Issue 113: Summer Place Issue
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The Oxford American’s Summer 2021 issue is dedicated to an examination of place.
In essays, short stories, and poems, more than a dozen writers from throughout the region mine the relationship between the lived experience and the built experience. While considering manmade Lake Lanier just outside Atlanta, a barrier chain of disappearing islands in the Gulf, and a series of unlikely World War II interactions in middle Tennessee, our writers ask: What is it about a space that creates feeling, memories, a history for those who occupy it?
Contributors include memoirist Garrard Conley, who visits folk-artist Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in Pennville, Georgia in search of wonder; Whiting winner Vanessa Angélica Villarreal on her father, a cumbia and jazz guitarist from the Texas borderlands who played with Selena; and scholar of Appalachia Amy D. Clark who exhumes oral histories to tell the real-life story of the Carter Family song “The Cyclone of Rye Cove.” Acclaimed novelists Anjali Enjeti and Ladee Hubbard and the new Poet Laureate of Virginia, Luisa A. Igloria, are also featured.
In addition to work from frequent OA contributors such as James Seay and Leslie Pariseau, the issue includes a number of writers making their debuts in the magazine. Neesha Powell-Twagirumkiza reports on water pollution and subsistence fishing in coastal Georgia, and Lauren Stroh remembers the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta in Louisiana. Writers Indya Finch and Mikeie Honda Reiland publish their first ever magazine stories in the issue.
The issue also includes work by visual artists Wesley Allsbrook, Keamber Pearson, and Martha Park, whose illustrated essay on Memphis’s Mud Island considers how human beings have infringed upon the natural environment to create our cities. Dinorá Justice’s Collage 18-03 - after Matisse's "Yellow Odalisque 1937" covers the issue. The work is from a series of portraits in which the artist re-imagines “iconic female figures of the Western canon by painters such as Matisse and Ingres,” she writes, alongside images from nature to make a statement about exploitation, consumption, and ecological degradation.
“I believe that my presence in Pennville, Georgia, that February afternoon,” Garrard Conley remembers of his visit to Howard Finster’s outdoor installations, “had less to do with torturing myself than with searching for this path to beauty in a broken world.” In this issue, contributors examine the ways in which our sense of place intersects with issues of identity, using music, art, history, and the natural world to illuminate a path of insight toward a much improved future.
Copies of the place issue will mail to subscribers and customers who pre-order on May 18, 2021. The issue will be available on newsstands on June 1, 2021.