Deep South

Foster Dickson is a writer, editor, and teacher in Montgomery, Alabama. His work has centered on the arts & humanities, education, and social justice in the American South, with special attention to telling neglected or forgotten stories. His current projects are two online anthologies that are now accepting submissions: level:deepsouth about the lives and experiences of Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, and Nobody’s Home: Modern Southern Folklore about the prevailing beliefs, myths, and narratives in Southern culture since 1970.

Foster’s published books include I Just Make People Up: Ramblings with Clark Walker and The Life and Poetry of John Beecher, as well as the edited collection Children of the Changing South, which contains memoirs by eighteen writers and historians who grew up in the South during and after the Civil Rights movement. Foster also acted as general editor for the curriculum guide Treasuring Alabama’s Black Belt. His most recent book is Closed Ranks, which tells the latter-day story of the Whitehurst Case, a police-shooting controversy in Montgomery, Alabama in the mid-1970s. You can also read Foster’s interview with Kentucky poet Ron Whitehead in Evergreen Review issue #110, or an excerpt from Foster’s review of Michael Kreyling’s The South That Wasn’t There in the Summer 2012 issue of Callaloo.

To learn more about Foster’s writing and editing work that centers on the American South, click the red link below:

Nobody’s Home  •  level:deepsouth

Patchwork  •  Chasing Ghosts  •  Southern Movies

from Welcome to Eclectic

“‘Before some ol’ fool comes around here'”
published November 2019
“What is impressive about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lyrics is the gutsy and forthright way that the songs reply to  people who hurt others and who hamper our ability to lead a decent life. ”

“And he said, My name’s Johnny and it might be a sin . . .”
published October 2019
“Though I’m an avid music fan with eclectic taste, I’ve never heard anything like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The song’s mixture of country and bluegrass with rock that gets a little funky creates a shape-shifting style that allows a story to unfold.”

“‘My Source for Some Definitive’: 30 Years since ‘Closer to Fine'”
published April 2019
“Though it never reached the top-ten on the Billboard charts, that album’s first single ‘Closer to Fine’ may be one of the most influential songs from Generation X.”

“The Pascagoula Abduction, 1973”
published October 2018
“Forty-five years ago today, on October 11, 1973, two men named Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker reported to local sheriffs that they had been abducted by aliens while fishing on the Pascagoula River in southern Mississippi.”

“The Orangeburg Massacre, 1968”
published October 2018
“Given its name by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader H. Rap Brown, the Orangeburg Massacre occurred in Orangeburg, South Carolina after a group of students from two historically black colleges in the area – South Carolina State and Claflin – attempted to integrate a local bowling alley that declared itself a private, members-only establishment— which was an obvious front that meant ‘Whites Only.’”

The Winding Back Roads of Southern History
published August 2018
“Beyond the Alabamians who don’t know their own history, outsiders have even more trouble seeing how Alabama can be “the Beautiful” when their all-interstate, urban-centered treks carry them to site after site of violence upon violence: slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement— ugly, ugly, and more ugly.” (1,123 words)

Field Trips to Nowhere
published April 2018
“The young lady had set me up perfectly: they were seeing precisely what I wanted them to see, learning precisely what I wanted to learn about this isolated locale. To gain a sense of place, they needed to experience firsthand what was here— by their standards, nothing.” (2,022 words)

“Doug Jones, Alabama, and a Different Kind of Electorate”
published December 2017
“In Alabama, we’ve lived with political dysfunction and severe poverty for most of our history, but recently, our political and economic degradation was put on display daily and worldwide. The national media spared no expense in airing our dirty laundry for us.”

“THE Rivalry”
published December 2017
“Despite the fact that Auburn and Alabama have strong football programs with rich histories, some mythic aspects of the tradition have left the earthly realm and moved into territory occupied predominantly by giants, angels, and unicorns.”

“And then there were none.”
published April 2017
“If this has ever happened in this way in American history – in any state – I can’t find the person who can tell me about it. And despite all of the talk, I also can’t find anyone who can tell me what this means for Alabama . . . there are only about 4.7 million of us who would like to know.”

“I didn’t know I was miserable until Gallup told me I was.”
published March 2017
“I’ve long known that we have problems down here, but miserable? Are we miserable, really?”

“For job creation, local is better.”
published April 2016
“In the eighty years since 1936, this unfortunate modus operandi for decreasing the South’s interminable poverty has yielded its fair share of negative results, prime among them the consequence of having our natural and human resources exploited and the profits shipped elsewhere in the country.”

“Bad News Times Three, Alabama”
published July 2015
This study may have found Alabama to be second lowest, but I’m not sure that means people don’t like Alabama. Just me, I can’t accept that blanket conclusion from this study.”


This series explores lesser-known events and people in Alabama history, and it encourages engagement with local and state history and with topics described in historical markers.

Isaac Ross, 1764 – 1821
Richard Tyler, 1816 – 1877
Jim, d. 1854
JW Dickson, 1854 – 1921
John Asa Rogers, 1853 – 1908
The Murder of Sloan Rowan, 1912
The Abolishment of Macon County, 1957
Fr. Michael Caswell, 1909 – 1971
Pardoning Clarence Norris, 1976
30 Years since Baxley-Graddick, 1986
The First Iron Bowl in Auburn, 1989
The House of Judah, 1991
Wedowee, 1994
The “Politics of Embarrassment,” 1998
Eugene Walter, 1921 – 1998
Revisiting Mr. Rice (The House of Crosses)

Disrupters & Interlopers

This series highlights lesser-known individuals from Southern history whose actions, though unpopular or difficult, contributed to changing the old status quo. To read previous posts, click any of the red names below:

Modjeska Simkins
Theresa Burroughs
Bayard Rustin
Clement Wood
Charles Gomillion
Myles Horton
Golden Frinks
James Saxon Childers
Will D. Campbell
Joan Little
Ralph McGill

Juliette Hampton Morgan
Clifford Durr


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