Have you ever sang Sacred Harp music? Jumped into a pool far out of your depth? Have you stood in the Mississippi sun for hours on end for jug of famous juice? Shot BB's at a neighbor you suspect to be a no-good scalawag? Have you scribbled masterpieces in ball-point pen at work or fired clay plucked fresh from the Delta? Have you confronted your faith lately, or sized up the South in all its misunderstood glory?
If not, or if so, welcome to the 2017 Spring issue of Populi Magazine. Founded around a koi pond outside the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at Ole Miss, Populi seeks to provoke and curate the inexhaustible voice of Oxonians as a forum for cultural dialogue and a venue for contemporary art and literature.
The featured piece in this issue follows one such Oxonian on his path to reconcile his faith, his art, and his identity. Jonathan Kent Adams' story sheds light on the nuances of Southern culture as he exhibits resilience and artistic freedom in the face of prejudice and misunderstanding. Accompanying Beau Brawner's interview with this rising star is a mosaic of critical thought, illuminating fiction, genre-bending literature, and cultural commentary. I hope you enjoy the poetic and intellectual musings of our brilliant contributors.
This issue marks my last at the helm of Populi, and I couldn't have asked for a better collection of writing and artwork to go out on, nor a more skilled group of editors to which I may pass the torch. Thank you to Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzales for your continued support, to our many contributors who have allowed us to publish their work, and most importantly, to our readers. You are the foundation on which this publication rests, and I encourage you to share your own inexhaustible voice - that strange, persistent vox populi that keeps our town ever-enchanting, ever-progressing, ever...Oxford.
Farewell, and enjoy.
Yours, Jesse Webb
Jesse Webb Editor-in-Chief
Katherine Sistrunk Managing Editor
Thomas Moorman Copy Editor
Maggie Smith Beau Brawner Hailey McKee Bethany Fitts Contributing Editors
Jaz Brisack Corey Davis Timber Heard Emily Hector Conor Hultman Anne Louise Jackson Jacob Lovett Evan Massey Laurel Peek Libby Tyson Jon Luke Watts
The 37th annual Oxford Sacred Harp singing brought people from all walks of life together to revisit an age old Southern tradition
...Rows of chairs are arranged to form a square; the singers sit separated by vocal types. After each number, someone steps up to lead the next song. These leaders appear to exhort the audience, bending toward certain sections, beckoning the harmonizing voices higher. Couples, and even entire families, rise and lead together. Holding the songbook in their left hand, they conduct with a precise up-and-down motion of the right arm, punctuated with flicks of the wrist...
Satterfield's Pottery brings Delta earth to North Mississippi
...Shelves in Satterfield’s gallery are divided by each of his original collections: gumbo, indigo, river bottom, Hotty Toddy, pistachio, and creamstout.
He devotes the last wall to his favorite, one-of-a-kind pieces that he claims he will never sell. The small amount of wall space not filled with original pottery is reserved for an old-fashioned refrigerator containing Coke products in glass bottles, which Satterfield feels adds to the ambiance of the gallery.
In addition to The Basement Gallery on the Oxford Square, his work can be found in various shops in Mississippi. His pieces are sold in The Wooden Door in Hernando and Olive Branch, The Commons in Cleveland, Katherine Beck in Oxford and The Crown in Indianola...
A grandson visits grandma at her perch from which she combats her pesky neighbors with a BB gun and decries the scalawags in her own backyard.
...I'm not sure why I come here. Grandma rarely talks to me. When she does, it's mostly about the Civil War (or, the "War of Northern Aggression"). She says she's directly related to General Nathan Bedford Forrest. One time, she told me in a haunted tone, "I guess I can trust you ain't a scalawag," and then she took the package of Fig Newtons I was proffering. She boils the water she gets from the bathroom tap burner in her room. She told me it was because the Yankees could defecate in the water supply and send it down the pipes to cultivate cholera. "But Grandma," I said, "the Civil War is over." She narrowed her eyes to slits. "That war ain't never over."
She pulls out a handkerchief and polishes the gun as silence seals in like compression.
"So, um, how's the picture window today?"
"Fine. Killed a weasel. Killed the buzzard that came fer it. Glaring of cats carried them away. Killing a vole."
I look toward the Dixons' house and spy a small circular hole in their window.
"Grandma, did you shoot at the neighbors' house?"...
