Author Archives: Isabel Acevedo
The Greensboro Review, Number 98, Fall 2015
UNC-Greensboro’s Greensboro Review, I like the looks of it. Cover is nice, unfussy; a tough, no-nonsense cardboard render with contributors stenciled on the front. Reminds me of a pamphlet the Works Progress Administration might have produced. I champion the austerity of the thing. Fall 2015, Number 98 is forest green. Some good writing in here, too. The journal publishes fiction and poetry. Let’s look inside.
“Fragile Hearts on the Bay” by Tyler Sage is as good as any short story I have read all year and this is coming from someone who’s read both Best American Short Stories 2015 and The O. Henry Prize winners cover to cover (okay so I may have glossed over the fabulist entries).
Sage’s story is set in Hollywood, or rather at a bayside mansion outside of town patronized by that insane breed of the famous and the otherworldly privileged, and told from the point-of-view of a writer, a rebel, whose casual attitude suggests his best work is behind him. Still, there was that one book! —The Big River, it’s called. It’s not unusual for the narrator to encounter beautiful bookish bombshells coming up to him to inform him how his book touched them, how it cut through the bullshit, and that is what happens here. What a cast of characters. He’s there with a fabulous actress, a successful TV star, who’s dating the host: a Gatsby-esque international lawyer, who “seems to encourage a reading of himself as someone who is not quite human the way you and I are, but has instead overcome the routine tasks and difficulties of hygiene, emotion and upbringing.” The narrator uses this vacuous landscape to confront “the facade of (his) own life and false fronts” — and despite how shabby that might all sound, it’s rather affecting. A delicious conflict emerges between the writer, the actress, the lawyer, and an arms dealer, and the whole thing concludes with a tastefully rendered menage a trois and a struggle between men in the bay. It might be bold to go so far as to call it the best short story about Hollywood since Richard Yates’ “Saying Goodbye to Sally” –but there I just said it.
Other standouts are Linda Taylor, Glenn Shaheen and Alan Sincic. The speaker in Taylor’s poem, “To a Poet in Ohio: Not Tending a Fire in Oregon” sees the northwest, considers the scorched trees, and laments the birds that once inhabited them. I was particularly enamored of the rhyme scheme in the penultimate stanza: “I am not hungry for birds (ones/ in your poem), larks, black/cap and crow — that come, winter/cold, from a place I don’t know.”
In Glenn Shaheen’s “Darlin, Darlin,” an interracial fling is said to suggest “a great leap in the post-racial America,” until the white Houstonian friend of the speaker admits that the Off-Broadway star she slept with wasn’t black after all, prompting the speaker to recall how often he is mistaken for being Chinese, and the poem unfolds with feverish talk about confused identities and how complicated race is, unpunctuated and headlong and off…seemingly to infinity…superb.
Sincic’s “Sand” is a strange one, perhaps the most experimental offering, full of non sequiturs and a perverse energy. It starts with a grieving husband drying his socks in a toaster oven and only gets weirder from there. It reminded of some of Barry Hannah’s wilder moments, always welcome.
All in all, it’s a fine issue from a journal that’s been old school since 1965. To get a bead on the kind of talent the MFA program at UNC-Greensboro produces, check out an interview over at The Millions featuring two former editors, Kelly Link and Keith Joe Morris, discussing their craft and their latest books.
Our Featured Author & 2016 Poetry Prize Judge, Carol Frost.
Carol Frost’s latest collection was published in 2014 by Tupelo Press (Entwined – Three Lyric Sequences). In 2010, The Florida Book Awards gave her their gold medal for Honeycomb. She has new work in Poetry, Kenyon Review, The New Republic and Shenandoah. Frost teaches at Rollins College, where she is the Theodore Bruce and Barbara Lawrence Professor of English, and where she directs Winter With the Writers, a Literary Festival. We’re very pleased to welcome her to the Georgia College campus on March 15th to read from her most recent collection. Frost is also our poetry judge for this year’s Arts & Letters Prizes. Read “Lucifer in Florida” and “Man-of-War” from her new collection on our Featured Archives page.
On Carol Frost:
Carol Frost’s latest collection was published in 2014 by Tupelo Press (Entwined – Three Lyric Sequences). In 2010, The Florida Book Awards gave her their gold medal for Honeycomb. She has new work in Poetry, Kenyon Review, The New Republic and Shenandoah. Frost teaches at Rollins College, where she is the Theodore Bruce and Barbara Lawrence Professor of English, and where she directs Winter With the Writers, a Literary Festival. We’re very pleased to welcome her to the Georgia College campus on March 15th to read from her most recent collection. Frost is also our poetry judge for this year’s Arts & Letters Prizes.
Lucifer in Florida
I Lucifer, cast down from heaven’s city which is the stars,
soar darkly nights across the water to islands
and their runway lights — after sunset burning petals;
sights, sorrows, all evils become the prolonged shadows
and lightning through palm trees and the ancient oaks.
… And ride with darkness, dark below dark, uttermost
as when the cormorant dives and the fish dies, eye-deep
in hell; the bird is I, I hide in its black shining
spread of wings raised drying afterward on a tree bough.
Nothing more onyx or gold than my dark wings.
Yet Venus rising, the off chords and tender tones
of morning birds among the almonds, small flames
of lemon flowers, phosphorus on the ocean,
all I’ve scorned, all this lasts whether I leave or come.
The garden fails but the earth’s garden lives on
unbearable — elusive scent on scent from jasmine
mixed with brine, the smell of marshes, smells of skin
of fishermen, burned rose and a little heroic
while leviathan winds rise and darkness descends.
Sin and death stay near, black with serenity,
calm in dawn’s light suggestions. If the future is
a story of pandemonium, perfection’s close —
from the sea the islands at night, from the island
the sea at night with no lights rest equally, lit by
a wanderer’s memory bringing dark and light to life,
luminous and far as dreams endure, charcoal and flame
in a fire, the embers of pride and pain in each breath.
From the somber deeps horseshoe crabs crawled up on
Man-of-Wars’ blue sails drifted downwind
and blue filaments of some biblical cloak
floated below: the stinging filaments:
The cored-of-bone and rock-headed came near:
Clouds made wandering shadows:
Sea and grasses mingled::
There was no hell after all
but a lull before it began over::
flesh lying alone: then mating: a little spray of soul:
and the grace of waves, of stars, and remotest isles.