The Mississippi Delta: a distinctive region in Northwest Mississippi between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. The region has been called “The Most Southern Place on Earth” (“Southern” in the sense of “characteristic of its region, the American South”) because of its unique racial, cultural, and economic history.
Delta Blues: one of the first styles of blues music, originating in the Mississippi Delta.
Delta (Δ): in math and science, denotes change of any changeable quantity.
Delta will be an illustration zine focusing on Memphis and the Mississippi Delta, with all the cultural, economic, and racial complexity that that entails. How one investigates that narrative is up to the illustrator; a local Memphian might focus on a specific building in town, while an out-of-towner might create a magic-realist version of Robert Johnson’s crossroads story. Perception of the South is the reality in this instance, and we want it to be as open to interpretation as possible.
Simultaneously, Delta will be about post-Recession America, and how the country is coping with renewing itself. Civil Rights Trails have added bike lanes, blood-stained balconies are reborn as museums, and the poorest are priced out of their own neighborhoods by trendy arts districts. The problems remain the same, but the answers don’t have to be.
“The Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of The Peabody Hotel and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg. The Peabody is the Paris Ritz, the Cairo Shepherd’s, the London Savoy of this section. If you stand near its fountain in the middle of the lobby… ultimately you will see everybody who is anybody in the Delta…”
Author/Historian David Cohn, 1935. Peabodymemphis.com
“It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Mountaintop Speech” April 3rd, 1968.
Dr. King was assassinated the following day.
“I’ve spent some time reading about Memphis, the way you do, and even knowing that any city is too complex to reduce to a single idea, I’m still not sure whether to expect a war zone or a street party. Memphis’s problems are so serious and so well publicized — a black middle class effectively vaporized by the financial crisis, dizzying crime, an imploding education system — that it’s easy to pre-imagine it as something grim and TV-Detroitish, arson husks and blown-out factories, one bad afternoon away from anarchy. On the other hand: Beale Street, Sun Records, Stax, staggering cultural riches for a city of more than 600,000. Did any city in the 20th century give America more joy than Memphis, or more sadness? This is the place where Elvis began and where Martin Luther King Jr. died, and I’m sorry, if you can imagine a more complicated legacy than that, you are either from New Orleans or you are lying.”
Bryan Phillips, Grantland.com “Four Days in Memphis”
“We don’t bluff.”
Zach Randolph. Forward, Memphis Grizzlies #50.
Thematically must be about the Delta region; current, historical, fantastic, etc.
At least 8” x 10” @300dpi. If larger, should fit 8” x 10” proportion.
Will be printed in color.
Please submit work by Friday, July 11th.
Please email or share files to firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors will receive a copy of the zine, as well as a letterpress print made for the project.
They will additionally receive eternal Southern gratitude, and a collection of Southern recipes.
The zine will be made available online at deltamemphiszine.com, as well as in print.
A small crowd-sourced campaign will help cover printing costs; details to follow.