I’m proud to say that my entry on Agrarian critic and writer Andrew Lytle is now online on the Encyclopedia of Alabama. In previous years, I had written the entries on fiction writer Mary Ward Brown and poet John Beecher, and I’m quite pleased to have written this entry on Lytle, whose essay “The Hind Tit” appeared in the 1930 I’ll Take My Stand collection.
The EOA, as the encyclopedia is often called, is a wonderful resource on Alabama’s history and culture. Anyone who hasn’t browsed through the site will be pleasantly surprised that our state is so much greater than we might assume it is.
Last April marked seven years that I had been writing my blog, Pack Mule for the New School. The blog, whose subtitle has long been “Deep Southern, Diversified,” is getting something of a makeover . . . which is really more of an effort to get focused than anything else. Where Pack Mule for the New School has been the place where I’ve let my mind wander about anything from the ups and downs of Auburn football to thoughts on reading the Great Works of Western literature, the blog will now feature posts only on the culture of the Deep South, the arts & humanities, education, and social justice (particularly voting rights, racial justice, food equity, and access to information)— a wide enough berth, I hope, but also focused enough to keep me reined in.
Since May, Pack Mule for the New School had featured one (somewhat) new series of recurring posts called “the #newschool.” Posts in that series are published on the first and third Sundays of each month. Although the Deep South is notoriously conservative, “the #newschool” suggests some ideas for how we can make some progress. Subjects so far have included taking bipartisan action on climate change, thinking critically to combat “fake news,” having solution-oriented perspectives, learning about civics, looking forward with a respect for the past, opening our minds to opposing viewpoints, and honoring our laborers.
Moving into the next who-knows-how-many years with Pack Mule for the New School, I’ve added one more component to the subtitle: “Deep Southern, Diversified & Re-Imagined.” I’ve learned over the years that pointing out the negative accomplishes almost nothing. “Raising awareness,’ as people call it, does little more than that: OK, I’m aware of it . . . Now what? Actually taking positive action to change bad situations is what. Re-imagining Pack Mule for the New School is about just that: moving beyond the awareness of what’s wrong and asking what we all can do to improve it.