Thank you, Grandmama, for daring to fight, for tenderly and rigorously loving us, for daring to be open about your failures, for not running north when you could, for making us know we are loved, for teaching us how to work and share and laugh.
Thank you, Mama, for teaching me everyday than an unexamined life is not a rich life, for modeling a love of reading, writing, teaching, and building, for laughing when our hearts and heads were so heavy and so light, for being honest when it was easier to lie, for admitting you failed, for accepting you taught us how to dream and dodge, for revision.
Thank you, teachers and readers, for taking time to engage with any sentence or paragraph I've written, for sharing those sentences with other readers and students, for taking time with the work even when I get it wrong, for giving me permission to create what I've never seen.
Thank you, Mississippi, for birthing the architects of soul, blues, gospel and all thangs trill, for making sure our hearts beat with utter tenderness and absolute ferocity, for making me know that hometraining is crucial to all kinds of love, for pushing me away and accepting me back, for being every bit as scary and sublime as the uninitiated think we are, for that dog, for that dog.
Thank you, Holy Family, for showing me that black southern love necessitates black southern friendship and black southern (in)formal education, for letting me laugh so much, for making me laugh so much, for teaching me how to be happy watching and listening, for introducing me to three people who absolutely saved my life: Mr. Otis, Ms. Simmons and Derrick Carlisle, and for the lives and memories of David Rozier, Henry Wallace and Tim Brown.
Thank you, Oberlin College, for accepting me, for introducing me to hummus, tofu and new ways of using narrative voice, for really giving me the belief that I could make a life out of reading, writing, teaching and learning, for forgiving me when I failed, for loving me even when I did everything I could to hide from you.
Thank you, University of Mississippi English Department of English, for intellectual and creative genius, for kindness and professional integrity, for talking to each other, for loving our state and our students, for embracing our team.