Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Georgia Review Included in Anthology

If you read this blog regularly you know that one subject I come back to with monotonous regularity is The Georgia Review, the award-winning literary journal published by the University of Georgia.

I am a huge fan of the Review and the small but extremely talented staff that are the force behind the publication’s success. Within the last 21 years the Review has taken home two National Magazine Awards, the industry equivalents of the Oscars©—a phenomenal feat when one considers that the little old Review is perennially up against such behemoths as The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s and The Atlantic.

Recently, while reading my copy of Columns, the UGA newspaper for faculty and staff, I came across a small article about another success for the Review.

Here is that article, from the November 19 (Vol. 35, No. 17) Columns:

The Georgia Review, the internationally distributed literary quarterly published at UGA since 1947, has been honored by inclusion in The Best American Magazine Writing 2007 anthology, compiled by the American Society of Magazine Editors and published by Columbia University Press.

The Georgia Review’s contribution to this volume is Michael Donohue’s “Russell and Mary,” which won the 2007 National Magazine Award in the essays category—beating out entries from The New Yorker, Smithsonian, Foreign Affairs and New Letters by such well-known authors as Paul Theroux, Thomas Friedman and Calvin Trillin.

“Russell and Mary” is an account of a Brooklyn renter who attempts to piece together the lives of his elderly landlady and her long-deceased husband using a box of personal effects the couple left behind. The essay was originally published in the Review’s special 60th-anniversary double issue (fall/winter 2006).

Best American Magazine Writing will be published in December, and is available for pre-order and purchase from Columbia University Press and all major retail and online booksellers.
--Reprinted with permission
It seems as though The Georgia Review is to be congratulated yet again on another feather in its cap. How much more of this can we take?

Seriously though, the Review is a shining beacon for Georgia letters; not because it publishes Georgia writers (although it certainly does feature many), but rather because it continues to bear testimony to the fact that Georgia is a place where letters are celebrated, encouraged, and even revered.

If you get the opportunity to see The Best American Magazine Writing 2007 (pictured above), take a look at Michael Donohue’s essay and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback at

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cassandra King & I

Last night’s Cover to Cover with Cassandra King [pictured left with me in the studio after the show] was a great show; I hope you were able to listen. The topic of discussion was Cassandra's new novel, Queen of Broken Hearts (Hyperion, 2007)

What made it a great show? Well, Cassandra is a wonderfully warm and friendly person so it was an easy delight to be in her company and we had good conversations before and after the show.

We also had an awful lot of callers, which of course is one of the most significant indications of a good show (it is after all a call-in!). In fact we still had a screen full of calls at the end of the show that we didn’t have time to get to. My thanks and apologies to those who called and waited patiently on the phone but didn’t make it to air.

One of the first things Cassandra said to me when we were given the all clear by the director at the end of the show was how good the questions that came in were. I was pleased that Cassandra was pleased because one of the aspects of a call-in that makes it interesting from a programming point of view is that it’s the callers who determine the direction the discussion goes in.

I always have a list of questions to ask the Cover to Cover author should there be a lull in the phone calls, and those questions will focus on the things that I found important in the book: themes, motifs, characters etc. However, rarely do I get to ask any of them; listeners have their own questions and comments and to Hell with what St.John thinks is important!

But seriously, Cover to Cover is, and has always been, a listener-driven show because my goal is to put readers in touch with the authors they read. I believe this interaction enhances the reading experience and encourages more reading and hopefully greater recognition for our homegrown authors.

I first met Cassandra King in 2005 when she came to our studios for an interview when her third novel, The Same Sweet Girls, was published. She mentioned to me then that she’d love to be on Cover to Cover and I filed that information away in my brain. It was only earlier this year, at the Dahlonega Literary Festival back in February, that I remembered the information I had stored away. Cassandra was one of the featured authors and as soon as I saw her at one of the festival readings I recalled our earlier conversation.

In June at the Margaret Mitchell House Cassandra did a reading for an audience which was obviously familiar with her writing, and afterwards I talked to her about doing the show later in the year. November was the chosen month and, voilà, Ms. King was last night’s guest.

I mentioned that we had good questions. One caller from Tennessee was in search of some divorce counseling (bad relations between the former and current wives) and neither I nor Cassandra is a qualified therapist so we had to dance around his question and suggested that reading Queen of Broken Hearts might help!

