Publications

Essays

World Without End

Guernica 

Removing the promise of another world, the challenge of faith shifts: rather than waiting for some unseen world to take this one’s place, faith becomes seeing this world as singular and sacred. Perhaps Christ’s instruction to “stay awake” in Revelation is not about anticipating his impending return to Earth, but about remaining present, attentive to the world around us, finding God already thoroughly here.


The Charged World 

Image Journal  

Catherine’s house was just across the street from where the accident happened. From her living-room window she could see the overturned grain auger, the power line, the patches of grass still flattened from the weight of the boys’ bodies.


Writing that Hurts

The Rumpus

These objects taught Doty how to love the world, and his descriptions demonstrate his argument: that the language of ideas is “a phantom language, lacking in the substance of worldly things, those containers of feeling and experience, memory and time”; that memory does what art does, “which is to take the world within us and somehow make it ours”; that description, borne of outward attention to the world, ultimately gives us back ourselves.


Crying in Church

 Image Journal  

It should not surprise me, now, that my father seems so inseparable from the ritual of worship itself. But in the last year I’ve spent going to church, I’ve felt the rhythm of ritual becoming more persistent, insistent somehow, in my body, in my own burgeoning understanding of what faith might look like without my dad standing at the threshold and welcoming me inside.


The Last Time 

 Terrain.org

Each week, my father wrote his sermons at the dining room table with a worn Bible spread open before him, filling hundreds of notebooks with his tight, tiny script. Whenever I caught a glimpse of him hunched over his notebook, his work seemed as rare as dowsing, as specialized as horology, utterly mysterious to me.


Please Keep Doors Closed 

 Image Journal 

After the funeral, at my grandmother’s grave, a Methodist preacher wearing a rainbow-striped stole invited us to sing a hymn, Blessed be the Tie that Binds. When we sang what has always been my favorite line, “the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above,” it sounded like a far-off fantasy.


Articles

Memphis Burning 

Memphis Flyer 

The lynching of Ell Persons is a story no one told me about my home. I never heard Persons’ name in a history class or read about the lynching in a textbook. I first encountered Persons’ story in my own reading, years after I finished high school in Memphis and moved away for college. When I went looking for the site where Persons was lynched, there was nothing to suggest whether I was in the right place.


When a Green Book Site Goes Up For Sale 

The Atlantic's CityLab 

Despite new landscaping and sidewalks, Henry Street appears bombed out—deliberately attacked. Some Gainsboro residents think that is, in fact, the case—that the urban renewal projects which decimated the neighborhood were targeting Henry Street and the revenue of its black businesses. “This was war,” a community leader recently told me, “plain and simple.”


When Memphis Fell for a Pyramid Scheme

The Atlantic's CityLab 

Articles spanning the last 50 years of Pinch history often described it as on the cusp of something: The neighborhood was “making a modest comeback,” “slowly coming back to life,” “poised for a Renaissance,” “nearly dormant,” “once-thriving,” “coming back,” and “not dead yet.” But wherever the Pinch was headed, it never seemed to arrive.


The Economics of Lynching in Memphis

MLK50: Justice Through Journalism  

In the century following the People’s Grocery lynchings, violence and economics would become so entwined that today, they seem almost inseparable. Some of those lynched in Memphis and the surrounding area were people who dared to be their own boss, or to demand fair treatment, or who were so poor that they begged passersby for food. In many ways, these same people remain the most vulnerable today.


A Parable of Produce

Gravy Quarterly 

Meanwhile, the fruits and vegetables produced each year at David’s and Billy’s gardens would not be enough to feed the households in their own neighborhoods. Much of the yield of gardens like Billy’s and David’s is not measured: Before the food can be counted or weighed, it has already been whisked away to be cooked in the school cafeteria, carried home in children’s backpacks, or sold at farmers’ markets for next-to-nothing. Yet these small gardens are the ones I find myself rooting for. That begs a question: If we’re not measuring the amount of food produced in these gardens, and if gardening matters, how exactly does it matter?


Graphic Essays and Illustrated Journalism

To Save a Town ‘By the Grace of God’

The Atlantic's CityLab 

Even the Dead Could Not Stay 

The Atlantic's CityLab  

The Final Days of a Memphis Housing Project

 The Atlantic's CityLab 


Giving a Memphis Hero the Recognition He Deserves in 

The Atlantic's CityLab 

Portrait of a Vacant Lot

Ecotone Magazine, Issue 24


Consolation Puppies

 Granta

Doggamut

Ecotone Magazine , Issue 23

Interviews and Profiles: 

Jelani Cobb on Progress, Policy, and People of Conscience in MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

Where do we go from here? A Q&A with Journalist Jelani Cobb at Facing History and Ourselves 

The Ecstatic Vision of Sally Mann in The Hollins Critic 

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Interviews with Sally Mann and Karen Bender in Hollins Magazine 

The Way Life is Lived: a Profile of Mary Carter Bishop in Hollins Magazine

Shorter Works:

On Don’t You Ever: My Mother and Her Secret Son in The Kenyon Review 

Nonprofit Bakery to Experiment with a Living Wage in MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

CHOICES Chooses a Living Wage in MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

Hard History: The Lynching Sites Project in The Memphis Flyer

Deer Season in The Common

What’s Left in Paper Darts Magazine 

Animal Heart in Ghost Proposal

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