"Little Steele / Christmas Day, 2006," from Into the flatland
You are from Mississippi—then you left and decided to come back. What did you learn about your home after you returned after years away?
I’m still leaving and coming back.
When I first returned after graduate school, I spent two years on the farm trying to immerse myself in my grandmother’s experience of living there for 50 years. I read her writing, dressed in her clothes, and ate from her china. I was 25 years old and trying to map out the rest of my adult life. In her letters, my grandmother had this way of making everything seem more intense—more poignant. I sought a similar experience, and I found it was difficult to access the same level of poetry in my own life on the farm. To be honest, it was pretty lonely.
Read the rest of managing editor Eliza Borné’s interview with Kathleen Robbins.
Read the rest of Kristen Radtke’s book review of Merritt Tierce’s Love me Back.
Merritt Tierce contributed to our fall issue with Solitaire.
"USA Manchester, Tennessee. June 10-13, 2010," by Jim Goldberg.
The students who work at the body farm are described as being predominately female. Was this at all surprising? Do you have any thoughts as to why this is the case?
I was completely surprised. It was soskewed in favor of these female grad students and undergrads. I think I saw, at most, a total of three men the entire time I was on the grounds. And I think that’s terrific. In general, there’s so much talk of how men are dominating the sciences, and here I was at what you would assume would be more of a “macho” kind of science facility—in terms of the sheer amount of up-to-your-elbows gore and hands-on work with cadavers involved—and it was wall-to-wall women. And not only women, but youngwomen, many of them in ponytails and sporty clothing, like the most average, upbeat, all-American students. And they did not flinch.
Read the rest of managing editor Eliza Borné’s interview with Alex Mar, author of Sky Burial from our fall issue.
“Untitled, 1976-77,” by Jo Ann Callis; Courtesy of the artist and ROSEGALLERY
Angelique is on Facebook. Martine knows her last name because he puts everyone’s last name in his phone. Angelique is beautiful. She has that redbone skin and a lot of very white teeth. Her sons are tall and have closed masculine looks inside their boyish faces. She’s in one of his graduate classes and when his dad died she sent him a scented note of condolence so he invited her over and slept with her.
From our fall issue, Solitaire by Merritt Tierce
Against Football is available from Melville House
These days football gives tribute to war and vice versa. No wonder so many modern games feature color guards, band salutes “to the troops” and F-22 flyovers. On this note, Almond quotes George Orwell: “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in violence. In other words, it is war without shooting.”
Read the rest of Diane Roberts’s book review here.
Now available from Yale University Press
Over the years, Marcus has only gotten better at answering his own question—how must the musician have felt at that moment?—and more assured at describing the experience of listening. His prose, steeped in the disparate languages of academia, prophecy, and record reviews, has always been the fun part, and a few of the essays here mark some of his most vivid, brilliant work in years. His piece on Marclay’s Guitar Dragis a historical puzzle, pulling together a set of works in different mediums alongside musings on violence, noise, and history so that they all seem to belong together cleanly and absolutely.
Read the rest of Will Stephenson’s book review.
Photo credit: Reto Sterchi
How do you sit down and write a country song with the intention of conveying your wide influences?
Well, writing the songs is always just me on the couch with an acoustic but, once you get in the studio, it’s all about serving the songs and using the tools you have available to maximize the sonic landscape that they live in. For the songs that were more grounded in Tibetan Buddhism and the human psychedelic experience, it gave us this wide-open palette to use techniques that maybe Pink Floyd would’ve used in the Sixties, but on a country song, which, to me, is a great challenge. It’s fascinating because I’ve never heard a country record that I love really do that. So, to me and my producer Dave Cobb, there was this whole world of possibility. Especially now, because country is so bland, there can just be so much exploration. Any good music is soul music.
Read the rest of Aaron Frank’s interview with Simpson Sturgill here.
"Passing Through—60 minutes in Foster City, California," by Ajay Malghan
Now it is May of 2014, and I am removing Patty’s bones from a long cardboard box. Here are the pieces that made up her arms: the humerus, the ulna, the radius that was fractured. Here are the halves of her pelvic bone, each ilium curved like a dish. Her vertebrae have been collected in a pile; her individual ribs are banded together with a Velcro tie. I remove her skull and cradle it, upside down, in the palm of my hand, where it fits perfectly. Without the jawbone, I can see her dental work clearly: two large gold molars, a bridge, and two porcelain crowns. When she’s turned upright to face me, I can also see the markings in her orbital bones, around her sockets.
Read the rest of Alex Mar’s piece, from our latest issue.