from the Editor

The personalities and perspectives catalogued in this issue are just as strong and various as the team that bound them together.

Our theme for this issue, the contemporary Southern woman, posed a unique challenge for our staff, as we learned from this round of submissions that there is no one image or idea that truly encompasses her identity.

Is she a mother? A poet or a rapper? An artist, hiker, or bellydancer? The notions of identity can be both powerful and prescriptive.

The women featured in issue three of Catalpa are simply the many roots that feed the larger tree of ideas that make up the contemporary Southern woman—and we’re glad Catalpa offers a space to examine them. Within these pages is only a brief snapshot, based on submissions and contributions, of what we hope might start a larger discussion that moves us past our stereotypes.

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why Catalpa?

When choosing a title for our magazine, we wanted a name that would accurately and ethically represent our publication, a graduate magazine geared toward exploring curious perspectives rooted in the South—particularly Chattanooga.

After much debate, we decided to name our new magazine Catalpa, the term for a flowering deciduous tree commonly found in the South. The word catalpa is derived from the term kutuhlpa, the Muscogee word for “tree” which means “winged head.” It has been called Indian bean tree for the long pods it produces and caterpillar tree because it attracts the sphinx moth, whose caterpillars sometimes ravage the leaves. European settlers, at one point, thought the roots were poisonous and at other times took advantage of the tree’s medicinal qualities (from a snake bite antidote to a cure for whooping cough). Today, catalpas and their hybrid sisters are primarily used as ornamental trees with their silvery green leaves and showy, yet delicate flowers.

The catalpa tree offers a metaphor for the complexities of the South with its deep roots and diverse, beautiful, troublesome history. The South is hybrid place of old worries and new innovations that we hope to explore, along with the Chattanooga community, in the coming years.