level:deepsouth is an online anthology created in 2020 with the goal of documenting Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s by collecting works of creative nonfiction (personal essays, memoirs, and reviews) about our lives back then and since then.

If you’re interested in submitting, click here.

Generation X was born between the 1965 and 1980, and in the Deep South, that meant we were raised in newly integrated neighborhoods, schools, parks, restaurants, and stores by parents who had grown up segregated. Extremely high divorce rates also meant that we were the “most unsupervised generation in American history,” and our babysitters were MTV and VBS. Yet, in a time after the Selma-to-Montgomery March and before the internet, our upbringing in the Deep South was steeped in an eclectic cultural stew made from Boy Scout jamborees and little league sports, dirt bikes and secret forts, Smokey and the Bandit and Valley Girl, Cyndi Lauper and Michael Jackson, The Cosby Show and Dukes of Hazzard, Members Only jackets and break dancing.

Today, the youngest of Generation X are turning 40, and times have changed a great deal. The Boy Scouts went bankrupt. Michael Jackson, Burt Reynolds, and Prince are all dead. Bill Cosby is in prison. Only old white guys wear Members Only jackets. And kids don’t play outside anymore. So, while the Boomers and the Millennials fight over who’s best, we can ignore them both and tell our stories. (If you’re not a writer, you can also share your pictures and add to the lists.)

About the title
Like Generation X, the palindrome level is multifaceted and complicated. It can be a noun, a verb, or an adjective, and it is the same spelled forward and backward. A level is a tool used in construction, but the word also describes the action that the tool is used for and the resulting state achieved by the action; we use a level to level something so it’s level. As a noun, a level is also a horizontal plane, like a floor in a tall building, while as a verb, it describes the action of bringing that building to the ground. But a level doesn’t have to be a physical structure either. We move through levels in a video game, and we take a relationship to the next level. As a verb, the word can mean to be honest (“Level with me.”), to make a situation more fair (“We must level the playing field.”), or to knock the hell out of someone (“He levelled that guy!”) In the South, it can also be a qualifier (“He did his level best.”) The word level carries connotations of utility, fairness, hierarchy, honesty, destruction, and violence all packed into five letters that make up two syllables. There is complexity, duplicity, and contradiction in that small package, kind of like Generation X.
For an index of works organized by state, click here.