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The Louisville Review – Fall 2005

This issue’s guest editors, Crystal Wilkinson, a professor of creative writing at the University of Indiana, and award-winning poet, Debra Kang Dean, have selected four stories, five essays, and fifty pages of poetry by established and emerging writers. I was struck by the volume’s unifying tone, which might be best described as poignant — quiet, traditional work, deeply felt, writing that is both psychologically astute and moving. Edmund August gets my vote for the most poignant title in the issue, perhaps for one of the most poignant titles of all-time: “How Will We Know Which One of Us Died First?” This issue’s guest editors, Crystal Wilkinson, a professor of creative writing at the University of Indiana, and award-winning poet, Debra Kang Dean, have selected four stories, five essays, and fifty pages of poetry by established and emerging writers. I was struck by the volume’s unifying tone, which might be best described as poignant — quiet, traditional work, deeply felt, writing that is both psychologically astute and moving. Edmund August gets my vote for the most poignant title in the issue, perhaps for one of the most poignant titles of all-time: “How Will We Know Which One of Us Died First?”—

From you I learned to listen for your listening,
learned to crumble cornbread
into a glass of sweet milk
without my glasses.
A small feat.
Much smaller than the sound of you
biting your nails
as I dress for a trip to the barber and a stop, after,
to endure the whoosh and plop of snowballs
children use to execute me
for sitting under a hat too silly
for a man in the park
under the sun.

I credit Lyn Lifshin with one of the most moving conclusions with these final lines to her poem, “When Spring Melts the Ground,” a poem that considers the response of the dead to the new season: “It does / not hurt to know somebody / kneeling in wet grass / is as lonely.” Essays by Kathy Hayes concerning, literally, “big jumps” she and her son were both compelled to risk (sky diving, bridge jumping); by Leslie Smith Townsend coming to terms with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease; and by Victoria Moon about overcoming a fear of the water, are carefully crafted and emotionally satisfying. A long story by Tess Uriza Holthe, “Homecoming,” about a young French widow’s regrets, is a two-handkerchief affair. One piece that deviates considerably from the general emotional tenor of the issue is Kim Dana Kupperman’s essay, “Nine Segments of Orange,” about the writer’s experience, over time, of the color orange, prompted by the Security Code Alert system. [The Louisville Review, Spalding University, 851 S. Fourth St., Louisville, KY 40203. Single issue $8. www.louisvillereview.org–Sima Rabinowitz

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