Jason Sanford, the founding editor of this literary magazine is stepping down after seven years at the helm and ceding his position to Spring Garden Press out of Greensboro, N.C. He will, however, continue to direct the wonderful and very needed Million Writers Award. As his farewell salute, he has presented a selection of the best fiction, essays, and poetry from the last seven years.
“Welcome to Richmond, Miss Welty,” is a chatty essay by Tyler Scott about an afternoon she passed with the famous author at the height of her career. She gives us a humorous opening: “Colette said she couldn’t come because her Christmas cactus was about to bloom; Flaubert didn’t respond; Truman Capote was cruising in the Mediterranean with Babe Paley; Jane Austen was suffering from a cold and wanted to come when she felt better. Only Eudora Welty responded.” A better essay with more depth is “Hiding Harper Lee,” by W.A. Bilen, a nice snapshot of the reclusive writer that also quotes liberally from her famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
In the poetry section, “Watching Buzzards” by Cassie Sparkman is a powerful and evocative piece that grasps the essence of depression with the lines, “You want to lay with a dying animal, roll in rotting leaves with it, hope that when the birds drop to feed, they do not distinguish between the animal and you.” Just as poignant is the dual language poem “Posterity/Posteridad” by Lisette Garcia, about a mother burying her son after his violent confrontation with the police. Also notable is “Some Folks…” by Tony Tost which makes good use of the free association technique.
Among the short stories is Josh Shepherd’s “The Philosophical History of Corpus Christi, Mississippi,” which traces the fever and death of an anonymous colonel who passes into the afterlife where he communes with the very sardonic William Faulkner. The colonel is angry about losing his wife, while the great writer has bigger concerns on his mind. It’s a good one to read, as are all the selections in this compendium of seven years of hard work.