Another caller, a student at Shorter College in Rome, GA, has chosen Queen of Broken Hearts for a drama assignment in which each student has to select a book and discuss its presentation of Southern society. The caller wanted to know why to this day there still seems to be a huge stigma associated with divorce in the South, unlike in other areas of the U.S. Great question and an interesting assignment.

A caller from Anniston, AL, asked if Cassandra King was the author’s real name or a nom de plume. The answer: it is indeed her real name, although her married name is Cassandra King Conroy (which explains the address of her website). The domain name "" was already taken when Cassandra was setting up her website, as was "," so she added her married name for the web address.

Cassandra is married to author Pat Conroy, and I asked her about the dynamics of living with another writer; do they share ideas, use each other as a sounding board, have each other read over their drafts etc.? The answer was no. Cassandra added that she doesn’t like to talk about a book while she’s working on it.

All in all a very satisfying experience. The show was videotaped, so look for that to be posted to the Cover to Cover pages of the GPB website within the next few weeks (there’s a good deal of post-production that goes into each taping), and don’t forget that the show will rebroadcast on GPB Sunday, December 9 at 10AM.

[If you have comments or questions about this, or any other, Cover to Cover blog entry, please email me at Thank you.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

November's Cover to Cover

The next edition of Cover to Cover airs this Sunday evening, November 25, at 8PM. Joining me in the studio to talk and take questions about her new novel, Queen of Broken Hearts (Hyperion, 2007), will be South Carolina author Cassandra King.

Queen of Broken Hearts is the story of Clare Ballenger, an Alabama divorce therapist who works wonders for her clients but can’t seem to work the same magic for herself or those closest to her.

From the book jacket:
"It’s not easy being the Queen of Broken Hearts. Just ask Clare, who has willingly assumed the mantle while her career as a divorce coach thrives. Now she’s preparing to open a permanent home for the retreats she leads, on a slice of breathtaking property on the Alabama coast owned by her mother-in-law. Make that former mother-in-law, a colorful eccentric who teaches Clare much about love and sacrifice and living freely.

When Clare’s marriage ends in tragedy, her work becomes the sole focus of her life. While Clare has no problem helping the hundreds of men and women who seek her advice to mend their broken hearts, healing her own is another matter entirely. Falling in love again is the last thing she wants.

So when Lex -- a charismatic, charming, burly sea captain -- moves to town to run the marina, Clare insists they remain friends and nothing more. But even though she fights it, she begins to fall for him -- and then finds she has a rival, his estranged wife Annalee.

A story infused with all the flavors, textures, and intrigues of a small Southern town, with a rich, resonant center, Queen of Broken Hearts is a bold step forward for Cassandra King."

Now, I hear some people objecting to, or at least questioning, my choice of Cassandra King for November’s show. Not because she’s not a good writer (which, of course, she is), but because she’s not a Georgia writer.

My answer is “Quite correct.” However, she was born in Alabama, lives in South Carolina, has spent a lot of time in Georgia, and is married to a Georgian. Furthermore, there are readers all over Georgia who love her books, and (and this is the crucial one) she really wanted to be on the show!

Now, when an author as accomplished and as popular as Ms. King wants to spend an hour in the Cover to Cover studio taking listener questions, who am I to say “no”? Add to that the fact that she’s married to another famous Southern author by the name of Pat Conroy, and you can see how difficult it would have been for me to refuse.

Truth be told there have been other “non-Georgian but Southern” authors on the show in its 10-year history; Elizabeth Cox (Night Talk) and Tommy Hays (In the Family Way) to name just two. So there is ample precedent for inviting Cassandra King to join us Sunday evening at 8PM. [Pictured right: Cassandra King. Photo credit: Andy Anderson]

I’ve heard King read from Queen of Broken Hearts on several occasions this year. She was one of the featured authors at the Dahlonega Literary Festival back in February, and I then attended an event she did at the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in June. I was thrilled when she signed my copy of Queen of Broken Hearts for me and wrote “It’s such an honor to sign a book for you!” Flattery, Cassandra, will get you everywhere!!

King is the author of three previous novels, Making Waves (2004), The Sunday Wife (2002), and The Same Sweet Girls (2005), as well as numerous short stories. She lives in the South Carolina Low country with her husband, Pat Conroy.

