Rite of Passage by Michelle Ivy Davis

Southern Legitimacy Statement: As someone who has almost always lived in the South (Southern Maryland, Southern India, Southern Florida and Southern California) I have these wonderful memories:

Our yard filled with lightening bugs, their twinkle lighting up the night. My sister and I caught them in jar, had my mother poke holes in the lid, and took them to our room to watch until we fell asleep. The next morning the magic was gone and they were just bugs. We let them go, only to repeat the process again that night.

I remember the twang and then bang of the screen door as we went in and out of the house a hundred times on summer days.

I always wrote thank you notes and still do. There’s something satisfying about a pretty little card and words of gratitude.

I remember when standing in front of a fan really did cool you off, even though the air coming from it was as hot as that the room. It was the humidity evaporating off my skin, y’all. And we opened the windows in the morning, only to close them and pull the curtains later to hold the “cooler” air in and keep the hot afternoon sun out.

Pulling off a honeysuckle blossom and sucking out the honey was heaven.

And the calming beauty of Spanish moss swaying in live oak trees? Only in the South.

Dilly Lee by Gaylynne Robinson

Maybe it’s a Texas thing, but whether I’m listening to guitar pickers under the big oak tree at Lukenbach on a Saturday afternoon, or cruising the aisles looking for bargains at Fredericksburg Market Days or watching fish jump in Oso Bay down in Corus Christi, or swimming at the dam in Hunt, Texas belongs to me, and I belong to it.

This is my kind of south. Now I once had a friend from Tennessee who disputed the “south-ness” of Texas. I will attest to its southwesterness, being just a couple of miles down the road from George Strait’s horse barn, but it’s south all right.

But Texas is “southern” in its love for land and its history.

In my south, you can trust a cowboy.

You can serve your company beans and jalapeño cornbread on your best China.

Saturday night’s for wearing your broken in boots to listen to Willie and dance at Floore’s Country Store.

In my south, people aren’t too busy to talk about nothing. You get the friendly finger wave driving down any country road and you can call up the corner grocery and ask if they have any fresh tamales.

In my south, we sit outside on the porch at Halloween and watch out for our neighbors’ kids.

In my south Texas sky, you can still see the ripe orange moon sitting pretty in a nest of stars.

We might laugh at ourselves during a watermelon seed spitting contest or a sandbelt tool race, but we love our flag and our earth and our “southern” way of life.
Gaylynne Robinson

Bill Prince: The Boy, The Buck Rabbit and the Beagles

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I am an eighth generation direct descendant of a 1740 immigrant who came to America as an indentured servant to the Trustees of the colony of Georgia. I was born in Valdosta, GA and have lived in either Georgia or South Carolina all my life. Reared and educated in South Carolina, I have been residing back in my native Georgia for over 50 years now. I am legitimately southern in my origin and life and lifestyle.

James K. Williamson: The Night I Saw Dwayne

We ask questions in Darlington County, S.C. and those questions are to make sure we’re not related, me and you. Porch nights in Oxford but only a few minutes over Barry Hannah’s grave. It’s hotter than hell and far. Mortician and poodle meet ups in Birmingham. Delirius drives from Little Rock to Asheville, you name it. I’m looking for a sawdust floor in New York City and someone to buy me a drink. I have carpal tunnel so you might have to lift the glass. Hey, I’m just glad to be here.

“Bushrod” by Andy Madden

Southern Legitimacy Statment:
I am a true son of the South. I was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. My mother once said to me that myself, Elvis, and US Highway 45 were the only three things that ever came out of Tupelo worth mentioning. I was raised in Corinth, Mississippi. I graduated from Corinth High School and ventured forth into the big world beyond Alcorn County in 1983.

I hunt and fish and purposely seek out mud holes to whip my pickup truck through, even though mud in California can some times be at a premium. I have a cousin named Larry Joe. I have been known to pick up fresh road kill on occasion. I believe barbequed Raccoon on a hot biscuit is one of life’s more special pleasures. I love my Mama and visit her twice a year no matter if I can afford to take the time away from my West Coast life or not.

I am Southern, first and foremost. Everything else is just, well…….extra.

What is the south coming to?

Help the best of “The South” stay as is. Let the bitter past be studied — not re-lived — and let us not seek to destroy a unique culture.

