blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1
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A joint venture of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 by Blackbird and the individual writers and artists

ISSN 1540-3068

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   Jake Adam York
   Mark Strand
   Jeannine Savard
   John Allman
   Sarah Bednarek

One of the oldest symbol systems known to humans arose from the need to mark the seasons, and now the fourth year of Blackbird begins with this issue of spring, "a time abhorrent to the nihilist," as Stevens pointed out, a time of promise and hope—and, as Dickinson reminds us, "a little Madness." So, to spite all the many temptations to a contrary attitude, we hopefully call your attention to a promising group of emerging voices. We've provided a reading loop linking you to five of them: poets Jennifer L. Knox and Brian Teare; visual artist Sarah Bednarek; and fiction writers Jennifer Dickinson and Neil Grimmett. The range of their work is remarkable, journeying from sly political commentary in Bednarek's short video to the creative resilience of Dickinson's clear-eyed young narrator in "Violet." Knox presents two graceful but biting lyrics, Teare a moving evocation of the precarious qualities of communication, and Grimmett a collision with the tragedy always lurking in the inequities of Britain's class system. We consider ourselves fortunate to publish them and look forward to what they do next.

We also optimistically call your attention to Mark Strand's witty and elegant exploration of "Poetry in the World," and to another of our nonfiction offerings, the second half of an energizing interview with the late William Matthews by David Wojahn and James Harms. Acclaimed poet Liliana Ursu appears here in a translation by Tess Gallagher and Adam Sorkin, together with a reading provided by our friend Ileana Popa so that you can hear the beauty of the original Romanian. Add to these the poems of Rodney Jones and Jeannine Savard, and we believe you'll agree that the voices that reach us through such poems can deliver that different sort of news without which we would be miserable, as William Carlos Williams promised.

We welcome back John Allman to Blackbird and note with pleasure the sure hand of an experienced wordsmith at work in "Get Up," which revisits the imaginary environs native to Gregor Samsa and his compatriots. Our fiction offerings also include two writers in the remarkable beginning of their creative careers, Michael Croley and Jeremy Griffin. "Two Lives" and "Kiss" are their first published stories.

The Gallery offers volume of smoke by Clay McLeod Chapman, a play which documents a famous Richmond theater fire from the early 19th century; the play has been produced both in New York and at Richmond's Firehouse Theatre. Its cantata-like collection of voices captures our deeply human connection to history, a desirable achievement in cities that each have histories overcrowded with incidents blazing and fraught.

Also in the Gallery, John Bresland introduces us to cinecriture with a foray into a relatively new form, the video essay, in "Les Cruel Shoes." We hope later to bring you additional work as a feature to relieve the dog days of summer.

Sit back, light up the screen, and enjoy these disparate and compelling voices, which we take from around the world to send around the world, for, as Mr. Strand reminds us, "Their world is in their voice—inseparable from it. Their language is so forceful, so identifiable that you read them not to verify the meaning or truthfulness of your own experience in the world, but simply because you want to saturate yourself with the singularity of their voices."

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A Reading Loop of four writers and one artist who demonstrate the remarkable promise and ability present in the new voices of contemporary art

Steve Gehrke
Ingrid Hill
Karen Kevorkian

William Matthews, with
   David Wojahn and
   James Harms
Jake Adam York

Cliff Becker, 1964-2005
New awards for Blackbird

New books by Blackbird
Blackbird and LOCKSS

Ellen Bryant Voigt
Lily Tuck
Marilyn Nelson