Here’s what reviewers have said about Queen of Broken Hearts:

• “King delivers what her fans want—strong bonds, strong women characters and triumph over tragedy.”—Publishers Weekly
• “King's vivid and charming portrayal of southern small-town life enriches this moving and genuine story of midlife revelations.”—Booklist
• “Cassandra King has written a wonderful and uplifting tale, about women helping other women in a small Alabama town. Full of romance and surprises along the way.”—Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
• “Queen of Broken Hearts is an absolutely fabulous story of healing and hope, filled with irresistible characters that are beautifully drawn and have great insights into life. I laughed and cried, and you will, too… I absolutely adored this book.”—Dorothea Benton Frank, author of The Land of Mango Sunsets
I know Sunday’s program will be a good one, and I hope that, wherever you may be in the world, you’ll tune in to listen and maybe even call in. We always use a toll-free number, 1-866-RADIO GA (1-866-723-4642), and the show is streamed live on the GPB website.

So join Cassandra King and myself on the radio or online Sunday evening at 8 for an hour that will focus on Queen of Broken Hearts.

Hope to hear from you.

[If you have comments or questions about this, or any other, Cover to Cover blog entry, please email me at Thank you.]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Winner of 2007 Stanley W. Lindberg Award Announced

One of the most important events in the Georgia literary calendar takes place December 1 in Athens.

The Stanley W. Lindberg Award is presented every two years “in acknowledgment and celebration of an individual’s contribution to the rich literary arts in Georgia.” As such it is a “lifetime achievement” award given to someone judged to have made a significant contribution to Georgia letters. That person may be an author, but may also be a teacher, an editor, a publisher, or even a public radio host ;-).

Stanley Lindberg was, from 1977 until his premature death in 2000, the editor of The Georgia Review, and a UGA professor of English. Under his guidance, the Review became one of the nation's most respected literary magazines; its circulation jumped 250 percent during his first 10 years as editor, and today stands at nearly 6,000 worldwide.

In the 23 years of his editorship, the journal received numerous awards, including a prestigious National Magazine Award for Fiction in 1986. It has won widespread praise for publishing fine writing by famous authors and promising newcomers.

The Lindberg Award was established in the late 1990s by a group of noted writers and members of the Athens literary community who wanted to honor Lindberg's superb editing skills and keen eye for literary talent. The first award was presented in 1999 to author Pat Conroy.

Other recipients of the award include longtime UGA English professor and writer Marion Montgomery (2001), former Georgia Poet Laureate Bettie Sellers (2003), and acclaimed novelist and Macon native Tina McElroy Ansa (2005).

Now, I know you’re all waiting for this year’s recipient to be revealed, so in order to tease you, here are a few clues:

1. Georgia novelist
2. Former newspaper theater critic
3. Several of his books have been turned into TV movies
4. He has been my guest on Cover to Cover on four different occasions
5. In an earlier posting to this blog, I described him as “arguablyGeorgia’s greatest living writer”

The 2007 winner of the Stanley W. Lindberg Award is Terry Kay (pictured above with myself in the Cover to Cover studio).

Kay has published ten novels, a book of essays, and a children’s book; he was a 2006 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame; he won the 2004 Townsend Prize, Georgia’s highest fiction award, for The Valley of Light; and he is a readers’ favorite all across this state and beyond.

One thing about Terry Kay that the average reader doesn’t know is that he is a firm believer in the community of writers and will go to great lengths to encourage emerging writers and support others in their craft.

Kay was one of the Lindberg Award directors when I joined the board back in 2000. Besides him, the other directors included such literary luminaries as James Kilgo, Philip Lee Williams, Judy Long, editor-in-chief at Hill Street Press in Athens, and Charlotte Mealor who was for many years the business manager of The Georgia Review.

The discussions we would have about potential nominees were fascinating, and the communal knowledge of Georgia letters collected in whatever room we met in was incredible.

Terry Kay is no longer a Lindberg Award director. One of our stipulations has always been that no director can be nominated; that would (rightly) seem incestuous.

I can think of no other person in this state who deserves this award than Terry Kay. His contribution to the literature and literary life of this state is almost immeasurable, and I stand by my earlier statement that he is as “arguably Georgia’s greatest living writer.”

