blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1
poetry fiction nonfiction gallery features browse

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

Copyright © 2007 by Blackbird and the individual writers and artists

ISSN 1540-3068


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Arts Fund

Virginia Commission for the Arts


  Camille Zakharia
  Camille Zakharia
  Leigh Anne Couch
  Leigh Anne Couch
  William Henry Lewis
  William Henry Lewis
  Twilight Greenaway
  Twilight Greenaway
  Michael Kardos
  Michael Kardos
  Catherine Daly
   Catherine Daly

This spring issue of Blackbird features our Introductions Loop, an opportunity to encourage a closer look at six artists whose work you may not yet know. Kathy Davis manages to explore fire and dragons—and Minnie Pearl. Adam Day takes us on journeys freighted with unexpected heavy baggage. AJ Liberto uses our familiarity with stop-and-click online shopping to make us examine the presented merchandise with more than the usual care and with a levity restrained by commentary in commodity. The selected fiction writers, Kavita Dorai, Anne Germanacos, and Richard Jespers, tell stories in quite disparate forms, yet all three stories set their sights on the payment exacted by the years and presented for collection here in ways that surprise and strongly engage us.

In fact, throughout the journal, many works here ask us to respond with particular attention to the variety and subtlety of methods employed to tell a story, as well as the ways narrative directs the choices of their contributors, noting, for example, how we traverse Michael Snediker’s short lines “first / and then / the other.” Beth Ann Fennelly’s richly complex poem “The Kudzu Chronicles” takes on the shape and the acquisitive nature of the vine it describes and, like kudzu, crawls with equal speed over the amusing and the profound. David Huddle has written a literal shaggy dog story. Mary Creswell offers a shadow narrative, her poem recalling only the notes to a lost plot.

William Henry Lewis plays as a narrative sideman, keeping off the beat, leaving his options open. In an upcoming feature, Lewis will discuss his process of revising “Three Missives,” giving us a chance to see how carefully one goes about honing an apparently spontaneous sound. Michael Griffith has sent a chapter from a novel that exercises the funny bone at the expense of evangelical, fundamentalist baseball. Court Merrigan and Michael Kardos each work a spell of redemption in locations as disparate as rural Japan and a suburban American Wawa.

Margaret Gibson’s “The Queen of Hearts” is a chapter from a memoir set here in Richmond. She recalls with pained accuracy that time of adolescent hell which masqueraded under the names of late middle and early high school. Also in Nonfiction, Hal Crowther provides an appreciation of Robert D. Richardson’s ability to use narrative to illuminate the life of the mind, and Richardson himself offers a lecture about his treatment of that life in his biography of William James that was published last fall (and excerpted in Blackbird, v5n2). Laura Browder explains the process of being a writer, interviewer, and commentator for a documentary about Asa Carter, a white supremacist who later poses as the Cherokee author of The Education of Little Tree.  Transcribed here is Ellen Bryant Voigt’s spirited and informative Q & A session recorded when she visited on the occasion of the publication of her volume of new and selected poems. Ron Slate’s critical essay and reviews by Amy Unsworth, Anna Journey, and Michele Poulos of new books round out the section.

The Gallery features two interactive pieces created for Blackbird, Liberto’s Critters and Kevin Hamilton’s Department of Rhythmnanalysis: On Location. Hamilton invites us, as he notes, to examine interactively “the ways in which we construct self and other through mistaking the static for dynamic, and the dynamic for static.” In his second column for the journal , John Ravenal of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers a curator's commentary Kehinde Wiley's Willem van Heythusen. In addition, we we explore the work of the Lebanese-born Canadian photographer Camille Zakharia in a collection brought to us by Blackbird’s Jeff Lodge from an exhibition at the VCUQ Gallery in Doha, Qatar. By means of image and narratives in images, both factual and imagined, Zakharia’s work examines the inner selves of Lebanese immigrants. As Judy Bullington states in the show's catalogue, “photographic montages and collages of people and places, of transformed architectural facades and interiors, function as visual equivalents for spaces created by the displaced ‘self’ for the commingling of memory and desire.”

Memory and desire loop us back to the volatile question of narrative and the tools we marshal to tell stories or to imply them. As Leigh Ann Couch warns in her poem “I am not a man; I am dynamite,”

A syllable is
a latch, this word a door you shouldn’t
have opened on a room, its very air
unstable with history.

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

Tracking the Muse:
Four Writers on Process

Bonus materials added during after May publication also include commentary and video added to Kevin Hamilton’s suite in Gallery and images added to Dan O’Brien’s The Dear Boy

Arnoult, Fisher-Wirth, Crowther, Slate, Vap

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In Memoriam
We extend our thoughts and condolences to the Virginia Tech Community and everyone touched by the recent sorrowful events in Blacksburg, Virginia.