This issue of the internationally-renown literary journal is dedicated in memory to Virginia Spencer Carr who had passed in April of this year. Dr. Carr left a brimming trove of literary scholarship in her decades as a writer, researcher and professor, including what is considered her masterpiece biography: “The Lonely Hunter,” about Carson McCullers who was often critically classified as a Southern Realist. McCullers, Carr, and this journal share an affiliation—formal or otherwise—with the American South, including but not limited to Georgia State University, which sponsors Five Points, and where Dr. Carr taught for over two decades.
I read this publication twice in its entirety and several more times in parts with an ink pen. I found Debra Spark’s “Little World” to be an essential prose contribution to perceptions of Western expectations. I can’t divulge the shock of the ending, but this idea of literature and art in a “post-urban landscape” becomes pointedly applicable when the reader completes the short story.
Spark keeps good company with George Singelton’s “Ray Charles Shoots Wife Quenching Earth,” which is technically brilliant in its thematic cohesiveness, and with James Rioux’s essay, “Tattoos, Death Metal, Shaving, and Other Ironies,” that is so well-crafted on the plane of language poetry that the lines leap off the page and demand better placement, although they fit fine exactly where they are—ribbing the piece with beauty.
I appreciated the coverage of A.E. Stallings both in Beth Gylys’s interview with her four contributing poems. The interview provides excellent insight to Stallings’s craft as well as biography that illuminates instances of Stallings’s subject matter or even the complexity of emotion that is delivered powerfully, metrically.
I have to admit that the epitaph honoring Dr. Carr sent me straight out of urban Birmingham to New York and back South again, trying to understand the framework in which this journal was cast. I read McCuller’s prose and poetry but couldn’t obtain Dr. Carr’s landmark biography by e-Book, audio-book, or in our local bookstore. I wondered if the various movements of the literary South had permuted into anything that could survive in the new landscape. Of course, it does, and it does so in its own way. The journal is not “about” the South in subject choices or in stylistic execution; there are Greek poets with roots in Georgia, English-professor emissaries to Czech outparcels wobbling on democracy, a musician with an online moniker and a brilliant turn of phrase, a veteran of the Afghani War, a Fulbright winner who grew up down the block in Louisville Kentucky . . .
In review of the literature in this issue, we do not have a story that is prescript, even as many of the writers have at one time or another called the South home. Perhaps all of us Americans who are not “Northerners” are all “Southerners” in non-obvious ways, and we cannot be classified as quickly and easily as “Southern Gothic” or “Southern Realists” or any other tag slapped on a heritage—no quick-fix identity politics here. And maybe there’s time in this fluidity of place, a kind of salve in the philosophy of diversity, that in a global village we who read and write are all just down the block from each other, in the words of Carson McCullers, together “watch twice the orchard blossoms in gray rain,” or as Edward Hirsch puts it in “Two Clowns” that opens the issue: “a faint needle of moonlight threaded / the branches and we stumbled back / onto the path to circle home.”