Arts Society & Culture

The public and private are one in the fall 2011 Georgia Review

Athens, Ga. – In the recently released fall 2011 issue of The Georgia Review, the University of Georgia’s award-winning international journal of arts and letters, the boundaries between interior and exterior lives are repeatedly called into question. All of us, says Review editor Stephen Corey, must somehow deal with both private matters and social issues if we—and the world—are to survive.

The Georgia Review is a past winner of the National Magazine Award in Essays, coming out ahead of such large-stage competitors as the New Yorker and Smithsonian. Corey notes that a quartet of strikingly varied essays sets the tone for the new issue.

Cultural critic David Bosworth, a contributor to the Review for more than 20 years, supplies “From Wariness to Wishfulness: Disney’s Emasculation of Pinocchio’s Conscience,” a study of the ways that one of the most influential American men of the 20th century has taught us to sugarcoat rather than to confront the most serious aspects of modern life.

Albert Goldbarth, a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry and also a prolific essayist, offers up the gritty “A Cave in a Cliff in Scotland.” After homing in on the life of a young woman who is a devoted single mother by day and an entrepreneurial prostitute by night, Goldbarth ranges widely across both space and time to argue that always, for everyone, “above, or to the side of us, or underground, are other lives.”

In “The Makings” by Kent Meyers and “Night Piece” by Judith Kitchen, the telling of highly personal stories leads these essayists back to the world around them.

Meyers recounts in great detail his boyhood fascination with homemade weapons. On his family’s isolated Minnesota farm he found the scrap materials that allowed him to fashion boomerangs, blowguns, spears, bolas, atlatls, bow-and-arrows and even “terrifying to use” crossbows. But Meyers’ memories generate examinations of the America—and the Europe—his family knew before and during his childhood, and he is also driven to consider the implications of his love for implements of death. “I wasn’t, I don’t believe, an exceptionally warlike child,” muses Meyers.

Kitchen’s “Night Piece” goes head to head—and machine to machine—with the author’s breast cancer treatments, but along the way the essay invokes financier Sam Hill and his American Stonehenge replica, scientist Marie Curie, dancer Loïe Fuller and Kitchen’s childhood piano teacher, Miss Curtis, who “did not make it easy” and thereby prepared her young student for the world ahead.

The intimate and the impersonal also intertwine in the fall 2011 issue’s short-story offerings. Mary Hood’s “A Clear View of the Southern Sky” is set in a Georgia women’s prison, where the needs of all the individuals—inmates, guards and transient classroom teachers—are dwarfed and governed by the rules of the institution. And Don Waters’ “Española” bounces between two worlds and two times-the Iraq war from which veteran Lucero has returned, and the drug-war-torn New Mexico hometown where he is trying to resettle with his deeply dysfunctional family.

Also returned from war are the artists involved with the Combat Paper Project, whose unique creations—printed on handmade paper whose pulp base is shredded military uniforms—are featured on the issue’s covers and in its interior portfolio.

The intersection of private and public lives is also the province of several poets presented in the issue: Richard Jackson draws upon his many years as a visiting teacher in the Slavic region to examine the horrible events of war and their aftermath there; William Johnson recalls anti-Semitism as it showed itself in a high school locker room; and Margaret Gibson offers up what could serve as a kind of poetic guidebook for Alzheimer’s caregivers through a series of striking poems about and dedicated to her husband as the couple make their way through the changes wrought upon him by the disease.

The Georgia Review, founded at the University of Georgia in 1947 and now in its 65th year of continuous publication, has been called by novelist Terry Kay “the best literary publication in America, period.” For more information about the magazine, see www.thegeorgiareview.com or call 706/542-3481.