About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette Black
features Route 360. Virginia, 1964 by Emmet Gowin, professor
of photography at Princeton University. A retrospective of his work,
Emmet Gowin/Photographs: This Vegetable Earth Is but a Shadow,
was published in 1990 by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His award-winning
work is represented by Pace Wildenstein MacGill Gallery in New York.
Our masthead describes us as an “international
journal of literature, culture and the arts.” A lofty claim,
perhaps, but a look at what we have put together for you in this
first issue of the year may well bear it out.
We celebrate the “international” directly
with a trio of works centering on Polish poetry. MARK RUDMAN’s essay
on the prose and poetry of Nobel Prize winner CZESLAW MILOSZ is
followed by JOANNA TRZECIAK’s new translation of three of Nobelist
WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA’s poems. And JOHN CARPENTER reviews books of
poetry by Milosz, Szymborska, and a third Polish poet, ANNA SWIR.
And, not at all incidentally, we’re pleased to
say that, with the support of a generous grant from the Witter Bynner
Foundation for Poetry, you will be finding much more of the art
and craft of poetry in translation in coming issues. We will also
be commissioning new essays exploring the theoretical dimension
and challenges of translation.
This issue marks the return to KR‘s pages,
after too long a hiatus, of writing for the stage. Playwright and
screenwriter WENDY MACLEOD has joined us as drama editor and her
first selection is an excerpt from JULIE JENSEN’s moving Last
Lists of My Mad Mother. MacLeod’s appointment affirms KR‘s
commitment to represent as completely as possible outstanding new
writing in the full range of culture and the arts.
Accompanying Jensen’s portrayal of struggle with
life’s hard choices are ALBERT GOLDBARTH’s catalog of life’s lies,
STEPHEN DUNN’s view of its contradictions, and A.R. AMMONS’ vigorous
view on the compulsion toward inaction.
Literary criticism has been, is, a significant
feature of the Kenyon Review. GORDON HUTNER, in discussing the career
of early 20th-century critic HENRY SIDEL CANBY, examines how criticism
came to play so central a role in American culture in decades past
and its more problematic isolation today. We’ve followed Hutner’s
essay with four poems, by ROBERT GIBB, ELEANOR ROSS TAYLOR, GEORGE
KEITHLEY, and ANN TOWNSEND, that approach–or may be interpreted
as approaching–what Hutner and Canby describe as “the seismic
power inhering in the representation of bourgeois America.”
KR Poetry Editor David Baker describes
ROBERT WRIGLEY’s “Conjure” as “perfect–and perfectly
beautiful.” We obviously agree and have used it to lead off
this issue that is packed with some of the best new poetry you’re
likely to find anywhere.
As noted before in this space, selection of material
for any given issue of the Review extends over many months and even
years and there is, with the notable exception of special issues
such as Lewis Hyde’s Winter 1997 issue on American memory, no conscious
attempt at thematic grouping. Our focus is on gathering the best
new writing and thought. Still, themes inevitably do present themselves
after the fact. For example, our managing editor has wryly pointed
out to me that in this issue we have stories about a psychic horse,
a talking dog, a burning cow, a rat massacre and herds of reindeer.
The psychic horse appears in CARY HOLLADAY’s moving
story of a fatherless post-World War I family. Grouped with the
story are poems by PHILIP BOOTH and ELLEN CANTOR evoking images
of fathers lost, in one way or another, in World War II.
The talking dog appears in RANDY NELSON’s moving–disturbing–portrait
of a family. With this appear three exotically flavored groups of
poems on disfunctioning and distance: STUART LISHAN’s haunting poetic
“Songs of Separation,” BINO REALUYO’s “A Night in
Dubai,” and DEANNE LUNDIN’s musings among “Poppies”
and “Chicory Seeds.”
The burning cow figures in JOSIP NOVAKOVICH’s
story of an eastern European child’s struggle with death and is
followed by poems by JESSE LEE KERCHEVAL and PETER COOLEY in which
death gains an upper hand.
MIKE LOHRE, a new writer of energy and talent,
uses the rat massacre in his story of growing up in rural America.
Presented with Lohre’s piece are poetry sets by CAMPBELL MCGRATH
and ROBERT MORGAN examining backwater darkness and light and a searing
set by THYLIAS MOSS on some surprises there.
The reindeer? No Christmas cookies here as MIRA
BARTOK-BARATTA gives us a compelling essay on family ties connecting
Cleveland and northern Scandinavia. Further windows into family
life in the “memorable speech” of poetry follow in the
works of OLENA KALYTIAK, MICHAEL HEFFERMAN, BOB HICOK, and JOYCE
Finally, in our Kenyon Classics department, we
offer a juxtaposition of two outstanding women writers as JOYCE
CAROL OATES takes a retrospective look at a classic FLANNERY O’CONNOR
work which first appeared in the Review.
You may have discerned that I’m immensely pleased
with what we’ve been able to put together for you in this issue.
I’m also greatly pleased to salute two organizations that have,
as sponsoring “co-publishers” of this issue, played a
major role in bringing this fine work to you. Bloomberg News of
New York and Baker Lorenz of London have contributed generously
to make this “international journal of literature, culture
and the arts” possible.