Guest contributor: Matt Jones and Jessica Masterton

Southern Fried Scribes is Almost There! Help a Couple of Idealists Help a Bunch of Kids!

categories: Cocktail Hour / Don't Talk About Politics

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Jennifer and Matt by Jennifer and Matt

 

The Final Countdown

 

It all ends begins in just under 72 hours.  It is almost all we have known for the past 6 weeks—our Kickstarter campaign for Southern Fried Scribes—and we are both sad and relieved to see it come to an end.  After chains of shameless mass emails, cold calls, door-to-door solicitations, and early morning meetings where Jess’s eyes were still far too big and much too sleepy to answer questions about budget and funding allocation, our campaign is closing. Yes, there are just under 72 hours left and we are so close to reaching our goal. We have raised $4,485 of our $5,000 goal as of April 29th. That’s 89%! We have until May 2nd to reach $5,000. That’s three days! We are so close we can taste it. It tastes greasy and southern fried. We are so close to reaching our Kickstarter goal that we are now realizing what all of this means. We are now realizing that we are 72 hours away from 100+ Hale County high school students being able to enroll in 8 weeks of free creative writing workshops. We are under three days away from printed anthologies, Southern Fried t-shirts, imaginative fiction, emerging voices, and yes, the head buzzings of all head buzzings to have ever been recorded, a head buzzing that will reveal the true proportions—every curve and hard edge—of the head beneath it.

Still, we are close. Not there yet, but close. We’re as close to our fundraising goal as the teeth of the electrical clippers will be to my scalp when they make that final trim to spell out, “We’ve done it! We’ve all done it. Southern Fried Scribes is coming to Hale County this summer!” Not literally, of course. But the head buzzing that comes with reaching our fundraising goal is meant to be more than a spectacle.  It is meant to be a celebration of Southern Fried Scribes becoming a reality and a thank you to all of our wonderful supporters.

[Original Post follows:]

We came from different places, she from the Midwest, all over really, most recently Minnesota, but New York, Pennsylvania, and even Louisiana before that. I moved to Tuscaloosa from Austin, Texas, and it was there, here really, Alabama, that Field Tiger Press came into being.

We tell ourselves that Field Tiger Press was born from a mattress on the floor sitting atop carpet covered in dog hair. This is true, but now we are going places. Like Greensboro.

Greensboro is a small town situated in Hale County, just under an hour south of Tuscaloosa. It is here, or there really, that we will be hosting our first few sessions of Southern Fried Scribes. So, what is Southern Fried Scribes? Well, Southern Fried Scribes is a series of free creative writing workshops that we will be offering to Alabama high school students in the Black Belt region* this summer. Where is the Black Belt you might ask? The Black Belt is where Hale is, where Greensboro is, where we plan to really make things happen.

We’ve got some really cool things planned, even USA Today seems to think so. With the help of HERO (Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization), we will be able to have the physical space and resources necessary to give these kids a fully immersive experience into the literary arts. Sure, we may skip out on the Welty and the Joyce for now, the literature of it all, but we have some fun things in mind. For instance, we will give them writing exercises that encourage their minds to reach beyond the boundaries of counties and stateliness. We will take them to local letterpress shops to print their poems and prose. We will organize readings for them to perform their works in front of family and friends. We will also provide each student with a printed and perfectly bound anthology at no cost to showcase all of their creative pieces.

So, yes, Jess and I are very excited about Southern Fried Scribes, about Field Tiger Press, about HERO and Hale and Greensboro and everything, even without the literature of it all. The one thing we are still working on is our fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, the one that ends on May 2nd, the one that helps us make all of this happen. We’re not just asking for money though.  We’re contributing, reciprocating. We’re offering rewards. For anyone who donates, there are flash fiction postcards to be had, copies of the anthology to be read, public shamings of one of the founders to be viewed. Did I not mention that?

Well, I, Matt Jones, will publicly shave and brand my head, by way of variously sized clipper attachments, should Southern Fried Scribes reach its fundraising goal.  I think it was my idea originally, but something tells me that Jess wouldn’t mind seeing how I fare in this world without my “pretty boy blond locks.”

[From Wikipedia:  The Black Belt is a region of the U.S. state of Alabama. The term originally referred to the region’s rich, black topsoil. But because of the plantation agriculture supported by that topsoil, in which the workers were initially slaves and then sharecroppers, the population of the region was and is overwhelmingly black. This sociological definition of the “Black Belt” refers to a much larger region of the Southern United States, stretching from Texas to Maryland but centered on the Black Belt of Alabama. In the antebellum and Jim Crow eras, the white elites of the Black Belt were powerful in Alabama state politics. Montgomery, the Black Belt’s largest city, has been the capital of Alabama since 1846. Since the black population gained the right to vote, the voting patterns of the Black Belt have been in contrast to those of the rest of Alabama. Montgomery and Selma and other parts of the Black Belt were important centers of activity during the Civil Rights movement.  Ed.]

Matt Jones is a Truman Capote Fellow and a fiction candidate in the University of Alabama MFA program. He is originally from Houston, TX and now lives in Tuscaloosa with his dog, Bagheera.  Jessica Masterton is a Truman Capote Fellow and a fiction candidate in the University of Alabama MFA program. She is most recently from Minnesota, and while she does not own a dog, she is often covered in dog hair.