by Erin Z. Bass
33 Southern Cities Listed As "Top 100 Places To Live."
RelocateAmerica has released its list of the "Top 100 Places To Live," and 33 Southern cities made the cut for 2010. According to the RelocateAmerica website, these are communities "poised for recovery and future growth." These cities were chosen for their strong local leadership, employment opportunities, thriving community commitment, improving real estate markets, growing green iniatives, plentiful recreational options and overall high quality of life. To sum it up, these places are moving in the right direction!
Some of these cities have also been included in RelocateAmerica's "Breakout Lists." Making it even more attractive, Huntsville, Alabama, is also listed as a "Top 10 Overall City," "Earth-Friendly City" and "Recovery City," Dallas and Austin, Texas, are considered good cities for singles and young professionals; Valdosta, Georgia, McAllen, Texas, Greenville, South Carolina, and Tampa, Florida, are affordable cities; and Fairhope, Alabama, St. Augustine, Florida, and Peachtree City, Georgia, are noted as "Top 10 Small Towns."
Top Places To Live in the South
Hot Springs Village
Photos (top to bottom): Knoxville riverboat courtesy of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development; downtown Fairhope; Huntsville cityscape; Converse Dalton
by Erin Z. Bass
New Orleans Tennessee Williams Festival Named A Top Literary Festival in North America.
Only a few days after the close of New Orleans' 24th annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, which drew close to 10,000 people to New Orleans at the end of March and broke an attendance record, the event was named one of the "Top Literary Festivals in North America." The blog RatesToGo.com listed the festival in the company of San Francisco's Litquake, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York City, saying, "The Big Easy has a prominent literary and cultural landscape, which the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival celebrates in style every year."
Next year would have been the 100th birthday of playwright Tennessee Williams, so the festival is going all out to celebrate, but this year was no less exciting, from the quality of writers presented to the volume of shouting in the closing Stanley & Stella Shouting Contest. Below are a few of our favorite moments from this year, and a full retrospective of highlights since the first festival in 1987 can be found on the festival website.
Hearing Dave Eggers speak in a
The following poem was the winning entry in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama's contest in celebration of National Poetry Month in April.
by Denise McKinney of Selma, Alabama
Gulf Shores is my favorite place
Such a friendly, pretty, open space
Beautiful beaches, waves and sunsets
Having to leave will be your only regrets
Looking forward to my return
Swimming, tanning and even the sun burn
Gulf Shores is my favorite town
Fun during the day and when the lights go down
So come for a visit
You don't want to miss it
White sandy beaches
Warm rays of sun
Gulf Shores has all of the family fun!
by Erin Z. Bass
Those of you who follow Deep South on Facebook and/or Twitter know that I had a whirlwind tour of Alabama last week while attending Travel South USA in Birmingham. The only regional tourism show focused solely on the southern United States, Travel South invites the "Who's Who" of Southern tourism along with travel writers and media so the two can connect to cover the 187.6 billion dollar industry. Yes, that number is correct, so share it with the next person you encounter who says that tourism is not an important industry for your Southern state.
Since Birmingham was the host city this year, Alabama played the part of gracious host along with Communications Director Edith Parten, who invited me on a pre-trip to the state before the start of Travel South. I had a couple different options and was of course drawn to the "Blues & BBQ" tour, but after thinking more about it, the storytelling, quilting, back roads and small towns on the "Small Town Treasures" tour started calling my name. You'll have the chance to read many stories coming out of this tour in the coming months, so I won't go into detail here. I'll just
A Q&A With Tupelo Poet Patricia Neely-Dorsey
by Erin Z. Bass
Patricia Neely-Dorsey grew up in Tupelo, Miss., and is a 1982 graduate of Tupelo High School. She attended Boston University, then moved to Memphis for almost 20 years, before returning to her home state in 2007. Moving back into the house she grew up in sparked lots of memories that first year, so much so that Dorsey began to write down her thoughts on paper. Her book of poems, "Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia," was published in February of 2008.
In honor of National Poetry Month, Dorsey spoke with Deep South about her style of poetry, growing up in Mississippi and how she was influenced by writers like Eudora Welty. With titles like "Mississippi Through and Through, "Southern Man," Right to Vote" and "Making Cracklings," there's no denying the sense of place in Dorsey's writing. You can find several of her poems from the book in our Southern Voice section, and her book is sold on Amazon, at Reed's Gum Tree Bookstore in Tupelo and several other independent bookstores in Mississippi.
