Lit with a southern accent
I’ve lived on the Florida peninsula for almost two decades. It’s a trope that a tiny fraction of that is enough to qualify one as a naturalized citizen. I’ve spent time with fourth- and fifth-generation Floridians, though. These people’s people endured floods, sleeping without air conditioning, mosquito control that consisted of a switch fashioned of palm fronds, and the onslaught of feckless northerners looking to cash in on their Disney dreams. Self-proclaimed Florida crackers are tough cookies and tend to suffer us fools if not gladly, then with laconic indulgence.
Any claim I could make to southernness would be tenuous at best. Yet sometimes my literary approach to certain themes positively drips with Spanish moss. A friend recently remarked that upon previewing a new flash fiction piece for me, “I went right into a southern accent.”
Naturally I was delighted, but I also became curious about the journals out there that specialize in southern literature and southern writers. The always fabulous Review Review has a fine list. Of course, it’s not comprehensive, and neglects to mention remarkable places like the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature – come for the lit, stay for the Southern Legitimacy Statements by the authors, always entertaining. But it’s good to be reminded that lit with a southern accent continues to be celebrated and showcased with deserved prominence, even if Toad Suck Review seems to be defunct?! Oh no!
In the winter I sleep under the stars while bull gators ripple the creek with their subsonic bellows. Swamp water courses through my veins. The pulse of tree frogs and cicadas tick off expanding eternities since the original people, the Calusa, ruled so capably over their civilization, right here, thousands of years ago, effectively repelling the Spanish for generations. Relatively speaking, I guess we’re all newcomers wherever we end up. It’s fun to play with that tension in our prose. Which pieces and journals do that remarkably well for you?