“Good literary writing examines how we live our most private lives.” Alice Mattison
In Southside Virginia, Briery Creek winds quietly through a 3,164 acre wildlife area located in historic Prince Edward County about seven miles south of Farmville.
The area’s gently rolling hills are typical of the topography of the south-central Piedmont. The nucleus of the area is Briery Creek Lake. Much of the land was originally farmed in some fashion, but is still highly rural; thick with mixed hardwoods, pure stands of lob lolly pine. Ospreys, an occasional bald eagle or white crane lifts and floats against a bright blue Southern sky in this lovely natural area that remains totally unknown to most people, a secret to many even in close proximity.
Prince Edward County, too, is an overlooked area. Situated along Lee’s Retreat, the area survived some of the most important final battles of the American Civil War and hosts both Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College. Here too, many claim, the civil rights movement began, when a group of African American high school students, led by sixteen-year-old Barbara Johns, marched in one of the first organized protests down the main streets of Farmville.
Farmville and Prince Edward County were also the source of Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, a case incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education which ultimately resulted in the integration of public schools in the U.S. Prince Edward County was the focus of the Massive Resistance movement, and after the Brown decision, the school board there closed the public schools in 1959 rather than integrate. The schools remained closed for five years.
And as all things human tend to be contradictory, the county also produced Blanch Kelso Bruce, the first African American Senator, who was born as a slave there.
Secrets and contradictions, glory and shame, pain and joy, Prince Edward County embodies, it seems, not just the struggle to be American, but the struggle to be human.
As does good literature.
Briery Creek Press, founded under the unparalleled tutelage of Virginia native Liam Rector, continues quietly building in Southside Virginia. Through our affiliation with Creative Writing at Longwood University we seek to provide a venue for those voices, the stories of that human struggle and that human joy—or that literature.
What We Publish
Currently, we’re proud to publish The Dos Passos Review and to sponsor The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry. Submission guidelines, including specific reading periods, for both the journal and the contest can be accessed on this site. Please read carefully and consider submitting. For general information, please inquire by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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