blackbirdonline journalSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1

        Dedicated to the memory of Thomas B. Gay, educator, painter, poet, friend.
        (read more about Thomas B. Gay)

Each spring we use this reading loop to bring to your attention writers and artists whose work you may be encountering for the first time. In this issue, the group includes several who have already made their way to other lists, anthologies, and small presses acclaiming their remarkable work. We expect that you will be glad to discover them now—and to hear of them again later in their careers, as you no doubt will.

Jose M. Martinez    
“Mariana,” Jose M. Martinez’s short story, employs the act of remembering as its narrative impulse and primary tool—examining how, at times, this exercise of memory can provide the geologic map for unearthing deeply hidden areas in our own minds. Told in second person, the story enacts an inventive series of “You remembered” statements which ground the narrator in an individual voice as well as enable a relationship between the speaker and the reader. “You remembered telling him one day,” the speaker tells us, “quite a while after this conversation, that you recalled very tiny visions of resting against a woman’s chest.” Jose M. Martinez
Caroline McCoy    
In “Summit,” Caroline McCoy explores the specific mountainous terrain of the western North Carolina Smokies as recollected by Warren, who in his present is faced with navigating the equally treacherous terrain of increasing age. Warren contends with shifting familial relationships, physical frailty, and a fear of vanishing acuity. “[Warren] stared at the carpeted space between his hands, and, as he began to inch his body forward, he thought of his granddaughter. Lucy was hiking the trail that had, on his final ascent and several before it, bent him into this very shape. He wondered if she would drop to her knees . . . as he had.”    Caroline McCoy
Sejal Shah    
Sejal Shah’s nonfiction, “India West,” explores the contrast in certain relationships as a vehicle through which to reveal and break stereotypes. Shah titles her piece after the largest of the weekly Indian newspapers in California, and the piece was written to examine where South Asian Americans were in terms of assimilation or not into the larger culture. Shah provides powerful insights into the dichotomies that characterize that world. The speaker states “If I say, that guy, he’s a nice guy, it means I liked him once or he liked me. . . . it means I might have kissed him or maybe he kissed me. Why give all my secrets away?”    Sejal Shah
Felicity Sheehy    
Felicity Sheehy specifically employs observations on makeup, mythology, and disturbingly reported novel plots to plumb the experience and difference of being female. In “Apollo Catches Daphne,” Sheehy states: “women / are always turning into something / else,” leading to a conclusion of “Something in them wants to be / something strange, something / to do with beauty, I suppose.” And in “Makeup,” the poet remembers “Once a year, at a restaurant, / we’d dress up like fine women in stores— / Jane and Elizabeth, the March sisters— / and order a special to share.”    Felicity Sheehy
Samyak Shertok    
Samyak Shertok’s poetry explores the details of his Nepalese heritage to ground a poetic practice that owes more to inexplicable inspiration than to specific decision. “How a poem happens is largely a mystery to me,” he explains, “and I like it this way, for I love standing in the field of unknowing, submerging in a dreamfield where the lyric and imagery become more urgent than logic.” The poem “In the Year of the Earth” explores a setting where “fated to die on the wing / all day they watched / . . . they took the hits / fell to the earth and returned / to the same pockets of ash / we begged them for the love / of Buddha please go / go anywhere but go.”    Samyak Shertok
Matthew Wimberley    
Matthew Wimberley’s poems traverse rivers, mountains, and skies to place the poet in direct conversation with nature and its traditional domination of poetry’s lyric mode. In “Snowmelt,” at a party in Greenwich Village, the poet observes “I can remember that life, / the one inside of this one, / and so I must think also / of the one still to come.” That separation continues to be mirrored in “The Silence” in which the poet states: “The creek keeps / running in front of me / so certain in its endlessness. / . . . my friend at his desk / . . . he stayed up while everyone slept / and loaded his rifle.”    Matthew Wimerley

Introductions texts appear in different sections of Blackbird but are organized in this alternative menu, a featured reading loop allowing easy navigation of related material.

A link to this “Introductions Reading Loop” menu appears at the bottom of every Introductions-related page. You may also return to this menu at any time by visiting Features.