blackbirdonline journalSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
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Founded in 2001 as a joint venture of the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of English and New Virginia Review, Inc.

Copyright © 2018 by Blackbird and the individual writers and artists

ISSN 1540-3068



Introductions Reading Loop    
The Introductions Reading Loop brings to your attention writers whose work you may be encountering for the first time. In this issue, we feature poets Elvira Basevich, Kwoya Fagin Maples, and Chioma Urama; fiction writers Sonal Kohli, James Leech, and Emily Nemens; and nonfiction writer Melissa Stephenson. These authors hold great promise and are exceptional examples of the ever-changing literary landscape.   Kwoya Fagin Maples
Tracking the Muse    
Since 2007, we have invited contributors from the annual Introductions Loop to comment on their creative processes and sources of inspiration. For these emerging writers, stimulus takes many forms: the profundity of a morning ritual, the opportunity in transforming a memory into language, or in seeking African American Vernacular English in the South. In this issue, Elvira Basevich, Sonal Kohli, James Leech, Emily Nemens, Melissa Stephenson, and Chioma Urama continue the tradition in “Tracking the Muse.”   Elvira Basevich
Cabell First Novelist Reading Award Loop     
On November 16, 2017 at James Branch Cabell Library, Jade Chang received the 2017 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for her novel, The Wangs vs. the World. Included is an excerpt from Chang’s novel, a recording and a transcript of the reading, and the panel discussion, featuring Helen Atsma, Editorial Director of Fiction at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Hanna Pylväinen, assistant professor of English at VCU; and Chang’s agent. Included is Blackbird’s review of The Wangs vs. the World by Emily Block.   Jade Chang
Claudia Emerson Reading Loop    
The Claudia Emerson Reading Loop celebrates the publication of Claude before Time and Space (Louisiana State University Press, 2018), the third collection published since Emerson’s death and the last collection she shaped and ordered for publication. We invite you to revisit six poems from the book previously presented by Blackbird; an interview with commentary by Emilia Phillips from Waxwing; and poems and an elegy for Emerson by Catherine MacDonald, which concludes the loop.   Claudia Emerson
AWP Panel: Tribute to Dave Smith     
On February 9, 2017, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs hosted a panel discussion in tribute to the poet Dave Smith, a Virginia native, whose distinguished career stretches nearly fifty years. Panelists shared their favorite Dave Smith poems and discussed their personal and literary connections. Smith is notable for his contributions to a number of creative writing programs and literary publications. Kate Daniels moderated the panel, joined by T.R. Hummer, Mary Flinn, Molly McCully Brown, and Ernest Suarez.   Dave Smith
A Reading by Gretchen Comba & Karen Solie     
On April 13, 2017, Gretchen Comba and Karen Solie read at the James Branch Cabell Library as a part of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Visiting Writers Series. Comba read an unpublished story, “Baby Elephant Walk,” about a voyeuristic junior high school band teacher coming to terms with the disappointments of adulthood. Solie read poems from her most recent book, The Road In Is Not the Same Road Out (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2016), which won the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize in 2015.   Karen Solie
A Reading by Clint McCown & David Wojahn     
On April 6, 2017, Clint McCown and David Wojahn read from their most recent collections of poetry at Chop Suey Books in Richmond, Virginia. McCown, a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, read from his fifth collection of poems, Total Balance Farm (Press 53, 2017). Wojahn, also a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, read from his new collection of poems, For the Scribe (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017).   Clint McCown

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