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Shenandoah – Spring/Summer 2004

At least half of the stories, poems and essays in Shenandoah feature explicitly southern environs: a contemplation of the moniker, “Southern Writer,” a reflection on the racial understory of magnolia-blossomed Mississippi, a woman’s return to the Carolina blackberry patches (and chigger bites) of her youth.

At least half of the stories, poems and essays in Shenandoah feature explicitly southern environs: a contemplation of the moniker, “Southern Writer,” a reflection on the racial understory of magnolia-blossomed Mississippi, a woman’s return to the Carolina blackberry patches (and chigger bites) of her youth. However, it’s the artistry, not the regionalism, that distinguishes the most vivid writing in Shenandoah; personal, penetrating, savingly unsentimental. Some enticing opening lines of poetry: “Always my grandparents arrived/disguised as harmless elders.” (Andrea Hollander Budy); “Let’s say the self is a story.” (Forrest Hamer). Some of the most arresting short stories deal with personal violence – a woman slugs the hated tattoo on her husband’s chest, a millworker is run through the stomach with a wooden board and an eldest brother protects his younger brothers from their violent father. Society is always the conspirator, but you’ll find no facile conclusions here. The magazine boasts an acclaimed fifty-four year history without shunning currently fashionable forms like the short-short story. Some stories offer their insights by flicker, others, by floodlight. As the editor accurately calls it in the introductory pages, the journal is an investment in beauty. – LKB

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