The Antioch Review: Volume 77 Number 3, Summer 2019. This issue opens with postmodernist African-American painter and printmaker Emma Amos’ 1957 Antioch College senior paper about her education as an artist whose works are currently scheduled to go to the Smithsonian. Investigative reporter Jay Tuck’s “Mankind’s Greatest Challenge: Artificial Intelligence” is a well-founded call for caution in what has become the wild west of virtual reality. Mika Seifert’s “Old Timers” will send chills up your spine and “Coming in on Time” by Stuart Neville will have you reaching for tissues. Our poetry selection rounds out this issue that once again delivers the best words in the best order.
Pick up the Winter 2019 issue of Rattle for the Rattle Poetry Prize winner and finalists.
“Stroke” by Matthew Dickman
“Punch Line” by Kathleen Balma
“Bonanza” by Susan Browne
“Mother and Child” by Barbara Lydecker Crane
“Foreign-ness” by Maya Tevet Dayan
“Cathedrals: Ode to a Deported Uncle” by Daniel Arias Gómez
“The Never-Ending Serial” by Red Hawk
“Gender Studies” by Sue Howell
“From Oblivious Waters” by Kimberly Kemler
“Red in Tooth and Claw” by James Davis May
“Self-Portrait, Despite What They Say” by Gabrielle Otero
Along with the winner and finalists, there are twenty-three other poets included in this issue in the “Open Poetry section.”
The Fall 2019 issue of Weber includes two poems by Bill Snyder: “Redundancy” and “Home.”
Snyder travels through time in these poems. In “Home,” he brings us to 1972 as he hitchhikes to his father’s house in Florida to surprise him with his arrival, and in “Redundancy,” he brings us to 1995 while he plays Scrabble with his mother.
Snyder writes with clarity, each poem rich with description that never bogs the message down. Each feels like a tiny short story, grabbing readers and pulling them into the scene. We are sitting at the table with his mother, “sunlight seeping in.” We are standing on the side of the road waiting in the humid air for a car to stop, “the sun behind a Burger King, Kentucky Fried, / all the rest.”
These poems are a pleasure to read, an intimate gaze at the familial bonds of Snyder’s speaker.
The editors of Tampa Review are pleased to announce that Caitlin O’Neil, of Milton, Massachusetts, has won the thirteenth annual Danahy Fiction Prize for her short story entitled “Mark.” She will receive an award of $1,000, and the story will be published in the forthcoming Spring/Summer issue of Tampa Review.
O’Neil is a graduate of the MFA program at Columbia University and currently teaches in the English Department at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She says that her winning story came directly from her life experiences as a college professor and as a human being living in America today.
“I watched multiple school shootings unfold on television with sadness and fear,” O’Neil says. “Given the gridlock around gun control, I began to think about what a world that had adjusted to guns and gun violence might look like.”
O’Neil’s story is set in a near-future in which guns become an even more pervasive part of the culture.
Learn more about the winning story and the runners up here: tiny.cc/danahyprize13.
Find the Fiction and Poetry winners of the 2019 Zone 3 Literary Awards in the Fall 2019 issue. Winners were chosen by the genre editors.
“Five Variations on Parnell’s Blues” by Matthew Fiander
“Sandy” by Jasmine Dreame Wagner
For more contest winners, readers can pick up the Spring 2019 issue to check out the winner of the nonfiction prize: “In Praise of the Plains” by Sarah Fawn Montgomery. The Literary Awards are currently open until April 1.
Over the centuries, The Atlantic has prized great storytelling. Now we’re setting out to publish fiction with far greater frequency than we’ve managed in the past decade, starting today with “Birdie,” a new story by Lauren Groff.
Contemplative reading might be viewed as a minor act of rebellion in the internet age. At a time when every available surface is saturated in information, it sometimes seems as though facts are absorbed osmotically, even accidentally, just by moving through space and time. And although the internet is not the perfect opposite of the novel, as some people have argued, it makes fairly efficient work of splintering attention and devouring time. Literary reading—of fiction and of poetry, the kind of reading that commands moral and emotional reflection—is far too easily set aside.
