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 © 2003 and 2004 by Blackbird and the individual writers and artists

ISSN 1540-3068

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   Rick Barot
   Norman Dubie
 Susan Aizenberg
   Larry Levis
   Collecting Myself

Innovation. Bold perspectives. Welcome to Blackbird—and for many that's a "welcome back," as many thousands visit each month now, a far-flung community of readers in numbers constantly rising. Feel free to tell others about the quality you find here. Explore. You'll find something to engage you on every visit.

We are especially pleased to offer "The Book of Crying Kanglings," the third and concluding installment of Norman Dubie's futuristic book-length poem, The Spirit Tablets at Goa Lake, which you may read now in its entirety. We thank him again and recognize his forward-thinking courage in entering into such a publishing adventure with us. This remarkable quality of mind in Dubie is reflected in his vatic poem, a narrative joining the wisdom and prophecy of Tibetan Buddhism with the philosophical self-reflection that is one of the identifying characteristics of the best speculative fiction.

Innovation and boldness of perspective are characteristic of other artists here as well. Gerald Stern (winner of the National Book Award) gives us three fierce new poems. We have an exciting suite from T. R. Hummer, editor of The Georgia Review, who performs with words what jazz musicians do with music; if you click on the audio version of his work, you'll taste the provocative sound of Jimmie Lunceford's band which inspired Hummer's own riffs. There's a musically inclined essay from Hummer as well.

A previously unpublished poem by Larry Levis is part of our celebration of the work of Susan Aizenberg, winner of the 2003 Levis Reading Prize, and you'll find an essay by Dave Smith and audio and video of Levis reading—all part of the "Levis Reading Loop." Other notable poets here include award-winning authors Kathleen Peirce and Reginald Shepherd, along with Lisa Russ Spaar and Tony Whedon, and younger poets whose talents you'll discover, from the quirky humor of Melissa Koosman to the vividly painted meditations of Amy Tudor.

VCU annually sponsors the First Novelist Award, and we're delighted to offer not only samples from Isabel Zuber's award-winning novel Salt, but a new short story by her, one which nails unbridled desire as the place where the trouble starts—and love goes wrong. More fiction here deals boldly with that subject, including work by the well-known Terese Svoboda, and younger writers Colleen Curran, Patricia Wagner, and Kevin Wilson.

In Gallery, Richard Roth gives an illustrated lecture on the artist as collector, interrogating definitions of art and beauty, investigating the urge to take meaning from patterns arrayed around us in kitchens and newspapers and cosmetic counters. Dan O'Brien, recent playwright-in-residence at the Manhattan Theatre Club, takes us on a ghost walk in his play which, though set in Key West, might glimpse the undying lands of Tír na nÓg.

This issue welcomes Troy Teegarden and his interview with Andrew Hudgins; Teegarden will bring more of such enjoyments in the future. We're including more reviews: Susan Settlemyre Williams on Joy Katz, Craig Beaven on Rick Barot, with others to come later as features.

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Featuring previously unpublished work by Larry Levis and more

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Rick Barot
Stephen Dunn
Joy Katz

Rick Barot
Samuel R. Delany

Susan Aizenberg
Andrew Hudgins
T. R. Hummer
Isabel Zuber