Andy Fogle : Edward, an essay

I was born Paul Andrew Fogle in Norfolk VA and grew up in Virginia Beach, and as far back as I know all but 2 threads of my family in the U.S. are from either Virginia or Mississippi: my paternal great grandfather was from Philadelphia and it is rumored that my maternal great grandfather “had people from Maine.”

As a Virginian since birth, I am fascinated by these two trickles of exotic Northern blood. As a temporary upstate New Yorker (10 years and running is temporary), I have noticed some quaint and backward ways amongst these people. They cannot seem to understand that I go by my middle name. I have signed work e-mails, “Andy” and have been replied to with “Thanks, Paul.” Forgive my mid-Atlantic superiority, but I consider this the height of ignorance.

I say “howdy” although none of my relatives ever have. I suppose I get that from the TV.

My high school students think my accent and yalling is cute. They think I drink moonshine and they’re right, at least they were twice in my life. My son once asked my wife if I spoke English. The main thrust behind this query was my pronouncing “ham” as if it had two syllables. Apparently the vowel in my pronunciation of “pie” is also alien. What does the boy want from me?

There is a devilishly good chicken place up here, started in 1938 by a woman from Louisiana. I hadn’t had my Mississippi grandmother’s fried chicken in years, and when I first had a bite of Hattie’s–by myself one cold rainy night–I almost cried it was so close. T

Katherine La Mantia “Vines”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: In elementary school, a boy named Jedediah taught me how to drink the nectar from the honeysuckle blossoms by pinching the end of the flower. My mother stared at me for a full three seconds the first time she ever heard me say “yall.” I stared at her even longer when I first heard her say it, too.

Running Water by Ted Harrison

SOUTHERN LEGACY STATEMENT: In my archives there is a picture of a young tyke sitting astride a mule—a live mule. The youngster is me; perhaps age 5. The mule was one of the pair my Grandfather owned: Bob and Mag. Poppa plowed those mules on his farm in Rowan County, North Carolina where he raised cotton, corn, wheat, and a vegetable garden that couldn’t be beaten.
Although I wasn’t raised on that farm, I was allowed to pick cotton in his fields. Rest assured as a young grade school kid, my bag wasn’t one of the big bags made up of two “tow bags” sewn end to end. Those bags stretched out along the rows as various family members pulled the white fibers from the bolls. As small as my bag was, I was never able to fill it. Poppa usually gave me a quarter for my meager efforts. He took the coin from his leather purse which he kept in the chest pocket of his overalls.
I have memories of him sitting in the “fire room” of the weather beaten farm house as he filled his pipe from his can of Prince Albert smoking tobacco, listening to Gabriel Heater on the radio during World War II.

Princess by Gardner Mounce

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I live in Memphis. It’s a wonderful town. I resent the Yankee preconception that Memphians have but a full set of teeth between them. We have many teeth. I have between fifteen and twenty, whatever’s the normal amount to have.

Rapid I Movement by Alexandra Edgeworth

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in Frederick, Maryland elementary, middle, and high schools, often finding myself visiting Baltimore to see the Ravens and read extensively on Poe. Everywhere else felt like an invasion until I moved to South Carolina to graduate from a Florence high school. I went to Francis Marion University for an undergrad in English and Coastal Carolina University for my Master’s in Writing. I currently enjoy teaching college literature in Beaufort, SC and cannot get enough of the eager, curious faces at the mention of “Lenore” and “The Case of M. Valdemar.”
I consider myself a writer of dark fantasy, though my nonfiction pieces borderline on the absurd and bizarre. As part of the Southern Gothic Revival I feel it is necessary to be positive in every aspect of my life, even when the deep southern Classics weep in their ledgers. We are a collective of strong, captivating people, I see it in my southern husband—all the loving and unique facets of the South: intelligent, rational, observant, collected, close, empathetic, and, of course, creative. My husband is my Gothic Muse and the South my office tucked away in the thick, old growth forests. We have great ancestral roots that wind their way freely into our lives, our families, at the dinner table during grace, and our imaginations.

In My South by M. David Hornbuckle

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I have lived in Birmingham, Alabama off and on my entire life, with brief stints in Mississippi, Florida, and New York City. The following essay is, in essence, an extended statement of my Southern legitimacy.