blackbirdonline journalSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
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Founded in 2002 as a joint venture of the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of English and New Virginia Review, Inc.

Copyright © 2019 by Blackbird and the individual writers and artists

ISSN 1540-3068

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EDITORIAL STAFF

Blackbird Editorial Staff, Spring 2019 photo by Vincent Chavez, Alicia Tropper & Karishma Singh
(Left to right) First Row: Mary Flinn, Katherine Mooney Brooks, Alicia Tropper, Karishma Singh, Gregory Donovan; Second Row: Daniela Villegas, Brandie Gray, Caitlin Wilson, Soledad Green, Clarissa Kendall, A. Nora Blake; Third Row: Lucy Isman, Anna-Claire McGrath, Rachel Rivenbark, McKayla Conahan; Fourth Row: Mary Maroste, Samantha Larrabee, Vincent Chavez, Max Torti, Haroun Kamara; Fifth Row: Michelle Goshen, AJ White, Andy Pitts, Katie Wirth, Ryan Brunt; Sixth Row: Colin Bailes, Meredith Lewanowicz, Chris Alimenti, John S. Blake, M.A. Keller

spacer Lead Associate Editors
  Katherine M. Brooks 2018–2019
  Brandie Gray 2017–2018
  Victoria C. Flanagan 2016–2017
  Jake Branigan 2015–2016
  Chelsea Gillenwater 2014–2015
  Leia Darwish 2013–2014
  Lena Moses-Schmitt 2012–2013
  Ross Losapio 2011–2012
  Emilia Phillips 2010–2011
  Grant White 2009–2010
  Matthew Baker 2008–2009
  Tarfia Faizullah 2007–2008
  Kate Beles 2006–2007
  Anna Journey 2005–2006
  Steven Collis 2004–2005
  Maria Hagan 2003–2004
  Tara Moyle    2002–2003
  Jamye Shelleby 2001–2002

Blackbird, founded in 2002 as a joint venture of the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of English and the former New Virginia Review, Inc., benefits from the contributions of graduate and undergraduate student interns, as well as from MA and MFA Graduate Assistants from the VCU Department of English. Students from the interdisciplinary PhD program in Media, Art, and Text (MATX) have also worked with us in past years, as have community volunteers and MFA alumni. We are grateful for everyone’s contributions.

Each year, Blackbird awards the coveted lead associate editor position to a second-year VCU MFA graduate student; to qualify, the student must already have been awarded a graduate fellowship and must have worked as an intern for the journal. The lead associate editor staffs the Blackbird office in the historic Anderson House, and is at the center of all the journal’s activities, working to coordinate communication between literary and production editors, as well as between the editors and contributors.


Staff listings are by categories.


EDITORS
Gregory Donovan, senior editor, is the author of the poetry collections Torn from the Sun (Red Hen Press, 2015), long-listed for the Julie Suk Award, and Calling His Children Home (University of Missouri Press, 1993), which won the Devins Award for Poetry. His poetry, essays, translations, and fiction have been published in The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, TriQuarterly, diode, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Copper Nickel, and many other journals. His work has also appeared in several anthologies, including Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia (University of Virginia Press, 2003). Among other awards for his writing, he is the recipient of the Robert Penn Warren Award from New England Writers as well as grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and fellowships from the Ucross Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Donovan has served as a visiting writer and guest faculty for a number of summer conferences and low-residency programs, such as the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Chautauqua Institution Writers’ Center, the River Pretty Writers Retreat, the VCFA Postgraduate Writers’ Conference, and the University of Tampa MFA program. With the writer/director Michele Poulos, he is a producer of A Late Style of Fire, the feature-length documentary on the life and work of the late Larry Levis. Donovan is a founding faculty member of Virginia Commonwealth University’s graduate creative writing program.

Mary Flinn, senior editor, began her tenure as the director of the New Virginia Review, Inc. in 1985. She is coeditor, with George Garrett, of Elvis in Oz: New Stories and Poems from the Hollins Creative Writing Program (University of Virginia Press, 1992), and facilitated the editing of The Gazer Within (University of Michigan Press, 2001), a collection of essays by Larry Levis. Flinn served as the poetry and fiction editor of 64 and the editor of the New Virginia Review. She has participated in numerous editors’ panels, served as a judge for literature fellowships from various arts councils, and been a review panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Flinn won the inaugural Theresa Pollak Award for Words from Richmond Magazine, and Style Weekly recognized her as one of their 2016 Richmond Women in the Arts.