The 2007 Stanley W. Lindberg Award will be presented to Terry Kay at a celebration at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens on Saturday, December 1 at 8PM. I will be hosting the event, and Terry Kay will be introduced by his old friend Anne Rivers Siddons.

The event is open to the public, and tickets may be purchased through the Georgia Center for the Book, co-sponsor of the Award. Click here for details.

This is sure to be a great occasion and I hope you’ll be able to join us for a very special evening.

And finally, congratulations to Terry Kay!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Introducing Will Parker

I said in a recent blog entry (“William C. Harris Returns,” 10/31/07) that I have a special admiration for “gentleman authors,” those for whom writing is an avocation. Among Georgia gentleman authors are William C. Harris, William Rawlings, Jr., and, of course, the granddaddy of them all, Ferrol Sams.

Now there’s a new one to add to the list: Andy Harp.

Harp, who lives in Columbus, GA, is a civil trial attorney in a practice built around the representation of injured railroad workers. Prior to entering private practice, he worked as a District Attorney in Cordele, GA. He earned his law degree from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in 1980.

Not only is Harp an attorney, he’s also a retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve colonel. He graduated from American University (which he attended on an athletic scholarship) in 1973 and signed up with the Marines.

As a young officer, he served with both the artillery and a small mountain warfare/arctic instructor survival group. He was a Regimental Battery Commander with the 11th Marines, and became Instructor in Charge of the Instructor Group at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. He also trained in the Arctic Circle and at Fort Greely, Alaska, where a typical day was 44˚ below zero. While in the Arctic and at Bridgeport, he lived in ice caves, rappelled off cliffs and out of helicopters, taught military cross country skiing, and taught both mountain and cold weather survival.

Once his legal career began, Harp continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserves, rising through the ranks to become a colonel.

As a logistics officer he served in South Korea, Central America, the Persian Gulf, Europe, and at the Pentagon where he was assigned to the Secretary of Defense’s Executive Support Center and to Reserve Affairs.

His final posting before retiring saw him serve as the Officer in Charge of the Crisis Action Team for Marine Forces Central Command and Marine Forces Pacific.

In 1997, he was elected National President of the Marine Corps Reserve Officer’s Association. His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal.

Now I don’t know much about military service, but I can tell that Harp’s time in the USMCR was action-packed and extraordinary. His bio reads like that of an action hero such as Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan or Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne.

It should come as no surprise then to learn that Andy Harp, gentleman author, has just published his first novel and it’s a military/techno thriller titled A Northern Thunder (Bancroft Press, 2007).

In his debut, Harp introduces Will Parker, a Marine reservist plucked from retirement with a mission to infiltrate North Korea and identify the communist country’s leading military scientist, a former roommate of Parker's, who’s developing missile technology to undermine other countries’ satellite surveillance systems.

Parker’s mission is made all the more difficult when the North Koreans dispatch their top assassin to eliminate any international competitors or obstacles that might hinder their deadly project.

Now, Will Parker is not just a retired USMC reservist, he’s also a small-town Georgia lawyer. Who else do we know with such a résumé? Mr. Harp himself of course!

Although I have not yet read A Northern Thunder, I suspect that Harp’s bio gives Will Parker an authenticity that will resonate with readers, particularly those with a military background.

Harp’s plot is well chosen with the North Korean nuclear threat currently looming in the American psyche. The terrifying possibility of North Korea firing a preemptive nuclear strike against the U.S. has been played out in the international media for the last few years and international diplomacy has so far failed to come up with a permanent resolution to such a threat. A Northern Thunder has an eerie timeliness about it.

The release of A Northern Thunder will be tomorrow, November 15, at 7PM, at a book signing at Barnes & Noble, 2900 Peachtree Road, in Atlanta’s Buckhead.

In conjunction with the release, Harp has launched the book on the web at, and also with a video book trailer, produced by Hollywood filmmaker Jordan Bloch, on YouTube.

As Harp says in the media press release,
“We wanted to release this book in a big way. While it is fiction, A Northern Thunder exposes some mind-blowing military satellite and other technology that is little known, but certainly in existence…. Even more than being a page-turner, I wanted this book to be realistic.”
Publishers Weekly has said of A Northern Thunder:

“The secondary characters aren’t nearly as convincing as Harp’s descriptions of satellite technology, submersible suits, and the like. But Parker has resilience, foresight, and fortitude to spare, and North Korea’s repressive regime and rugged terrain make for deadly opponents.”
I’m not qualified at this point to offer an opinion as to whether or not Harp has achieved what he set out to. I am just impressed by another “gentleman author” who has, by dint of sheer force of will, written and published a book that may turn out to be a huge seller.

