Vol. 26, No. 4: The Imaginary South

Vol. 26, No. 4: The Imaginary South

“Imagination is our birthright, the intersection of our expansive private intimacies as they interact with our collective dreams,” writes Zandria F. Robinson. “It is where we take flight and keep going no matter what, or, as my people say, irregardless.” In this special issue, guest edited by Robinson, we visit places both real and imaginedfrom Appalachian Mississippi to New Earths.

Front Porch: The Imaginary South

by Tom Rankin

“We look to the unseen, to the power of opposites—the darkness and the light, the seen and unseen, the known and unknown, the dreams and the reality.”

Digging, Flapping, Churning, Soaring

by Zandria F. Robinson

“I would look over at Mama, eyes closed sometimes while she was singing, fingers steady snapping, face so peaceful and joyous, and I just knew she knew the place and exactly how to get there.”

The Most Caribbean of Stories

by Maya Doig-Acuña

“I knew Ganny only in small glimpses of family memory that seemed to contract the world in which she existed, such that she existed only in ours—that is, she belonged specifically to my family, and not to history.”


by Houston Cofield

“My dad spent much of his childhood in this North Mississippi landscape, and the process of wandering alone through these woods gave me a sense of connection to him that I hadn’t expected.”


by Barbara Sostaita

“Sanctuary is a direct response to raids, detentions, and deportations.”

Taking Our First Steps

by Patricia Crosby

“I found myself wanting to find a way to bridge the gap between the Black and white experiences of living in Claiborne County, and I hoped that the photos I took might someday help others see how they might flourish, as my girls did, from immersive contact with a culture not their own.”

“To Live and Thrive on New Earths”

by Danielle M. Purifoy

“In the midst of a pandemic, economic crisis, and a global uprising against antiBlackness and capitalism, Earthseed represents a version of the alternative world Octavia Butler imagined.”

The Making of Appalachian Mississippi

by Justin Randoph

“Mississippi’s white Appalachians may have owned the earth, but they could never own the past.”

Looking for Bigfoot

by Cassandra Klos

“The investigation was infectious, and, in a short time, I was looking for similar things myself, scouring the grounds for markings, ready to believe.”

The “Good Old Rebel” at the Heart of the Radical Right

by Joseph M. Thompson

“‘Good Old Rebel’ also failed to achieve Randolph’s literary goal, as it escaped the circles of his educated peers. By the late nineteenth century, the song belonged to and appeared to speak for the very people it mocked.”

Two Rivers

by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

For Fannie Lou Hamer and Audre Lorde.

Charismatic Megafauna

by Tiana Nobile

“What a parody, these people, / in their tiger-striped t-shirts / and leopard spotted lingerie, / how they burlesque your glory / into patterns and plush.”