blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1

A joint venture of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc.


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An Interview with David Daniel
In September of 2004, David Wojahn and Blackbird editor Gregory Donovan met with David Daniel in the Blackbird offices at Virginia Commonwealth University. In the first part of the conversation, Daniel, recipient of the Seventh Annual Levis Reading Prize for his collection Seven-Star Bird, spoke primarily about the making of the book and its poems. In the second part, the focus shifted to his role as poetry editor at Ploughshares and how that experience has influenced his own writing.

An Interview with Ellen Bryant Voigt
In August of 2004, Blackbird editor Gregory Donovan met with poet Ellen Bryant Voigt at Voigt's home near Marshfield, Vermont. They talked about Voigt's ten-part poem "The Feeder," which appears in this issue of Blackbird, and about the lyric poem as well as other forms and hybrids. The accompanying snapshots were taken at Voigt's home and in the surrounding area.

A Reading by Philip Levine
On September 23, 2004, poet Philip Levine read at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as part of Poetic Principles. This series, sponsored by the Virginia Museum and New Virginia Review, Inc., brings to Richmond the best poets, writers, critics, and translators at work today. Following an introduction by David Wojahn, Levine read poems from The Mercy (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000) and from his latest book, Breath (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), as well as several more recent poems.

Pivot Points Poetry Readings
A documentation of Pivot Points, an exhibition of paintings and poems by three generations of American artists and writers, appears in the Gallery section of this issue of Blackbird. After showing in galleries in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Lima, Peru, in November of 2004 the exhibition opened at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo with the addition of audio recordings of the poets reading their work.

An Interview with Richard McCann
In December of 2004, writer Wesley Gibson (You Are Here: A Memoir of Arrival), met with Richard McCann in Washington, D.C. They talked about Mother of Sorrows, McCann's latest collection of short stories, but they also talked about the themes that run through McCann's poetry, essays, and fiction, about his approaches to writing in different genres, about the effect his family life has had on his work, and more. McCann's story "My Brother in the Basement" appears in this issue of Blackbird.

An Interview with Sally Bowring
In February of 2004, painter Sally Bowring spoke with Susan Glasser in the Blackbird office on the VCU campus. In a wide-ranging conversation, Bowring, who appears in the documentation of Pivot Points: Three Generations of American Painters & Poets in the current Gallery section, talked about abstraction, her own processes, the Pivot Points exhibition, and more.

Susan Glasser is director of the Boyden Gallery of Art at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She interviewed art critic Peter Schjeldahl for Blackbird, Vol. 3 No. 1, and contributed an introductory essay for Richard Carlyon's video "Flight Song" in Blackbird, Vol. 1 No. 1.

An Interview with Michael Byers
On September 16, 2004, David Pandolfe, a second-year fiction student in Virginia Commonwealth University's MFA Program in Creative Writing, met with writer Michael Byers in the Blackbird office on the VCU campus. Byers was in Richmond to receive the third VCU First Novelist Award for his novel Long for This World, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2003. Their conversation focused primarily on Long for This World—where it began, how it took shape, the way it changed from words on a page into an award-winning novel.

Wendy Ewald | In Peace and Harmony: Carver Portraits
Over the course of several weeklong visits the fall and winter of 2003, internationally acclaimed American photographer Wendy Ewald worked with a group of third, fourth, and fifth graders at Richmond, Virginia's Carver Elementary School. Together, they developed photographic images and text exploring the students' perceptions of self, community, and home.

This material—a multifaceted portrait of the Carver community—ultimately took the form of 29 large-scale photographic banners, each measuring 10 by 8 feet. The banners were installed in twelve outdoor locations throughout the neighborhood.

Ewald's project moves art beyond the boundaries of the gallery walls into the public arena, expanding the meaning and implications of the term "on site."

A Lecture by Ellen Bryant Voigt
On August 6, 2004, Ellen Bryant Voigt delivered the morning lecture to participants in the 26th Annual Festival of Poetry, held at The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire. With the permission of Voigt and The Frost Place, Blackbird presents the lecture in its entirety. It was recorded and produced by

The 26th Annual Festival of Poetry, held August 1-7, 2004, featured daily lectures, seminars, readings, and critiques of participants' work. Guest faculty included Major Jackson (2004 summer resident poet), Thomas Lux, Toi Derricotte, Baron Wormser, B. H. Fairchild, and Ellen Bryant Voigt. Allison Funk, William Wenthe, Ted Deppe, and Eloise Bruce serve as resident faculty.

Seventh Annual Levis Prize Reading
On September 16, 2004, the Department of English and the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Virginia Commonwealth University celebrated the awarding of the Seventh Annual Levis Reading Prize. Marcel Cornis-Pope, Department Chair, introduced the event. Gregory Donovan then introduced David Daniel, with his introduction including a video of Larry Levis reading "Poem Ending With a Hotel on Fire." Daniel then read from his winning book, Seven-Star Bird (Graywolf, 2003).

Larry Levis Remembered
In conjunction with the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Blackbird remembers the poet Larry Levis and features poems by this year's Levis Reading Prize winner, David Daniel.

You will also find Levis's "Poem Ending With a Hotel on Fire" and streaming video of Levis reading it; a reprinting, courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Press, of "Those Graves in Rome"; audio of Philip Levine in which he talks about his longtime friendship with Levis (including their time in Rome); Edward Byrne's essay "To Recover the Poet: Larry Levis's Elegy, The Selected Levis, and The Gazer Within"; and—forthcoming—audio recordings of the Seventh Annual Levis Prize Reading and an interview with David Daniel.

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