The Delta and Writing True StoriesPosted: May 22, 2012
When I was ten and riding in the back seat of Dad’s Ford on Highway 61 out of Memphis…
Suddenly, from the top of a ridge, the road went down—straight down into unending flatness. That last hill always caused a stir in me, a funny feeling in my stomach. I believed Almighty God started digging here and scooped out a big basin of rich land so farmers could plant cotton and kids could grow up looking at it.
The Delta began here. It was bordered on the east by the Yazoo River, born of the confluence of the Tallahatchie and Yalobusha near Greenwood, and on the west by Old Man River, who “must know somethin, but he dont say nothin, he jes keeps rollin along.”
Cotton fields stretched out before us all the way to the end of the sky. The fields parted just enough for a road to pass through. Highway 61 cut straight down through Delta cotton—two lanes with just enough room for two cars to pass, one going north, one going south. The whole earth outside my window was cotton. Row after row, pressed against the road, running all the way to where the earth stopped and the blue of heaven started. Nothing but cotton as far as I could see and I could see maybe fifty miles. I smelled the dirt, I smelled the green, I felt the hum of growing things. I thought it was mine, all mine, because I was born of it. When it was cotton-pickin time in the fall and the fields were white, I knew God was on his throne and all was right with the world. …
COME TO THE DELTA! COME TO CLARKSDALE! COME TO CREATIVE NONFICTION AT THE CROSSROADS!
Neil White will be teaching a workshop on writing true stories, September 21-22 at Shack Up Inn. Message me for more details!
COME AND EXPERIENCE ALL THAT IS — OR WAS — THE DELTA.