The Gift of Sight

Until recently, I could never have been an artist. My chronic short sight would have been beyond correction. Without glasses, my focal point lies, with my left eye firmly shut to let my right one see, at the tip of my nose. I would have been, as was recently pointed out to me, fully dependent on others, a beggar if I had been poor. But I was born in a century where my sight could be treated, and I’ve beenRead more

Misogyny

Even by the standards of the genre, ‘Pretty Polly’ is a menacing murder ballad. It’s the tone of the young man’s voice. “You guessed about right,’ he replies to Polly’s concerns about his manner, “I dug on your grave the best part of last night.” Her submissive replies only make the song more chilling. They act out parts written long before them. Even though he murders her in an act of control, Willy’s crime seems the only choice left toRead more

Silver Dagger

A faded red barn in Madison County, its sides hung with raccoon skins. The nailed pelts remind me of the sinister French fairy story ‘Bluebeard’- a Breton folk tale that, like many of the ballads, has its source in an actual crime. The young, new wife disobeys Bluebeard’s warning to never enter one locked room in his castle. When curiosity overcomes her, she finds a room scarlet with blood and the hanging corpses of her husband’s past wives. But theRead more

‘I HAVE LED YOU’ (PROVERBS 4:11)

In The Spring of 2013, I conducted a series of interviews at a women’s shelter in Asheville. I was interested in documenting real stories relating to the South’s ‘culture of honor’ and how it had directly affected women’s lives. There were certain recurring patterns. There was a repeating male type- the young man who is both sensitive and macho. The poet/musician/rebel. Such a person is at first in thrall to their partner. This dependency quickly leads to jealousy, suspicion and a needRead more