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Review :: “To the Quick” by Karen McPherson

Southern Humanities Review volume 55 numbers 3 and 4 cover image

Post by Denise Hill

“To the Quick” by Karen McPherson is a brief poem made up of three tercets. It’s a poem of wizened recognitions that can truly only come with age, which the narrator acknowledges in her skin, “Hardening. // Softening. Veined and rugose.” where she wears her weariness for “hoarding my personal past while coveting others’ futures – ” (How does McPherson know my mind so well?) The speaker goes on to forgive and make plans, trim a kitten’s claws and compare those clever little mechanisms to her own nails, exposed and absurd as a result of tearing “away soft crescents with my teeth.” “To the Quick” delivers readers as promised, to that pit inside that yearns for understanding and connection while at the same time being fully grounded in the concrete non-attachment to time, which moves steadily forward. We eventually figure some things out, “forgive the lapses,” and remain mystified all the same. McPherson succinctly finds that sweet spot in “To the Quick.”


“To the Quick” by Karen McPherson. Southern Humanities Review, v. 55 nos. 3&4.

Reviewer bio: Denise Hill is the Editor of NewPages.com, which welcomes reviews of books as well as individual poems, stories, and essays. If you are interested in contributing a Guest Post to “What I’m Reading,” please click this link: NewPages.com Reviewer Guidelines.

Magazine Stand :: Southern Humanities Review – 55.3&4

Southern Humanities Review volume 55 numbers 3 and 4 cover image

From the Department of English at Auburn University, this Southern Humanities Review is a double issue and their 2022 Witness Poetry Prize Issue, featuring the winner, “Tulsa Triptych” by Daniel Donaghy as well as poems from finalists as judged by poet Rick Barot. The rest of the issue is filled with nonfiction by Kate Lister Campbell, Gage Saylor, Caroline Sutton, and Justin Jannise; fiction by Talia Lakshmi Kolluri, Rachael Fowler, Max Hipp, John Kim, Greg Tebbano, Neal Hammons, and Stephanie Macias; poetry by Nicole Stockburger, Ashley Kunsa, Tennessee Hill, Desiree Santana, Jubi Arriola-Headley, M. Cynthia Cheung, Jacob Griffin Hall, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, emet ezell, Marissa Davis, Cindy Juyoung Ok, Jai Hamid Bashir, Benjamin S. Grossberg, Jamie L. Smith, Helena Mesa, Zoë Fay-Stindt, Julia C. Alter, Aneeqa Wattoo, Adam J. Gellings, B. Tyler Lee, Ajay Sawant, Piedad Bonnett, and Karen McPherson; with cover art by Doris Alexander Thompson.

Review :: “Plague Novel” by George Estreich

George Estreich author of "Plague Novel" published in Southern Humanities Review v55 n2 2022 headshot image

Guest Post by Zackary Gregory

In the short essay “Plague Novel,” published in Southern Humanities Review, George Estreich [pictured] uses Colson Whitehead’s novel Zone One to make sense of his lived experience through the outbreak of Covid-19.

The essay begins in a small room filled with the “breath and bodies” of people slowly exiting a literary reception. A poet approaches and asks, “You write about science. Should we be worried about this coronavirus thing?” Estreich responds by “disavowing expertise,” but states that from what little he has read, “our behavior mattered.” In “a few weeks the great blur would begin,” people would start hoarding rolls of toilet paper in sparse grocery stores and his “hands would be cracked and raw” from applying hand sanitizer.

Estreich threads in a rich literary analysis of Zone One, drawing parallels and using scenes from the novel to name the mania caused by the pandemic. He describes Americans responding to crises like the characters in the novel, “Zombie-like, they cling to old routines, old stories, as the world falls apart around them.” Estreich claims the novel was “an escape true to the present’s depths,” depths he wouldn’t be able to plumb without Whitehead’s novel.


Plague Novel” by George Estreich. Southern Humanities Review, v55 n2, 2022.

Reviewer bio: Zackary Gregory (He/him) is an English grad student at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. He likes bikes and books.

