The Main Street Rag, Fall 2021


Featured Interview:

Teaching While Black, An Interview with
Matthew E. Henry by Shawn Pavey

Fiction by

Jennifer Blake, Matthew C. Bush, Nathan Leslie, R. F. Mechelke, CL Roderick, Carl Schiffman, R. A. Shockley, Glen Vecchione,


Matthew E. Henry, Jane Andrews, Richard Becker, Kay Bosgraaf, Brenton Booth, Chris Bullard, Ricks Carson, Diana Cole, Llyn Clague, Cleo Griffith, Robert Cooperman, Jim Sodo Gardner , Virginia Bach Folger, Tony Gloeggler, D. R. James, Cordelia M. Hanemann, Ruth Hoberman, Michelle McMillan-Holifield, Stephanie Kendrick, Terri McCord, Peter McNamara, Michael Mintrom, Charles Rammelkamp, Kevin Ridgeway, Claire Scott, Shei Sanchez, Matthew J. Spireng, Beth Suter, Kevin Sweeney, Kelly Terwilliger, Mark Taksa, Eric Weil,

Books Reviewed

American Devine by Aaron Poochigian, American Wake by Kerrin McCadden, The Brothers Silver by Marc Jampole, Uncomfortable Minds by Larry Sorkin, All These Hungers by Rick Mulkey


Luanne Castle, Jeanne Julian, George Longenecker, Violet Snow, Richard Allen Taylor


M. Scott Douglass

From the Front Seat

Hello, again, Readers,

The Main Street Rag family hopes you are all well.

Featured Interview

I need to give a shout out to Main Street Rag co-founder, Shawn Pavey for his wonderful interview with Matthew E. Henry and one to Matthew as well for his part in making it one of the best interviews Main Street Rag has ever published.

If that’s not enough to get you to turn the page and dive in, let me tell you two things about Teaching While Black by Mr.(Dr.) Henry. First, we knew the day it arrived for consideration that we wanted to publish it. It was a unanimous decision among all readers who just happened to read it at the same time (the wonders of Submittable). Second, as the interview will illustrate, when I read this as a manuscript, I was in the classroom. I was there. The scene was vibrant; the characters alive.

If you have not read Teaching While Black and this interview doesn’t inspire you to want to read this book, your poetic and social soul may well be lost.

Cover Art, Etcetera

I confess, I do tend to use my own photographs over those that I am offered by other photographers and artists. There are reasons for this. First of all, mine are FREE and I pay people when I use their photo/artwork. More important, cover decision is often a last-minute thing; a matter of spontaneous inspiration for me and highly dependent on what I’m doing at the moment.

Last month’s cover was a photograph by Jim Ross. I like the image and it was timely, fit the seasonal tone I often target. That said, if I hadn’t promised Jim that he would have the Summer issue cover, I would have used a photo I took in Las Vegas, NM while on my summer ride.

That photo was bumped to this issue, but then…

My friend James and I ride a couple hundred miles every weekend when the weather holds and we’re able to escape household chores. We’ve been riding together for about 7 years. When I’m not riding with him, I sometimes ride with a HOG group. As a result, I have covered thousands of miles of backroads in North Carolina—much of it through farming areas.

James and I rode one of our regular routes on Memorial Day: through Cabarrus, Stanly, Anson, Union, and Mecklenburg counties. It struck me how quickly local cornfields were arriving at a crinkly stage when suddenly I saw a crop I’d never seen before. It’s bright orange bloom stood out in comparison to crusty brown corn leaves. I had to look it up to learn what it was. I would have stopped right away and taken pictures, but James don’t photo when he’s riding. He’s dead serious, nose to the road, take every curve as fast as you can get away with.

Anyway, the crop is sorghum, it is the fifth most commonly grown grain worldwide and, apparently, has recently seen an increase in demand. This is Capitalism at work, so take it with a “grain” of salt. For all we know someone could be creating a fake demand just to drive the price up and increase their profit—no one ever tells the truth about shit like that, so I suspect we’ll never know.

That said, what I read online (there’s another untainted source) is that China has decided to start making fructose out of sorghum instead of corn. There is some dispute over why. There is certainly a cost issue. My source said that China’s own corn crop was less than reliable and American corn is too expensive, so when they decided to switch, I guess some of the local farmers saw an opportunity.

Now that I know what it is and much of the corn fields have been harvested, I’m seeing sorghum everywhere and here’s what I know:

It sure is a pretty plant. And bright orange is so seasonal.

I had to go back by myself to take the pictures since I knew I couldn’t get James to stop long enough for me to get them when we were riding. While I was hunting photogenic sorghum fields, I took the opportunity to shoot a few other places we pass regularly.

And then there was the night Jill and I spent in West Jefferson: the beer, the antiques, the cheese. Some photos came from that trip.

Understand, it’s not that I think I’m a great photographer. It’s a matter of being in the moment, setting a tone, having a vision for this magazine. I know I can’t please everyone’s esthetics with everything I do in this literary magazine. I can only do what I do and hope a few people appreciate it. That’s all anyone in an art community can hope for.

I’m off to The Back Seat. Hope to see you there—but don’t skip any of the good stuff in between.

M. Scott Douglass
Publisher/Managing Editor
The Main Street Rag

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