blackbird online journal Spring 2008  Vol. 7  No. 1
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A joint venture of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 by Blackbird and the individual writers and artists

ISSN 1540-3068


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Arts Fund

Virginia Commission for the Arts


  Lynda Hull
   Lynda Hull
  Peter Taylor
   Peter Taylor
  Norman Dubie
   Norman Dubie
  Claudia Emerson
   Claudia Emerson
  Tomaz Salamun
   Tomaž Šalamun
  Sami Ben Larbi
   Sami Ben Larbi

Thoreau considered spring “an experience in immortality,” and in that light this issue engages beginnings and defies endings. Each spring we feature an Introductions Reading Loop, offering a closer look at six outstanding artists in earlier stages of their careers. The selected artists, including three poets, one story writer, one playwright and one visual artist, share an ability to surprise with intelligence, substance and eloquence. Sandra Beasley explodes dubious wars, myths, and parades, sardonically suggesting that “somewhere a parakeet is driving a tractor,” while Jehanne Dubrow’s “Fragments from a Nonexistent Yiddish Poet” gives voice to a lost and missing culture, and James Thomas Miller dabbles in a kind of sarcastic verbal filmmaking with a funky soundtrack. Miroslav Penkov subtly and affectionately employs the broadly drawn characters and humor of folktale to evoke the landscapes, emotional and geographic, of a corner of eastern Europe. Terry Gibson’s play takes on the history of migrations in the Midwest moving from rural to urban, while visual artist Sami Ben Larbi provides us with text written and rewritten before our eyes, one piece of a larger puzzle in his obsession with French film of the 1960s.

We also have the luxury here of revisiting writing which continues to gather readers and attentive critics despite the deaths of its authors during the 1990s. Poet Lynda Hull is represented by two new early poems as well as insightful appreciations of her striking work by Mark Doty, Elizabeth Alexander, Susan Aizenberg, and others. Peter Taylor’s late short story “The Oracle at Stoneleigh Court” is presented here in its entirety, accompanied by several essays delineating his renowned mastery of short fiction.

New work by Norman Dubie, Claudia Emerson, Eleanor Ross Taylor, and Joshua Poteat—poets we’ve gladly published before—reminds us that poems can undertake a multitude of approaches and yet exhibit a stringent integrity that transcends facile categorization. The same can be said of the work of Tomaž Šalamun, appearing here in graceful new translations by Brian Henry. Peter Campion’s long poem exhibits an adept hand weaving a lyrical thread through virulent complexities, while Ryo Yamaguchi’s prose poems explore the arc and architecture of metaphor as audio.  

A new story by George Garrett raises the old questions about the intersecting avenues of fiction and memory, and Kelly Cherry offers a cogent examination of how Garrett has occupied their boulevards through a productive writing life. Liam Callanan invites us into a wry and unexpected story of late love, while Molly Giles takes the other tack with love gone wrong.

Curator John Ravenal conducts a short tour of the work of Sol LeWitt in his featured look at acquisitions at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and reviews of new books by Andrew Kozma, David McCombs, Elizabeth Hadaway, and Steve Gehrke round out our offerings in this issue of spring, our seasonal expression of renewal.  

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Tracking the Muse
Sandra Beasley, Jehanne Dubrow, Terry Gibson, and Miroslav Penkov on creative process.

A reading loop of five writers and one visual artist who demonstrate remarkable promise.

In Memoriam
George Garrett

Gehrke, Hadaway, Kozma, McCombs

Mary Gordon

contributor news
Recent Books

Million Writers Award
for best overall online publication goes to Blackbird for having seven of their stories selected as notable stories of the year.

Eleanor Ross Taylor
George Garrett
Joshua Poteat
Claudia Emerson
Norman Dubie

Coming Soon
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