Congratulations to another emerging Georgia author.

[I welcome your comments and questions about this or any other Cover to Cover blog entry. Email me at I look forward to hearing from you.]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Little Salvation

A question for you: who is Georgia’s greatest living poet?

Regular readers of this blog will remember my August 28 post titled “Three Women Poets from Georgia.” One of the three, Natasha Trethewey, won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her third collection Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006).

A graduate of the University of Georgia and now on the faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, Natasha Trethewey might therefore be considered Georgia’s greatest living poet.

Since 2000, when he was appointed by Governor Roy Barnes, David Bottoms has been the Georgia’s Poet Laureate. The Georgia State University professor garnered national attention when his first book of poetry, Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump, was chosen by Robert Penn Warren from a pool of more than 1,300 as the winner of the 1979 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets.

Bottoms has published a further five collections of poems and two novels. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and was awarded the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine. His poems have appeared in such publications as Harper’s, the New Yorker, the Atlantic and Poetry.

David Bottoms, therefore, might be considered Georgia’s greatest living poet.

And let’s not forget Bettie Sellers, poet of the North Georgia Mountains, who for many years taught at Young Harris College. She received a Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 1987, and in 1997 she was named Poet Laureate of Georgia by then Governor Zell Miller. In 2003 she received the Stanley W. Lindberg Award which recognizes outstanding contributions to the literary life of Georgia.

Sellers has published four collections of poems and a study of the life of Byron Herbert Reece, another North Georgia poet who taught at Young Harris until his suicide in 1958. Now in her early 80’s, Sellers has been a longtime influence on the poetic life of this state.

Bettie Sellers might then be considered Georgia’s greatest living poet.

But now I’d like you to consider another name, one you might be familiar with as a novelist rather than a poet.

Judson Mitcham is the only Georgia novelist to have won the Townsend Prize, Georgia’s top fiction award, twice; in 1998 for The Sweet Everlasting and again in 2006 for Sabbath Creek.
Recognized as a superb fiction writer, Mitcham is actually primarily a poet. His first collection, Somewhere in Ecclesiastes, was published by the University of Missouri Press in 1991 and won the Devins Award. In 2003, This April Day came out from Anhinga Press.

His poems have appeared in such publications as Harper’s, the Georgia Review, the Chattahoochee Review, the Gettysburg Review, Poetry and the Southern Review.

Mitcham, who for thirty years taught psychology at Fort Valley State University before retiring in 2004, now has a third collection to his name.

The University of Georgia Press has just published A Little Salvation: Poems Old and New.
The “old” poems are from his previous two collections, but the “new” poems refer to forty-two new pieces, each with one-word titles and arranged alphabetically from “Art” to “Zero,” in the book’s first section Oblique Lexicon.

There follow twenty-three pieces from Somewhere in Ecclesiastes in section two and thirty-two from This April Day in section three.

Writing in The New Georgia Encyclopedia Companion to Georgia Literature, UGA English professor Hugh Ruppersburg encapsulates Mitcham’s writing in the following way:

Examining basic human themes within the specific landscape of Georgia, Judson Mitcham’s writing is both poignant and powerful…. In both his novels and his poetry, Mitcham’s elegiac voice looks backwards with fondness and discernment on a personal and regional past slipping rapidly beyond reach.
That sense of loss Ruppersburg identifies, a sense that what has passed meant something but what is to come has no meaning, is easily noted in poems in Oblique Lexicon such as “Never,” “Lyric,” and “Dead.”

