Through stories and food, Zaring’s ‘Flavors from Home’ shows common bonds among people of all races, cultures

“Flavors from Home evolved out of my wish to share some delicious, unique ethnic recipes and to document what I had experienced during the potlucks at the school where I taught English to refugees. At these potlucks, people from all different races, faiths, nationalities, ethnicities, and social statuses gathered together around food, and I witnessed firsthand the melting away of all the outward and superficial barriers that tend to divide people.” -Aimee Zaring

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Reckoning These Ruins: White Silence, White Structure, and Regard for Black Lives

Far too many black lives have been violently disregarded, murderously disregarded, by the white structure. As a white man, I have nothing to add, nothing to write, to make the truth of this any stronger. I can say, however, that I am listening to that truth as so many have expressed it. I can say that I am trying to learn from such listening, to act upon such learning. I can say, as one who has been absorbed by the structure, as one who has been assumed content to be part of the structure, as one who once was content to be part of the structure because I was unaware of it and didn’t need to be aware of it, as one who has benefited from the structure, as one whose silence the structure welcomes and upon whose silence the structure depends, as one who looks like the structure and is expected to carry on the legacy of the structure, as one who could fade into the structure—I can say that this structure is really a ruin.

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Float On: Keeping My Head above Water at Forecastle

Through the festival gates, rough waters lay ahead of me. The port-a-potty was more like a THC sauna, as I must’ve slipped in right after a patron who hot-boxed a doob. From the smell of it, Louisville seemed to be chiefing on dirt weed, but every once in a while, it reeked like I was on a Bullitt County back road and somebody had trampled a skunk. It may be hard for a person without the addict gene to comprehend, but one drink or drug can send a person such as myself on a wild spree where by the end of the night, I’ll be saying, “I must’ve taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.”

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Why I Garden: I hate getting started, but dirty nails fit me, and the sight of new vegetables make me weep

I moan over the prospect of starting seedlings or prepping the ground. In fact, this is why I started “The Lazy Gardener” column a few years back, to share—or should I say reveal?—my most private vegetable-growing secrets: that I’m a wimp when it comes to weeding; that I surrender at the first sign of aphids, blame the weather or the wildlife for my unsuccessful yields; that my garden would not be possible without someone else’s prodding.

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Announcing the 2014 Literary Contest Winners …

Our 2014 literary contest winners have been selected and notified. Finalists have been notified by email. Winners, finalists and semifinalists are listed below. Many thanks to all our contest participants. It was a tough competition in all three categories, and we were stunned by the poems, essays, and stories we received.

Thank you to our readers, Bobbi Buchanan, Cecilia Woloch, Christopher Martin, D. Cameron Lawrence, and Michael Jackman, and to our final judges, Steven R. Cope in poetry, Charles Dodd White in fiction, and Dianne Aprile in nonfiction.

Winners, finalists and semifinalists will appear in The New Southerner Literary Edition, which will be available online and in print in December.

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There’s a Song in It

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.

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‘Holy’ Socks! Here’s the solution to all those holey ones—maybe

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.

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Means as an End: Musician’s mandate is evolve or die

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.

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