birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Home Truths

The Bitter Southerner ( is a weekly electronic journal with stories about the South. Sometimes their stories are about Southern musicians, writers, artists, or a good Southern cocktail. Sometimes it’s a story of place. Almost always, The BS addresses the duality of being Southern. The love/hate relationship we Southerners have with our geography. They fearlessly discuss racism and bigotry.

Some of their stories have been a revelation for me. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” discussed the checkered past of Atlanta’s Stone Mountain—the mountain with the Mother of all Confederate Memorials on it. The author eloquently wove his father’s bigotry into the story. It’s hard to confront that in your family. I have to admit that I’ve tried to ignore it. Then, I’ve tried to write about it, but I couldn’t get a grasp on it. I don’t know what the story is. I can’t find a frame for it like the history of Stone Mountain.

So one day at lunch with my friends who write, I confessed that I had been trying to write about the fact that my mother’s family were slaveholders. I tried to lessen the evil—they didn’t own a lot of slaves, I stammered—this wasn’t Tara or anything. Even I knew that my caveat sounded remarkably similar to my mother saying, “They were good to their slaves.”

It was a relief to say it out loud. It’s still not something I can easily write about. In fact, this is the first time I’ve done it. A mistake? I hope not.

Coming Clean