The press materials accompanying the review copy of A Little Salvation, describe the collection with these words:

Wise, witty, and deceptively plainspoken, Mitcham’s poems show how the moments that truly save us—that make us human—are necessarily the most fleeting. It is up to us, he reminds us, to create meaning from those moments, and in doing so to create our own salvation.
The transitory nature of human experience is both the boon and the bane of the existence of the speakers in these poems, and every poem seems to recognize its own temporality, trying to find meaning rather than a definitive answer to the questions it raises. The tone of these poems combines a strong sense of humor with a pervasive feeling of loss, both celebrating and mourning that “a true note is still so hard to hit.” These voices revel in the human condition even as they are often saddened by it.
Mitcham, who now teaches creative writing at Mercer University in Macon, is one of those rare birds who has never had any formal literary training. His degrees are in psychology and he spent thirty odd years as a college professor teaching in his area. His writing has been nothing more than an avocation, all be it a fairly serious one.

Now, with the publication of A Little Salvation, I offer you Judson Mitcham as a potential candidate for the accolade of Georgia’s greatest living poet.

The competition is stiff. You decide.

[Comments and questions about all these blog entries are encouraged. Email me at I look forward to hearing from you.]

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Never Knew There Was So Much In It!

They say that good things come in little parcels. That certainly is true for a book that came in the mail back in September. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to write a blog entry about it since it arrived, and now I guess is the time.

Museums of Atlanta: A Guide for Residents and Visitors (Westholme Publishing, 2006) details a surprising 68 museums located in Metro Atlanta. Written by Scott W. Hawley and Kevin L. Crowe, this pocket-sized book lists complete contact information, hours of operation and admission charges, and even has a listing of museums by type.

Listed in the Appendix are the Ten Museums for Children, for Teenagers, for Art and Architecture, for the Civil War, and for Science and Technology, to name just a few.

The Top Ten “Essential” Museums listed will come as no surprise: The High, Atlanta Cyclorama, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the Margaret Mitchell House etc. Some of the lesser known places, however, are in some ways more fascinating than the “big boys.”

For example, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is the only institution in the U.S. to specialize in works “by and about women of the African diaspora.” The museum traces its origins back to 1899.

Georgia Tech is home to a very unusual museum that sounds absolutely fascinating. The Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking is located in Tech’s Institute of Paper Science and Technology.

Invented in AD 105 by a Chinese government official, paper is one of the most basic elements in our daily lives. The museum documents the origins and global spread of paper from China to Korea, Japan and on to Europe, and also focuses on the history of the first paper mill in Georgia built at Scull Shoals on the Oconee River by Zachariah Sims in 1811.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) in Downtown is “one of only a handful of museums in the United States dedicated exclusively to design.” An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, MODA’s mission is to “explore the impact of design on our daily lives.”

Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum was founded in 1920. Filled with works of art from Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Near East and Pre-Columbian America, the museum houses the largest collection of ancient art in the Southeast. The Carlos also holds collections of sub-Saharan African art and European and American woodcuttings and sketches.

For Civil War enthusiasts there’s the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield, the Southern Museum of the Civil War & Locomotive History and the Marietta Museum of History.
If you prefer your Civil War fictionalized there are three museums devoted to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in Midtown, the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square, and the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro.

Authors Scott Hawley and Kevin Crow have produced an invaluable resource for residents and travelers alike, and this little book (140 pp) should do wonders for Atlanta’s cultural tourism.

When I was growing up in Britain, one of the magazines that could regularly be found in our house was the TV Times, the British equivalent of TV Guide if you like. I remember one of the magazine’s ad campaigns on TV that included the slogan “I never knew there was so much in it!”

The same can be said both for Hawley and Crow’s Museums of Atlanta, and indeed for Atlanta itself.

[I always welcome feedback to my blog entries. If you have comments or questions about this entry, please email me at]

Monday, November 5, 2007

Georgia Reviews

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will remember that at the beginning of August I posted an entry about the latest issue of The Georgia Review (August 8, 2007). I sang its praises, describing it as “one of this country’s outstanding literary magazines.” Deserved praise this was.

I recently received the fall 2007 issue in the mail and it is as exciting and as cutting edge as ever.

“Cutting edge” is not a phrase many would think of attributing to the journal. It has always maintained a somewhat staid persona, but this has always been deceptive. The contents have always brought new, bold and progressive authors and artists to the attention of the literati. The current issue is no different. The cover is a striking image that, with a casual glance, you might think is a Vermeer painting. In fact it’s a photo image by the photojournalists Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson whose work is the featured art in this issue.

When the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003, the two photojournalists traveled to the country and began a project to document the other side of the conflict: the effect of the war on the lives of Iraqi citizens.