M.A. Keller, senior online editor, is a technologist, web coordinator, and writing instructor for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of English. His poetry has appeared in the New Virginia Review, Runes, and The Southern Review, among others. Keller is the author of a chapter, “Meghan Sapnar’s ‘Car Wash’ as a New Media Sonnet,” in RAW (Reading and Writing) New Media (Hampton Press, 2010). His work centers on electronic writing; issues of materiality and multimodal writing; and how to define, support, and teach online publishing and new media. He has taught poetry and advanced writing workshops as well as courses in hypertext and new media. He publishes the visual blog Abaculi and is the editor of The Abaculi Project. Keller earned his MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Sonja Livingston, contributing editor, is the author of the essay collection The Virgin of Prince Street (University of Nebraska Press, 2019), which explores rapidly shifting Roman Catholic tradition while interrogating personal and cultural conceptions of devotion. She is also the author of Ladies Night at the Dreamland (University of Georgia Press, 2016), Queen of the Fall (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), and Ghostbread (University of Georgia Press, 2009), which won an AWP Book Prize for Creative Nonfiction and has been adopted by classrooms and reading groups around the nation. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, The Iowa Review, The Rumpus, and Salon, among others. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Nonfiction Fellowship, an Iowa Review Award, a VanderMey Nonfiction Prize, and an Arts & Letters Essay Prize, as well as grants from the Vermont Studio Center and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She teaches creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Randy Marshall, senior editor emeritus, edited, along with Mary Flinn, Andrew Miller, and John Venable, The Gazer Within (University of Michigan Press, 2001). His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in Blackbird, cream city review, diode, Gulf Coast, New South, and Richmond Arts Magazine. Marshall earned an MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a writing instructor at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, where he holds workshops in beginning poetry, multigenre writing, and the lyric essay.

Katherine Mooney Brooks, lead associate editor, is a second-year MFA student in poetry and nonfiction at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was twice the recipient of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Graduate Nonfiction Award. Brooks holds a BA in English and art history with a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies from Fairfield University, where she served as the 2015–2016 managing editor of Dogwood. She is a recipient of the 2019 Sewanee Writers’ Conference MFA scholarship in poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird and The Tusculum Review

Brandie Gray, lead associate editor emerita and lead pagebuilder, is a third-year MFA student in poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a featured Blackbird editor in an online interview with The Review Review, and her work has appeared in Atticus Review, Appalachian Heritage, and The Boiler. She is a recipient of the 2018 Sewanee Writers’ Conference MFA scholarship in poetry. Gray holds a BA in English and creative writing with a minor in communication studies from Hollins University.

Victoria C. Flanagan, book review editor, holds a dual-genre MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction from Virginia Commonwealth University. A finalist for the 2019 Nonfiction Award at The Pinch, their writing has also been awarded the Catherine and Joan Byrne Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the 2018 Emerging Poets Prize from Palette Poetry, and a Sewanee Writers’ Conference scholarship, among other honors. Flanagan’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in New South, Crab Creek Review, Palette Poetry, Blackbird, Beloit Poetry Journal, and RHINO. They teach writing at Central Washington Univeristy.

Chelsea Gillenwater, book review editor, has had short stories and reviews published in Blackbird and Philologia. She earned an MFA in fiction from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she served as the 2014–2015 lead associate editor for Blackbird. She is the assistant city editor for the Bristol Herald Courier and Washington County News.

ASSOCIATE EDITORS
Colin Bailes, assistant copy editor, is a first-year MFA student in poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cortland Review, The Hollins Critic, Iron Horse Literary Review, The National Poetry Review, and Sugar House Review, among others. He earned a BA in English from the University of Central Florida.

Vincent Chavez, lead photo editor, is a first-year MFA student in fiction at Virginia Commonwealth University. He earned a BA in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

McKayla Conahan, assistant pagebuilder, is a first-year MFA student in poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University Their work has appeared in Barely South, Fall Lines, Rabbit Poetry, Salt Hill, Sink Hollow, and Sweet. They are also the recipient of the South Carolina Student Poetry Prize, the Susan Laughter Meyers Scholarship, and winner of the Sweet Inaugural Poetry Competition. They earned a BS in astronomy from the College of Charleston.

