The 2014 New Southerner Literary Contest opens August 1 and runs through September 30. In addition to publication in the literary edition and the chance to participate in a celebratory reading, we offer $200 prizes for winners of Fiction, Nonfiction, and the James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry. New Southerner editors and advisory board members blindly review and select the top five entries in each category. Final judges select winning entries. This year’s final judges are Steven R. Cope, Dianne Aprile, and Charles Dodd White.
“Mommy issues” in memoirs—and life—might be cliché, but the courage and strength demonstrated by Clabough’s mother (she left the 1970s male-dominated world of research scientists to raise her child) makes her sympathetic though far from pitiable. Even as an adolescent Clabough, equally gifted and bull-headed, tests and resists her.
When I need supplies to keep my dream alive, I look at what I have to do to get things done, instead of wallowing in pity. I’m in the business of audio and art, not futility. I’ve been instilled with the knowledge that a work shirt isn’t an Armani button-up ruined by a drop of coffee, but a T-shirt decorated with grease, dirt, and sweat. A man can be defined by his successes, but he is ruled on how he handles obstacles. In my mind, problems are merely that—obstacles, something to get past.
Let’s face it. We live in a throwaway society. Look at the average lifespan of a mobile phone, for example. How long will that little wonder of technology last? On average, 18 months, according to Media Bistro. So last spring, when I went in search of a pair of socks that would last longer than six months, I wasn’t sure such a product existed.
I fall in love with songs when I first write them, but soon after, a love/hate relationship evolves. Depending on the day, time, mood, weather, what I ate for breakfast, stage of the moon, horoscope, price of the Dow Jones, or anything that can be skewed by perception, I may hate or love playing back the song I just wrote. From there, I might decide to record it. If I do, it’s a process of finding the tone and message I want to achieve with the recording. Do I want to use an acoustic, electric, programmed instruments, or real percussion? Do I want to yell, whisper, or stay silent? Should I use the solid state or tube amp? Set it on 10 or barely turn the volume knob? Clean or dirty? Crunch or lead? Once I run the gambit on soundscapes and every possible tonal difference, I start to mic.
It’s said that there are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than there are people. Fact or fiction, Kentucky is certainly known for its bourbon. If Small Batch, an anthology of bourbon poetry, edited by Leigh Anne Hornfeldt and Teneice Durrant, is an example, then the “small batch” of fine poems written here, in adulation, shame, or blame of the potent liquid, has distilled into a rare vintage—smooth and heady.
I was so addicted to texting that I began to worry what my friends thought when I was not texting them back. I wanted to look at my phone just to see if anybody had noticed I was not texting them back. The urge was intense and grew in intensity. Then I realized I could not look at my phone because, being the smart cookie that I am, I had given it to my mom. Thank goodness I knew myself enough to realize beforehand that I was addicted to my iPhone.
More often than not, the plants need to sit in liquid, hot or cold, for their properties can be extracted. Part of their hidden wisdom is that they can teach us patience by calling upon us to slow down, sit still, rest. I believe that these days most human ills come from doing too much and not resting enough. We need sleep, time of not doing, space for our beleaguered minds to rest at ease. So the plants steep in water or oil for minutes, days, or even weeks at time, while we watch and wait for their gifts to be ready for us to receive.
In this age of rising medical costs, invasive procedures, prescriptions with multiple side effects as well as increasingly drug-resistant bacterial and viral infections, I feel it is critical that we reclaim how to care for ourselves and as did our ancestors. There is nothing newfangled or exotic about working with common, local “weeds,” garden grown herbs, or those bought from a reputable merchant. It is what people have done for thousands of years.
Making do with what you have is a sign of true creativity and innovation. You know all those “vintage” sounds and records that your mother or father played? Whether Motown hits or Black Sabbath, some of the most iconic sounds ever made were recorded with old beat-up equipment, minimal training, no digital correction and no grand production overall. Yet that’s the tone that can grab a person’s ear today.
survived. It was as scary as the Y2K pandemic. However, the world did not end because I turned off my cell phone and did not power up the computer. Life without being “plugged in” was peaceful and uneventful, and I focused on some of the things I generally take for granted. My attention turned to my family, and our entertainment with and for each other was relaxing, warm, and comfortable.
Michele Larocque snapped this image of snow-coated tomato cages in one of the many enchanting back alleys of the Crescent Hill neighborhood of Louisville, Ky. Larocque writes, “The folks who own the house also have a beehive, and they had chickens last summer, though I don’t see them anymore, so perhaps letting them run loose was not the best choice for their urban farm.”