Magazine Stand :: Southern Humanities Review – 55.2

Southern Humanities Review literary magazine v55 n2 2022 issue cover image

Publishing since 1967 and still as cutting edge as ever, the newest issue of Southern Humanities Review includes Nonfiction by George Estreich, Kelly Ann Jacobson; Fiction by Alena Graedon, Lucy Zhang, Tanya Žilinskas, Sanjena Sathian; Poetry by Angelica Maria Barraza, Clayton Adam Clark, Todd Davis, Jessica Dionne, alyssa hanna, Constance Hansen, Sara Henning, Maurya Kerr, Daniel Edward Moore, tano rubio, Maureen Sherbondy, and Grace Q. Song. Cover art by MimiPrint. Several works from each issue are available to read online.

Magazine Stand :: Southern Humanities Review – 55.1

Southern Humanities Review literary magazine cover image

This newest issue of Southern Humanities Review published quarterly by the Department of English at Auburn University features nonfiction by Monica Judge, Evan Joseph Massey; fiction by Scott Gloden, Kyle Francis Williams, Connor White, Ps Zhang; poetry by Lisa Ampleman, Caitlin Cowan, Esteban Ismael, Lh Lim, Lance Larsen, Fasasi Abdulrosheed Oladipupo, Emilia Phillips, Vasantha Sambamurti, Jace Raymond Smellie, Julia Thacker, and John Sibley Williams. Cover image: Cicada Summer, watercolor on paper, 2021, by Veronica Steiner. Some content can be read online and individual copies, as well as subscriptions, are available by visiting the Southern Humanities Review website.

Southern Humanities Review – Vol. 54.4

In the latest issue: nonfiction by Philip Arnold and Sarah Gorham; fiction by Jerome Blanco, Michael Colbert, Evan Grillon, Eliamani Ismail, and Pardeep Toor; and poetry by Rebecca Cross, Chiyuma Elliott, Grego Emilio, Claire Hero, Sarah Nance, Carolina Harper New, Steven Pan, Jenny Qi, Roger Sedarat, Benjamin Voigt, and D.S. Waldman.

More info at the Southern Humanities Review website.

2021 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize Winner

The Fall 2021 issue of Southern Humanities Review features the winner of the 2021 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize, judged by Jericho Brown.

Winner
“Slouching like a velvet rope” by Elizabeth Aoki

Runners-Up
“Dorothy Dandridge on White Men in Hollywood” by Maurya Kerr
“I Left the Church in Search of God” by Darius Simpson

Aoki will receive $1000 and travel to Auburn, Alabama to celebrate the seventh annual poetry prize where she will read her work at an event headlined by Jericho Brown. The Fall 2021 issue is sold out in print, but you can still check out the winning poem online.

Southern Humanities Review

In the current issue: nonfiction by Barbara Liles and JJ Peña; fiction by Barbara Barrow, Erin Comerford, Judith Dancoff, Erica Jasmin Dixon, and Lee Rozelle; and poetry by Elizabeth Aoki, Mary Leauna Christensen, Noah Davis, Armen Davoudian, Marlanda Dekine, Andrew Hemmert, Maurya Kerr, Cate Lycurgus, Athena Nassar, Khalisa Rae, Darius Simpson, and Ariana Francesca Thomas.

More info at the Southern Humanities Review website.

An Interview with Leslie Blanco

Sometimes after reading a story, I want to know more about it—what the inspiration was and what went into writing the piece. Southern Humanities Review quenches that thirst for answers in their “Features” section on their website, providing the occasional interview with a contributor of their print journal. Right now, readers can find an interview with Leslie Blanco, whose short story “A Sane Person Doesn’t Do Something Like That” is in Volume 54 Number 2 of Southern Humanities Review. The story “examines the strain in the marriage of Yvelis and Hector during the Cuban Revolution.”

Blanco and interviewer Caitlin Rae Taylor discuss the motivations behind the actions of the story’s characters, and the research that went into writing this piece. Here’s what she says about her attitude toward research:

The truth is, I love research. I love the melodrama of history and the magic of stepping mentally into another time, so I did a ton of research. Even as I type the answers to these questions, a vast “sensory” landscape covers one wall of my office, representing research for a novel set just after the revolution. It is a map of Havana with pushpins in all intersections of significant historical moments, surrounded by photos depicting the everyday people swept up in those events, complete with their glorious beehives or their iconic beards.