How did you start writing poetry?
I never thought about being a writer. It kind of came to me in my sleep
The following four poems by Patricia Neely-Dorsey of Tupelo, Mississippi, were taken from her book "Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia" in honor of National Poetry Month in April. Read our interview with her here.
In the old country church,
Preaching Sunday was quite a big deal;
In just a few words, I'll give you a feel.
White gloved ushers monitor each bench and pew,
Wearing uniforms starched to look like brand new.
Little girls decked out in ruffles and bows,
Sit with mothers in hats sharp
From their heads to their toes.
The minister quotes scriptures
With deep breaths
And a long pause,
He makes so dramatic each and every clause.
At the end of the message, when some hymn is sung,
Shouts ring out between every rung.
There's jerking and fanning and some falling out,
Small ones wonder what all the commotion's about.
When everything's over and the service is done,
Everyone enjoys a grand feast on the lawn.
Dill Pickles in a jar
Point out what you want
Behind the glass.
Service with a smile.
Home folks you know.
Right to Vote
I love to hear the stories,
That my mama and daddy tell;
Sometimes, we'll just sit a while,
And they'll talk for a spell.
They've told me of how hard it was,
by Dana Newsome
Strawberries the sweetest this side of heaven, as the locals claim, will be the highlight of the weekend April 17-18 in the small town of Starke, Florida. Located in the northeast corner of the state, Starke hosts the 12th Annual Bradford County Strawberry Festival each year. With a standing population of 5,700, the area Chamber of Commerce expects the rural community to welcome more than 10,000 weekend guests this year.
Strawberries were first grown in Bradford County in the late 1800s and flourished, while orange groves perished in the "Big Freeze" of 1895 and the cotton industry was destroyed by the boll weevil 20 years later. Crops of the berry have slowly diminished over the years due to the rise of cheaper, imported produce, but several families continue to grow strawberries in Bradford County and showcase them each year in April.
The Strawberry Festival hosts local artists, craftsmen and vendors along historic Main Street in downtown Starke. Visitors and locals can visit booths for shopping, enjoy family activities, listen to live music and, of course, partake in the local strawberries. Covered in chocolate, included in shortcake and fresh from the fields, the county's sweet strawberries are the main attraction. Local
by Erin Z. Bass
Roadfood's second-annual festival in New Orleans couldn't have asked the culinary gods for better weather or better attendance this year. With the sun shining bright and a cool breeze blowing, Roadfood hit the streets of the French Quarter, kicking off March 27 with the building of the "World's Longest Poboy" in partnership with Louisiana's Oyster Jubilee. After 340 feet of fried oysters and French bread were devoured on Bourbon Street, the Storyville Stompers led the crowd in a second line to the festival a block over on Royal Street. Roadfood's white tents went on for five blocks, serving the best "folk" food from New Orleans and other Roadfood destination restaurants around the country.
Roadfood Festival Highlights:
Seeing such a feat as the "World's Longest Poboy" and getting a taste of a perfectly fried oyster nestled in fresh French bread and topped with blue cheese from Cafe Reconcile.
Perusing the festival's 20 food vendors and trying to decide where to start. The Famous Maine Diner's seafood chowder, packed with scallops, lobster, shrimp and crab, won and did not disappoint.
Choosing a sweet treat from Turtle Alley Chocolates, who came all the way from Gloucester, Mass., for the festival. Their caramel-filled chocolate lollipop
by Erin Z. Bass
Featuring as many as 75 musicians, HBO's new show from the creators of "The Wire," called "Treme" after the New Orleans neighborhood, premieres April 11 at 9 p.m. But making the building excitement of the premiere bittersweet is the death of Emmy Award-winning TV writer David Mills, who passed away March 30 in New Orleans. Mills was producing "Treme" along with David Simon and was present a few days before he died at the Tennessee Williams Festival's "The Making of Treme" panel. Mills sat second from the left inside the Royal Sonesta's Grand Ballroom, with writer Tom Piazza on his left and David Simon, Co-Creator Eric Overmyer and writer and journalist Lolis Eric Elie to his right.
As described in the festival program, the "Treme" panel will educate the audience about "the challenges this great city presents to the writers and actors on the show, and how it inspires and engages the stories narrated within." Without giving too much away, the producers and writers did discuss the central plot, a mystery conceived by Elie, who was born in New Orleans and wrote the award-winning documentary "Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans."
"Treme" begins three months after