How have my fellow gardeners been over the winter? Here in the Ohio Valley, it has been miserably cold the last couple of weeks, so the natural solution for me is to dream about my garden. I’m itching for the smell of freshly plowed soil and the feel of dirt under my fingernails. Although our family may be living in a new location without the benefits of a big yard, I’ve already begun to plan my garden.
Our 2013 literary contest winners have been selected and notified. Finalists have been notified by email. Winners, finalists and semifinalists are listed below. Thank you to all our contest participants. We were awed by the many talented works you submitted.
Thank you to our readers, Bobbi Buchanan, D. Cameron Lawrence and Cecilia Woloch, and to our final judges, Maurice Manning in poetry, Crystal Wilkinson in fiction and Julie Marie Wade in nonfiction.
Winners, finalists and semifinalists will appear in The New Southerner Literary Edition, which will be available online and in print in December.
Editor Bobbi Buchanan and a small crew of local musicians, artists and writers will appear at the 5th annual Bluegrass Bioneers Conference this weekend in Louisville. The team is representing Bullitt County’s bimonthly art, music and spoken word series, the Homegrown Show.
When I made the decision to unplug from the world of technology for 24 hours, I remember thinking that this experiment would be a snap. Not only did I plan to turn my phone off, but I would also shut down my computer, refuse to turn on the television and even avoid the microwave. Let me tell you, unplugging was harder than I could have ever imagined. I believe I actually went through withdrawals of some sort.
Waking up, I wasn’t sure what to do. At the beginning of each day, I usually check emails and text messages and browse Facebook to get myself up to speed on what happened while I was sleeping. I had none of those. I wondered, “Should I clean? Should I wash the car? Should I study?” I had never asked myself those questions before. I thought this was the breaking point already. I thought I wasn’t going to make it all day.
Kelley takes you so close to the sights, sounds, smells and even thoughts of his characters that you may hear Martin, Irène and Diane breathe as you shadow them through the complicated depths of their needs and hurts, their personal knowns and unknowns, their questions, searches and private shames. Answers lead to more questions, discoveries to unfathomable mysteries. The novel depicts deception among friends, lovers, detectives and, of course, that old reliable monster — self-deception.
As my garden harvests have started to come in, I’ve been left wondering what I can do with all of these vegetables before they spoil. In years past I would batter and fry squash and zucchini every day, have tomatoes on a bacon sandwich, or add tomatoes to tuna salad. However, in the spirit of adopting a healthier lifestyle, I have changed my eating habits and ways of cooking.
Maurice Manning will be the final judge of the James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry. Julie Marie Wade will select the winner in nonfiction, and Crystal Wilkinson will select the winning fiction entry. New Southerner editors and advisory board members select the top five entries in each category. Final judges select winning entries. Read more about our final judges here. The contest opens Aug. 1 and ends Sept. 30. Submission guidelines are posted at www.newsoutherner.com/contest.
After garnering a rap sheet that could’ve put Amy Winehouse to shame, I finally learned how to follow directions—something the judge said I had a problem with. In the past year, I’ve replaced my bad habits with musical and artistic ambitions. Yet, as I turn to take my seat, I have to wonder, don’t all rock stars have this problem—the desire to go against the grain? To define their own rules?
Becky White Cochran, of Lexington, Ky., captured the arrival of summer at Snug Hollow Farm, a bed and breakfast in Irvine that hosts retreats and workshops. “Nothing says ‘Southern’ like a mimosa tree and a metal porch glider,” says Cochran, who recommends Snug Hollow for unwinding and unplugging.
Luckily, I had errands to run on the day I unplugged, so I knew I would have some distractions. Since I had the entire day ahead of me, I decided to stop and treat myself to breakfast. This is where I first realized my internet addiction. I looked at the waitress when I ordered and thought to myself, “I haven’t done that in a long time.” She had a nice smile. I didn’t know, until that moment, how much I had missed having a genuine connection with people.
I knew a little about bees because one of my neighbors has hives and harvests honey. He has an in-ground pool and spent thousands of dollars putting in an intricate pond with a fountain so his bees can stay hydrated. Yet the bees were at my sprinkler. I wondered what my yard had that his didn’t.
My relationship with his guitar began when, all bridges burnt and at the mercy of the Commonwealth courts, I “volunteered” myself for rehab. Court ordered, with my mind disenthralled from pharmaceutical grips, my life had no direction. My words had no voice. Although surrounded by crowds of people, I felt lonely. In regulated amounts, I found that isolation can be a healthy retreat, and I found solace there.
I was nervous and a little uncomfortable about unplugging for 24 hours. I thought I would be missing out on what was happening in the Facebook world or my friends would think I was ignoring their texts. I have to admit that the only reason I participated in this challenge was to receive extra credit in my English 102 class; however, not using the internet, texting or doing anything involving technology from 9 a.m. April 6 to 9 a.m. April 7 turned into quite a learning experience.