The interview finishes in a more general area. Taylor asks Blanco what she’s currently reading, what current projects she’s working on, and what advice she’d give to writers “who want to write fiction set against historically significant events,” making this interview an interesting read even for those who have yet to take in “A Sane Person Doesn’t Do Something Like That.”

Southern Humanities Review – 54.2

The latest issue of Southern Humanities features poetry by Hala Alyan, Anne Barngrover, Jordan Escobar, Rhienna Renée Guedry, Sjohnna Mccray, Immanuel Mifsud, Anna Newman, Kimberly Ramos, Karen Rigby, Brett Shaw, Travis Tate, and Ruth Ward; fiction by Ser Álida, Leslie Blanco, Benjamin Murray, and Glen Pourciau; and nonfiction by Myronn Hardy and Ian Spangler. Find more info at the Southern Humanities Review website.

Southern Humanities Review – 53.2

In this issue find nonfiction by Charlotte Taylor Fryar and A. Molotkov; fiction by Kim Bradley, Judith Dancoff, Janis Hubschman, Jeff McLaughlin, and Ann Russell; and poetry by Joseph Bathanti, James Ciano, Bryce Lillmars, Esther Lin, Derek Mong, Christina Olson, Lee Peterson, L. Renée, Kristin Robertson, Mara Adamitz Scrupe, Wesley Sexton, and Annie Wodford. Find more info at the Southern Humanities Review website.

A Quick Yet Powerful Read

Magazine Review by Katy Haas

In the Spring 2020 issue of Southern Humanities Review, Heather Corrigan Phillips dives into the use of language in “A Scattershot Approach.” Broken up into different sections, this piece looks at the idioms and metaphors relating to gunfire that English uses. Each section is a different phrase or word.

This nonfiction piece looks at a span of time immediately after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Her brother-in-law was a first responder at the school that day and we learn about him and the way his health and family were impacted. Phillips writes about this while living out of the country and learns more in spurts through Skype and phone calls, and readers subsequently learn about this in similar ways. Little bits of his story are revealed and then explorations of gun-adjacent language is placed in between.

Reading this really does bring to light the amount of idioms and metaphors that we use which relate back to guns, and this only scratches the surface. There are plenty more that weren’t included. We’re lead to question why this language is so prevalent while also seeing into the lives of humans who have gone through a traumatic event. Here is the perfect balance of fact and emotion, a quick yet powerful read.

Deadline Extension Alert :: Southern Humanities Review 2020 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize

Yes, that’s right! Literary magazine Southern Humanities Review has chosen to extend the deadline to their annual Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. You know have until May 8 to submit up to three poems. SHR welcomes submissions from poets of all levels in their careers and especially seek work from underrepresented voices. First place is $1,000 and publication in the journal. The winner will also receive travel expenses to attend a reading at Auburn University in October. This year’s judge is Paisley Rekdal. www.southernhumanitiesreview.com/auburn-witness-poetry-prize.html

Contest :: SHR 2020 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize

Deadline: May 1, 2020
The quarterly literary magazine Southern Humanities Review is currently open for submissions of poetry to its annual Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. SHR seeks submissions from writers in all stages of their careers, and especially in work from historically underrepresented voices. Poets may submit up to three poems for a prize of $1,000 and publication in the magazine. The winner will also receive travel expenses to give a reading at a poetry event at Auburn university in Alabama in October 2020 alongside the contest judge. This year’s judge is Paisley Rekdal. www.southernhumanitiesreview.com/auburn-witness-poetry-prize.html

Southern Humanities Review – Winter 2019

Southern Humanities Review - Winter 2019

The Winter 2019 issue of Southern Humanities Review is out. In the issue: nonfiction by Lia Greenwell and Leslie Stainton; fiction by Erin Blue Burke, Dounia Choukri, Sayantani Dasgupta, and Alex Pickett; and poetry by J. Scott Brownlee, Sarah Edwards, Jared Harél, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Matthew Landrum, Donna J. Gelagotis Lee, Rodney Terich Leonard, A.T. McWilliams, Michelle Peñaloza, and Supritha Rajan. Plus, cover art by Martha Park.