Don’t be constrained by the name—Southwest Review, a cosmopolitan literary journal with a strong sense of the past (and thus, a keen understanding of where we might be headed), surely isn’t. Fearlessly fascinated by the inner life, The Review showcases the essay form, with offerings on the painter Tintoretto, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and Baroness Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven, now recognized as “the great-aunt of punk” (“‘Cars and bicycles have taillights. Why not I?’ she quipped when asked to explain the battery-operated taillight tacked to the bustle of her dress.”) Chris Arthur’s “Getting Fit” offers a breathtaking description of the simultaneity of life, how, weird or wonderful as it may seem, everything everywhere—birth and death and whatever we can find to squeeze in between—is somehow happening all at once:
Comets traverse the dark of space, flowers bloom and wither, battles are fought,
a child sees the sea for the first time, a stone falls unnoticed from a cliff-side,
dislodged from its place as the soft plumage of a seabird gently corkscrews on its
nest, warming a clutch of eggs towards hatching.
Poet Kim Addonizio’s “Egg,” a graphic yet touching depiction of a young woman’s coming to terms with her inability to have a child, sinks its claws into your shoulders early on but hurts most at the end when it suddenly lets go. And John Reibetanz’s poem “The Original Human Blockhead,” based on a New York Times obituary of a sideshow performer, manages, tenderly, to make “freaks and boneheads of us all." [Southwest Review, Southern Methodist University, P.O. Box 750374, Dallas, TX 75275-0374. E-mail: . Single issue $7. www.southwestreview.org] - Ann Stapleton