Local Oxford artist Jonathan Kent Adams examines his two greatest loves: art and faith
Self-acceptance has taken time for the young artist. He reached out to those familiar with issues of faith, specifically professors on campus, who recommended books to help deepen his understanding of religion and sexuality. During an internship in New York City, Nathan saw a gay couple in the congregation of a Catholic church he attended that summer. After years of searching for how to reconcile what seemed like an impossible intersection, he found the perfect example of why faith and the LGBTQ community are not mutually exclusive. “There are still times I struggle with thinking like that,” he smiled wryly. “But then I remember this is who you are Nathan, calm down.”
The Buzzcracker field juice stand asks for a pricey toll
...The salesman smacked his lips. “How many you need?”
Juantonya traced the splinters in the wooden counter with her eyes. “Seven.”
A grin sliced across his mouth as he reached down and came back up shaking a milk canister the height of her bug-bitten shin. It banged against the counter, its tin surface sizzling in the afternoon sun. “All payments be in liquid,” he stated. His one shaky hand slithered back down. “Bloodsucker!” Juantonya shrieked at him, knifing a pointed finger at his foxy smile. “’Skeeter! Leech! You’re not getting my blood! No sir, I ain’t selling my soul over! No sir, I been standing out here since the change of the planets! I’ve rambled miles to get here! My body’s meltin’ off me, my mind feels dehydrated, I’m ‘bout to collapse of heat exhaustion, you smile like the devil, I got plow scars on my hands that I try to smear over with mud, I got cheated to go here, and I’m near about at the end of my rope with this...
It has been brought to our attention that your daughter draws images of animals and trees in a sketchbook during her math lesson. The notebook has been confiscated and may be picked up on Friday as long as your daughter discontinues this distraction.
“It helps me focus, though. I’m paying attention.” Education is our highest priority....
Genre-bending pieces crafted in MS Poet Laureate Beth Ann Fennelly's Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College class
"...In the last several years, I’ve become increasingly interested in cross-genre works that blend inheritances from multiple literary parents. In our heterogeneous landscape, such hard-to-define pieces have a new urgency and popularity. Because I wanted to study them further, and I wanted to do with the bright minds of the SMBHC students at my side, I developed a new class on hybrid literature. Nine
intrepid students put themselves in my hands and we read some pretty nutty stuff that allowed us to become familiar with the history and possibilities of various hybrid forms, including short-form nonfiction, flash fiction, prose poems, lyric essays, and forms that are hard to label."
"I decided to teach the class as a true hybrid not only in subject matter but in approach as well, so in addition to reading the individual works, we adapted some techniques from the creative writing workshop, writing zuihitsu (a Japanese form of “flowing ink” or “random” writing that incorporates lists and hermit crab hybrids (a piece of literature that borrows the shell from a non-literary source, as Conor Hultman did in his piece that takes the shape of a crossword) and others. In addition to papers, students produced a short portfolio of genre-busting hybrid work...
...I stood there for a moment with all of my fears. Things I was scared of. Fearing that she’d leave me if I don’t climb. I kick off my boots and put them in the grass. They’ll only make it harder. I made my way up the tall green chain link fence in my socks. The stars stared back at me as I climbed. I counted them in the attempt to make my fear of heights go away. Fifteen, I say to myself, trembling. I swing my leg over the top. My foot searches, then catches a nice spot in the fence and I begin to climb down to her.
“See,” Angela says. “It’s not so bad.”
Yes it is, I think to myself.
When my foot touches the concrete I let out a long breath. I put my two feet on the ground then turn toward Angela. She plants a kiss on my cheek. I blush. I do more than blush. She takes my hand and pulls me. She pulls me and we walk to the deep end of the pool. I stare at the water as Angela leads. The water is dark and I begin to remember. This time will be different, I think to myself. Nothing will happen this time...
Examining the lives of George Wallace, Bear Bryant, and Ronnie Van Zant against the backdrop of the post-Civil Rights Act South
...The lives of the three “great” Alabama icons draw, together, a sort of road map into the southern white psyche as it developed in response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For the first time since the Civil War, white southerners were forced to reassess their identity in relation to a rapidly modernizing social, political, and environmental landscape. The responses to this gravitational shift by the government, universities, and the music industry reveal a fascinating duality that I will argue is inherent in Southern American culture.
George Wallace’s late-in-life political backtracking, Bear Bryant’s difficult relationship with integration in college football, and Ronnie Van Zant’s appropriation of confederate symbols during the seminal years of southern rock illustrate the dualism of southern culture as it evolved in the late 20th century...