Each issue of Ruminate opens with “Readers’ Notes,” a response from a variety of readers/writers on the issue’s theme. This is one of my favorite parts of the issue—the little snippets of connection. The Winter 2019/20 theme is “Shelter,” and thirteen readers write in with their thoughts on the subject.
It’s interesting to see the variety of approaches writers take as they cover this topic. A few speak of physical structures that offer shelter. Benjamin Malay writes of an abandoned farmhouse found while hitchhiking; Duane L. Herrmann’s shelter is a screened-in porch during childhood; and Sharon Esterly writes of a DIY Cold War bomb shelter. Moving away from man-made structures, Rebecca Martin observes a child’s own body being their shelter; Liz Degregorio’s shelter is “the kindest lie” her father could tell her as a child; and Sarah Swandell’s shelter is a womb.
Each of these pieces is short and succinct. All grab attention and hold fast as readers unfold the layers that reveal the shelter within. The Readers’ Notes section serves as a great opener for Ruminate, both as a warm-up for the rest of the issue, and as a way to jog one’s own creativity, prompting consideration on how we too might briefly write on the given topic.
In A Short History of Presidential Election Crises (City Lights Publishing), Constitutional scholar Alan Hirsch addresses these issues with urgency and precision. He presents a concise history of presidential elections that resulted in crises and advocates clear, common-sense solutions, including abolishing the Electoral College and the creation of a permanent, non-partisan Presidential Election Review Board to prevent or remedy future crises.
Cofell was named the winner of the 2019 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award and readers can also find three of her poems in this issue: “Rush Hour,” “What I Learned from My Father,” and “Resignation Notice.”
Stick Figure with Skirt, the winning book, was released in November 2019 and is available at the Main Street Rag bookstore. Readers can also find additional sample poems from the book at the store.
Guest Post by Kimberly Ann Priest
“Are we only bone, skin, and urge?” asks the speaker in The Great Square That Has No Corners. I am beginning to wonder if the answer to that question is affirmative. Yes. As I write this, I am sitting in my living room on a Tuesday afternoon in October, mid-way through another semester teaching, and realizing that, this autumn, I have over-committed myself . . . again.
As projects begin to pile up and my network grows, while responsibilities increase and my own poetry demands that I give it more of my attention, I have to let some things go. After four years reading and writing about new works by various authors and publishers, this will be my last review for NewPages. It’s time, once again, to listen to my body and check my urges. And, how fitting that I should end my review history with a review of a collaborative manuscript by three clearly very talented women who have written an elegant collection of poems on assaulted womanhood—a topic that continually shows up in my own work. Drawing from mythology, Tina Carlson, Stella Reed, and Katherine Dibella Seluja have woven a modern (though not modernized) conversation between Helen, Leda, and Lilith, and they have done so with such precision, such tastefulness, such raw beauty. [Read more…] about ‘We Are Meant to Carry Water’ by Carlson, Reed, and Dibella Seluja
Ocean Vuong’s collection of poetry, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, is a masterpiece that illustrates the most vital and sincere hardships of humanity in astonishingly few words. Leaping from free-verse to prose poetry, from stringent format to broken syntax, Vuong fashions here a collection of inclusion.
We open on “Threshold,” a poem where Vuong introduces his themes of body, parenthood, sexuality, and history. He warns us from the very beginning that “the cost of entering a song—was to lose your way back.” Vuong asks us to enter into his words and lose ourselves there. And we do, poem after poem, until we close on Vuong’s book with the penultimate piece, “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong.” In this poem, we read an assumed message from Vuong to Vuong where he tells himself “don’t be afraid,” and to “get up,” and that the most beautiful part of his body “is where it’s headed.” Before this, we’ve read pages of poetry full of pain, fear, and shattering, but here, Vuong embraces himself—and us alongside him.
“Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong,” like all the poems in Night Sky with Exit Wounds, rings with pain, wonder, regret, and history. Yet, there is also hope here, and I would say this is the theme of Vuong’s work: hope, inclusion, and change. Vuong takes us through a journey, shatters our expectations, holds our hearts, tells us to get up, and that, like him, we can survive the voyage.
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong. Copper Canyon Press, April 2016.
About the reviewer: Andrew Romriell is a creative writing student at Utah State University.