple: residents’ ability and willingness to “tell more ghost stories than those of any other state.” The mania quickly spread to every neighborhood, each having its own “story of the supernatural, its haunted houses, its lonely road” with “strange sights »
Photo Essay

What Has Been Will Be Again

by Jared Ragland, Catherine Wilkins
Scholars Eric Savoy and Robert Martin describe American Gothic as a “discursive field in which a metonymic national ‘self’ is undone by the return of its repressed Otherness.” In What Has Been Will Be Again (2020–2022), photographer Jared Ragland underscores the significance not only of his art form but of place as an important contributor »

Snapshot: Fear of a Black (Southern) Planet

Kara Walker's "Night Conjure"

by Kameelah L. Martin
“The Black woman is tossing an ambiguous object into a presumed hole in the ground, arguably to effect the desired outcome of her conjure spell. Indeed, both the woman and Walker are turning a hoodoo trick for the viewer.” Kara Walker is renowned for art that invokes the American South as an intrinsic site of »

Snapshot: Mama Possum

by John Jennings
“Mama Possum is a character cursed by her ancestors because she killed one of her children.” I was born in rural Mississippi in 1970, right after the Civil Rights Movement. In my formative years, I was thankfully unaware of the institutional struggles of racial oppression and violence that remained. My childhood was filled with barefoot »
credit: Kennedi Carter

Night Walker

by Kimberly Anderson
“He noticed the sound of the footsteps quicken, but a swift glance behind him offered only the shadow of a person outlined by the light of the moon.” “Hey, sorry I can’t take you further down the road, man, you sure you gon’ be alright?” Tea smiled at his friend. He fully understood the trepidation. The »

A Girl, a Man, a Storm, a City

by K. Ibura
“The children ogled the empty houses and sagging porches, fascinated by the veil of abandonment that smothered everything around them.” The trees stood silent, lining the street in stately rows. Survival was in their lineage. When the whipping winds, surging foodwaters, and battering rain had come, they had tightened their roots, clung to the dirt, »
Photo Essay BUY ACCESS

Blood Harmony

by Rebecca Bengal, Kristine Potter
“They drive by an old-timey church with one door for the men and a separate door for the women and a graveyard out back where the stones pop up like teeth in the night.” When Charlie sings, her sister Audra’s voice follows, the voice of a grown woman inside a little-girl body, high and lonesome »

Snapshot: Dark Corners

The Appalachian Murder Ballad

by Julyan Davis
“I grew up listening to the folks songs of my ancestors along the Scottish Borders.” I grew up listening to the folk songs of my ancestors along the Scottish Borders. When I left London for America, I discovered the songs again, preserved intact in the Appalachian South. Even as a child, I was drawn to »

Mystery of the Talking Skull

Family Secrets in Southern Appalachia

by Stephen Simmons
“Cheap, lurid, and often drawing from sensationalized news stories, pulp fiction enjoyed a heyday from the 1920s through the 1940s.” Middle Tennessee’s landscape is marked by its Central Basin, a region formed by the erosion of a geological dome once forced above the Earth’s surface from far below. On the outskirts of this crater’s perimeter »

The Uncanny Keep On Talkin’

Back Porch

by Regina N. Bradley
“Unsolved Mysteries was the portal to my imagination running wild, and fear was the pilot.” Wednesday nights were reserved for Unsolved Mysteries. A man’s disembodied voice warned viewers that we were about to watch something that “was not a news broadcast,” followed by a crescendo of synthesizers and Robert Stack’s gravelly voice and direct stare »

& When They Come For Me (Reprise)

by Golden,
Magnolia mothers, owl eyed girls,fellow forget-me-nots, let’s gather our God-gowns down the golden gallows. We made it to the foreverfantasy where I can’t remember what war we were weaponing to win: For some secretary sex? Some back-handed brother? Some sons & uncles & Grandfatherswho forget we have a heart-dream? An ox-blood song? A maiden name? »
Other Issues