Rachael Maddux and Kay Powell | Episode 21

Non-fiction is really writing without the safety net of exaggeration (fiction). When we decided we wanted to do an episode with two writers focused on that form we knew we had to get two of Atlanta’s best, Rachael Maddux and the legendary Kay Powell.

Rachael shared with us a chapter from a memoir she is working on about growing up in the South and how mortality interweaves itself. Her piece, titled “Cornered”, examines the inevitable results of active shooter training that became standard in school after the Columbine shooting. 

“We’re asking kids to develop muscle memory on how to deal with this,” Rachel said of the training that treats school shootings as a natural disaster. This of course brought on a great discussions of not only how this impacted her life in school but the damage it does to children to this day. 

Kay Powell is a legend, known for obituary writing for the Atlanta Journal Constitution from 1996-2009, Kay crafted stories of a person’s life rather than just list the facts of a passing. “I could find one little nugget that I found interesting about someone who died and it would take off from there,” she said.

Kay graced the show not only with a great conversation but read her obituary for Manley Pointer, "A Death Among Flannery’s Peacocks". Originally published by Bitter Southerner this is the first recording of her reading this amazing story of the passing of this magnificent bird on Flannery O’Connor’s Andalusia Farm. 

Conversation topics induced: 

Kay Powell and Rachael Maddux

Kay Powell and Rachael Maddux

Rachael Maddux’s essays, reviews, and features have appeared in The Oxford American, The Paris Review Daily, The Believer, Guernica, and elsewhere. She’s at work on a memoir about growing up mortal at the turn of the 21st century. She was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Kay Powell has been trying to act retired since she actually retired from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as news obituaries editor. Yet again she has unretired to support Lit and Bruised. She unretires to write for The Bitter Southerner and other publications, present at True Stories! and the Flannery O’Connor zine launch, moderate three Decatur Book Festival programs, volunteer with the KIPP Strive Academy writing program, be interviewed on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Two-Way Street, and to be profiled in Mental Floss magazine, among other projects.

We hope you enjoy the episode.