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.

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.]