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Subjects: Personal Essay


The Inner Banks

A Drive Home

by Megan Mayhew Bergman

I have lived on a small farm in southern Vermont for the last thirteen years. One year, it simply did not snow, and the low-grade environmental anxiety I’d been swallowing blossomed into something ferocious, blocking my imaginative impulse. I felt as though I couldn’t write fiction anymore. I poured my energy into becoming an environmental »


Confessions of a Climate Scientist

by James W. C. White

I misspent my youth wandering the mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, spending as much time as I could on long camping trips into the backwoods. It was there that I found where my internal compass pointed, namely, toward a longing to understand how the earth and its environment worked, why and how »


We Are Virginians

by Barbara Phillips

A farm on Peak’s Knob in Appalachian Virginia has shaped for generations the descendants of my great-great-grandfather Thomas Russell. Born enslaved in 1834, he purchased fifty acres only fourteen years after freedom. Over the years, members of my family grew Russell Farm to the two hundred acres presided over by James Arthur Russell, Thomas’s grandson »


Wade Taylor

A Family Haunting

by R. Larkin Taylor-Parker

“The same lack of services my ancestors said drove them to institutionalize Wade—the want of anyone to walk with him and make sure he got home safe—still drives disabled people into facilities today.” 5′ 10″. Dark hair. Gentle and easygoing. At the time of his death, in the ’60s, they said he had schizophrenia, but »


Loves and Secrets

by Jodi A. Byrd

“I remain haunted by what I can never know or speak of.” Growing up in the sandhills of Nebraska, I remember how my displaced Chickasaw father always surrounded us with his southern sensibilities: fried green tomatoes and eggplants, okra, black-eyed peas to start the new year, corn bread, and pit-roasted pig, javelina boar, or other »


Talk One Thing

Writing Family History in an Afro-Native World

by Kendra Taira Field

“This was genealogy as survival, genealogy with land and livelihood on the line.” As a child in the 1980s, I sensed that family history was deadly serious. Family history was material, physical, and psychological survival. In New Jersey, where I grew up, our family was Black; back in Oklahoma, my grandmother reminded us, we were »


My Inheritance

by Esther Oganda Ohito

“my lament begins / where the bodies are buried / beside each other . . . ” 1. Achiel Knock, knock.Who’s there? Mano en ng’a?Ai yawa, it’s me. Anyalo donjo?Me who?Me who hates meandering introductions.


Reading Foxfire

by Jessica Wilkerson

I grew up in a house full of books, three of which belonged to my dad. They were his wellworn Bible; How I Made a Million Dollars in Mail Order, and You Can Too; and The Foxfire Book. Published in 1972, The Foxfire Book carried the reader into the mountains of North Georgia, near the »


Windy Gap Road

by Joanna Welborn

Windy Gap Road twists up Little Brushy Mountain, dense forest on all sides until you crest the top and feel like you’re driving right into the sky. Follow the road a short way until it crosses Cling Johnson Road, named for my great-grandfather, and at the very end, you’ll hit the Johnson homestead: a medium-sized »


hula hoop around your heart

Periarterial Prayer

by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

The capillaries that connect your heart to your lungs are both airstreams and blood flow. Doctors call them periarterial. In the maze of small blood vessels that process oxygen no one knows where your heart ends and your lungs begin. Maybe there is no end to your heartbeat, your breathing. Even when the decade starts »


The House Beautiful, or the House Good Enough

by Julia Ridley Smith

Raised in the latter days of the mannered South, I was schooled daily, hourly—minutely—on the proper ways to speak, dress, eat, move, and sit. My parents imparted these lessons wherever we happened to be, whether at home, out in public, or at their higher-end antiques shop in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. They told me what »


Stand Strong, Stand Long

by Loretta Pierre

“While I struggle, I will continue to study and learn about the struggles of others.” After spending almost thirty-three years in a Mississippi prison, on a hot summer day in 2020, I was contacted and invited to be a host of a radical study group. What intrigued me about this program was that it was facilitated »