Words, Gorgeous Words

The writer who took us to “Paradise” two years ago returns to Salvation South.

Just a handful of months after we unveiled Salvation South in 2021, the first draft of an unsolicited essay arrived. It had a one-word title: “Paradise.”

This was the writer's cover note: “Last fall the woods around my home in rural Georgia were clear cut—110 acres. ‘Paradise’ tells the story of my journey through the assault of the logging and my subsequent reluctant education: what I learned and what I lost. The overnight erasure of beloved landscapes is tracked through rage, guilt, regret, grief, and a glimpse of acceptance. As I struggle to connect to the loggers themselves, I look to the trees for guidance.”

I was intrigued, then I opened it. I almost skipped reading it, because it was almost 9,000 words long. But I read the first 300 words and couldn’t put it down. “Paradise” was a beautifully written account of two years in Sybil Rosen’s life, during which she watched the hundred-acre wood around her home of many years being ground into matchsticks.

So when Sybil got in touch early this year to say she might have another story to send our way, I got excited. That story, “Sweet Tea With Emily Dickinson,” is our lead feature this weekend. You’re certain to love her account of how she and a plucky gang of women from her little hometown of Whitesburg, Georgia, teamed up to save their public library by staging performances in which Sybil starred as New England poet whose work never got noticed until after she had died.

And for the occasion, we’ve given “Paradise” a graphic facelift, to better showcase Sybil’s words and the haunting photographs that Kaylinn Gilstrap contributed to accompany them.

Also this week, Cherokee novelist Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle returns to Salvation South with another lesson in the lore of her tribe called “The Bear Essentials.” Gary Grossman, the professor/poet whose recent “Will the Rivers Still Run?” explained the ecology of the rivers of the Blue Ridge Mountains joins us again with a poem that praises the arrival of spring.

This Week-01

—“Sweet Tea With Emily Dickinson”: Sybil Rosen recruits a Connecticut poet for Southern purposes
—“The Bear Essentials”: Cherokee lore from Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle
—“Leaf Out”: poet Gary Grossman welcomes spring
—“Paradise”: Rosen's first story for Salvation South

Please remember we can bring you all this wonderful writing because readers like you support us, by joining our Family Circle and by shopping in the Salvation South Store or the Salvation South Bookshop. If you have not yet considered doing any of those three, we sure would appreciate your patronage.

Y’all have a dandy spring weekend.

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Author Profile

Chuck Reece is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Salvation South, the weekly web magazine you're reading right now. He was the founding editor of The Bitter Southerner. He grew up in the north Georgia mountains in a little town called Ellijay.

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