My children were eager participants this year with the planting. The two older ones were delegated certain jobs that my husband supervised while I kept the youngest by my side and supervised her. To my surprise, the older ones took the initiative to stake up the tomato and pepper plants. As I watched, my heart swelled with pride. I was happy to discover how much our family could enjoy playing in the dirt.
Through her art, Wright hopes to convey the beauty in ordinary things. “The magic of unexpected treasure is all around us. It’s only a matter of perception that allows us to see or miss it.”
She also believes art is intrinsically activism because the artist engages in the act of creating in a solely driven and controlled process. “Art allows us to engage with the mystery, see and feel the intangible, leave behind the confines of coercion, dogma and the repressive attributes of society.”
Thoreau would have rejoiced that you are there,
haunting my yard from a sweet gum limb,
doing the “maniacal hooting for men”—
though I think he well knew the noise
we make can be maniacal enough.
Going 24 hours without texting or getting on the internet helped me to better understand my dependence on these devices for performing my daily tasks. The first few hours had me confused and a little lost. If I needed to ask a question or get a hold of someone, I realized I had to wait until after the 24-hour experiment or go see them face to face. As the experiment went on, however, I started to feel freedom, like I was truly in control of myself. I got to pay more attention to my surroundings. I wasn’t entrapped by a screen with silent and bleak posts, messages and false media reports.
A greenhouse allows you to get your seedlings going sooner and also provides a place to grow crops that are sensitive to weather changes. I set up my small, yet efficient greenhouse in a space that gets full sun most of the day.
Rejuvenating the soil with mulched up leaves and compost every year is a must. New gardeners don’t realize the importance of this until their crops fizzle and don’t reach their full potential. I made this rookie mistake last year. My husband and I expanded our garden plot, and we didn’t use compost on the previous year’s plot. Even though we changed the flow of our rows from north to south to east to west, the eastern end of the rows didn’t produce as much harvest as the other end that was “new” garden area.
This worry manifests in depression, yes, but it is not the thing itself. Despite being a stigmatized and misunderstood state, depression may at times be nothing more than a sign that one is awake to—that one cares about, that one feels—the greater worry of the world. The worry of the world, which does not recognize the individual human face, pervades the mass and is in fact defined by the mass. Mass incarceration, mass killings, mass warfare, mass ecocide (literally the killing of home), mass violence of all kinds: All these things are legion. To try to bear them is to be overrun.
Matthew Haughton: While I was spending my time learning Tom Petty or Nirvana songs—or trying to write lyrics like Leonard Cohen—the landscape was there, and the music of the hills, too. So, those songs, the ones born out of the landscape, seemed to soak into me back then, giving me a deeper awareness of where I was—those folk songs that I heard. When you are a kid with a guitar, it is all about “getting out.” But your position in those hills sinks in all the same. Even now, people like Roscoe Holcomb inspire my writing.
A tale spun out as if from a reel of dynamite fuse, Fries’ Ash Grove winds a precarious, rocky way through darkness, back into the light. Like the mine shafts that pierce the peaks around Ash Grove, through the deft storytelling of the author, the plots twist and turn, narrowing into blackness and dead ends. Characters disappear around corners, and then reappear as suddenly as a coal train around a hairpin bend.
In memory of the children lost at Sandy Hook Elementary and in Syrian war zones, and of all children ever lost anywhere.
December 17, 2012
I cracked my children’s bedroom doors,
looked upon them as they napped,
upon two children vulnerable
to anything they had mistrusted,
which could be anything.
Surely sleeping innocents do not belong
in such times we call these times.
With football season upon us, Love’s Winning Plays by Inman Majors will whet readers’ appetites for a good football game, especially the back story of the game in all of its managed chaos. Love’s Winning Plays is a tongue-in-cheek look at Southern football culture sprinkled with romantic comedy. Majors’ novel is not just for the fan of college football, but also for those who don’t think the game’s worth a bag of buttered popcorn.
By ZOLA TROUTMAN NOBLE My grandmothers wore an apron that covered nearly their whole dress, the kind of apron with a bib and wide over- or around-the-shoulders straps that joined in the back. It was an “old lady” apron, I thought. My mother wore short aprons that tied at the waist. Perhaps she thought this [...]
Harvest on the Honor System Pam Lee-Miller, of Lexington, Ky., snapped this shot on a Saturday afternoon drive to Reid’s Apple Orchard in Paris, Ky. She spotted the “self-serve” vegetable stand with an honor-box for payment. “In a world full of skepticism and mistrust, it was refreshing to find this simple reminder of days past,” [...]