In 2005 both Alford and Thorne, along with two other photojournalists, produced a book that includes some of the photos that appear in The Georgia Review. The book, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, is called Unembedded: Four Independent Journalists on the War in Iraq.

It’s not just the Review’s art that is “edgy.” The literary stuff is too. For me, one of the highlights of this issue is the first published fiction of Georgia author Janisse Ray.

Ray has made an impression with such nonfiction works as Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home. She has appeared on Cover to Cover, March 2000, and certainly made an impression on me.

Her contribution to the Review is a fiction piece entitled Pilgrimage. Ray proves that she’s a literary heavyweight by conquering both literary nonfiction and now fiction. She’s a Georgia author to watch and to read.

Ray is not the only Georgia author represented in this issue. Kennesaw State University creative writing professor Greg Johnson also appears. Johnson is the author of twelve volumes of fiction, poetry, criticism and biography. He was my guest on Cover to Cover in March 1999 when we talked and took calls about his short story collection Distant Friends.

In the Review, Johnson contributes an extended critique of five recently published short story anthologies entitled The Best and the Briefest.

The issue contains the usual mix of fiction, essay, art, poetry and reviews, and it also marks a milestone. For thirty years, Gerald Weales has contributed his annual fall American Theater Watch. Weales is an octogenarian who completed his Ph.D. at Columbia and has devoted his life to teaching and reviewing drama.

I noticed on the title page of this issue that there’s a new member of the Review’s editorial board. Sarah Spence is a professor of Classics at UGA. Her research interests focus primarily on Vergil’s Aeneid, but she is also an expert on the literature of Medieval France. (She was also my major professor when I was working on my Ph.D. at UGA. I’m embarrassed to say that I never completed my dissertation and I know this must have been a great disappointment to her).

For eight years Spence was the founding editor of Literary Imagination, the official journal of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. Both the ALSC and Literary Imagination began as a reaction to the trend in American literary studies away from the beauty of the text itself to the social contexts of such art.

Spence is one of those critics who believes in the primacy of the literary text above all else. Her addition to the editorial board of The Georgia Review can only mean good things.

The Chattahoochee Review is published by Georgia Perimeter College, part of the University System of Georgia. The editor is the young and dynamic Marc Fitten, a man who is totally immersed in all things literary. Marc is an acquaintance and I can vouch for his literariness, or is that literarality?

The spring/summer 2007 issue of The Chattahoochee Review features a special focus section on Georgia author Byron Herbert Reece. Included are poems by Reece as well as some previously unpublished writing by him.

The special section also includes articles by Hugh Ruppersburg and Terry Kay. Ruppersburg is the Senior Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at UGA and also a professor of English specializing in Southern Literature. His article is titled “Ralph McGill, Jesse Stuart and the Rise of Byron Herbert Reece.”

Terry Kay’s contribution is “Some Thoughts on Reece, Religion and the Dramatic Moment.” While unusual to see a critical rather than literary piece from Kay, no one is more familiar with or more qualified to comment on Reece’s work. Both authors share a common heritage and a developed literary vision, and both come from North Georgia farming stock.

Mildred Greear, a member of the Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Advisory Board and resident of Helen, Georgia, contributes “Emma’s Lullaby,” a poem prefaced by the dedication “In memoriam Emma Law, mother of Byron Herbert Reece.”

There are other Georgia contributors to this volume of The Chattahoochee Review. Thomas Lux, who holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Tech where he directs the McEver Visiting Writers Program, has four poems in the volume, and David Ingle, assistant editor of The Georgia Review, has one.

There are also poems by two faculty members teaching literature and creative writing at the University of West Georgia: Chad Davidson ("American Cheerleader" and "Nostos") and Gregory Fraser ("Blood" and "Stubble").

Robert Parham, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Augusta State University and editor of the Southern Poetry Review, also has a poem, "A Mother’s Laugh," published in this issue.

Even though The Chattahoochee Review is a national, even international, review, this issue is well-represented by Georgia authors. Thank you Marc Fitten and these Georgia poets and critics.

I hope the preceding shows you the breadth and depth of the literature that is published in this state and spurs you to rejoice in Georgia’s literary legacy. We are fortunate to be surrounded by such creativity and quality. Thank you Georgia!

[Comments? Questions? Email me at I look forward to hearing from you.]