Jason Howard

Jason Howard
Jason Howard

Jason Howard is the author of A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music and co-author of Something's Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal. His features, essays, and reviews have appeared in The Nation, Equal Justice Magazine, No Depression, Paste, and The Louisville Review, and his commentary has been featured on NPR.

Posts By This Author

Living 'Next Door to the Dead'

by Jason Howard 03-01-2016
Kathleen Driskell on living Next Door to the Dead
Jaroslaw Grudzinski / Shutterstock

Jaroslaw Grudzinski / Shutterstock

ABOUT 20 YEARS AGO, just after she and her husband had bought a house in the countryside outside of Louisville, Ky., Kathleen Driskell returned home from the grocery to find her driveway filled with cars. With one arm grasping bags of food and the other holding on to her young son, she looked around to see what was happening. Mournful figures in dark coats were moving back and forth in the lot next door to her house. And then her eyes rested on something that made her jaw drop: a hearse.

On one hand, Driskell shouldn’t have been surprised. The house she and her husband purchased was actually an old country church dating from the 1850s, which they had begun converting into a home, transforming the sanctuary into an open living and dining room and using the honey-colored pews to build a staircase. Like most rural churches from the 19th century, it was right beside a graveyard. But the old preacher who sold them the building had assured them it was no longer in use, that there would be no more burials. “I asked him flat out,” she recalls with a smile. “And he said that it was full up and it’s been full up.”

Over the years, there have been eight or nine more burials in the graveyard next door. But after recovering from her initial shock at happening upon that first scene, Driskell realized that she didn’t mind. “I just don’t think about graveyards that way,” she says. “I never really have thought about them as being spooky places.” Instead, she has found herself inspired by the cemetery and its dead—so intrigued, in fact, that she has written a poetry collection about her experience with her “neighbors,” as she calls them, documenting her literal and imaginative walks among the tombstones.

You Gotta Move

by Jason Howard 11-06-2014

American artist Parker Millsap spreads his "Truck Stop Gospel."

Beauty in Battered Places

by Jason Howard 05-09-2014

Denise Giardina

A conversation with novelist and activist Denise Giardina.

Wounding and Welcome in the Church

by Jason Howard 06-05-2013

Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christians Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. Harper

Stage Presence

by Jason Howard 09-01-2012

The cast of "A Song for Coretta," by Pearl Cleage - an Agape Theatre Troupe presentation at the Lexington (Ky.) Opera House

Kentucky theater company founder Cathy Rawlings lifts up black culture.

Where Her Heart Is

by Jason Howard 07-01-2011

Humanitarian, award winning actress, and best-selling author Ashley Judd reflects on her faith and "true calling" -- social justice activism.

Ashley Judd: 'My Christian Faith Demands I Work for Social Justice'

by Jason Howard 06-21-2011
It's noon on the West Coast, and Ashley Judd is scurrying to make a live on-air interview with a National Public Radio local affiliate in Berkeley.

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