Michelle Goshen, assistant editor, is a first-year MFA student in fiction at Virginia Commonwealth University. She earned an MA in writing from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in English from Elon University.

Anna-Claire McGrath, lead audio editor, is a first-year MFA student in fiction at Virginia Commonwealth University. She served as an interviews editor for the feminist literary magazine The Fem and cocreated a literary magazine called werkloos. She earned an MA in theatre and performance studies from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in English language and literature from the University of Virginia, where she served as editor in chief of the literary magazine three point seven.

AJ White, lead copy editor, is a second-year MFA student in poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the recipient of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Graduate Poetry Award. He earned a BA in English and a minor in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Caitlin Wilson, assistant copy editor, is a first-year MFA student in poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ENTROPY, Iron Horse Literary Review,and Rogue Agent. She is also the winner of a 2019 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Intro Journals Project award in poetry. She earned a BA in English with a minor in creative writing from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she was the recipient of the 2018 Henrietta Spiegel Creative Writing Award and served as the 2017–2018 editor in chief of the literary journal Stylus.

INTERNS
Chris Alimenti, literary intern and copy editor, is a senior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. He will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a BA in English. He has worked as a journalist for Liivee, an online magazine, and is the coauthor of the memoir, My Turn on the Couch.

A. Nora Blake, literary intern and copy editor, is a senior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her poetry is forthcoming in Pwatem. She will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a BA in English.

Ryan Brunt, literary intern and audio editor, is a sophomore undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. They will graduate in the spring of 2021 with a BA in English.

Soledad Green, literary intern and photo editor, is a sophomore undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the spring of 2021 with a BA in English.

Lucy Isman, literary intern and copy editor, is a senior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a BA in English and a minor in psychology.

Haroun Kamara, literary intern and audio editor, is a senior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. He will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a BA in English.

Clarissa Kendall, literary intern and pagebuilder, is a senior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a BA in English literature and a minor in creative writing. Her poetry has appeared in Pwatem and she is a 2019 candidate for the MFA fiction program at the University of New Orleans.

Mary Maroste, literary intern and audio editor, is a first-year MFA student in poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Jabberwock Review, Mid-American Review, and Pittsburgh Poetry Review, among others. They are also the winner of a 2018 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Intro Journals Project award in poetry. They earned a BA in creative writing from Western Michigan University

Andrew Pitts, literary intern and audio editor, is a sophomore undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. He will graduate in the spring of 2021 with a BA in interdisciplinary studies and a certificate from the da Vinci Center for Innovation.

Rachel Rivenbark, literary intern and copy editor, is a junior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the spring of 2021 with a BA in English.

Karishma Singh, literary intern and photo editor, is a junior undergraduate at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the fall of 2020 with a BA in English and a minor in media studies.

Max Torti, literary intern and pagebuilder, is a sophomore undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the fall of 2021 with a BA in English.

Alicia Tropper, literary intern and photo editor, is a senior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a BA in English and a minor in creative writing.

Daniela Villegas, literary intern and pagebuilder, is a sophomore undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the spring of 2021 with a BFA in English and Spanish, and a minor in creative writing.

Katie Wirth, literary intern and copy editor, is a senior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the summer of 2019 with a BA in English.

 

VOLUNTEERS
John S. Blake, literary intern and pagebuilder, is a senior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. He will graduate in the spring of 2019 with a BA in English and minors in creative writing; gender, sexuality, and women’s studies; and African American studies.

Meredith Lewanowicz is a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, having earned a BA in English with a minor in British studies.

Samantha Larrabee is a junior undergraduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She will graduate in the spring of 2020 with a BA in English and a minor in mass communications.

 

& MANY THANKS
to all the editors, staff members, interns, and volunteers who made Blackbird, volume 18, number 1 possible.

Special thanks to Katherine Mooney Brooks, our lead associate editor, for keeping us all focused on this big effort, and for bringing the work of the contributors and the Blackbird team to fruition.

Thanks to Brandie Gray for her stalwart support and dedicated mentorship efforts as lead associate editor emerita, as well as for leading the pagebuilding team and reading groups.

Thanks to M.A. Keller for organizing and designing innovative gallery builds and keeping everyone on track under a tight deadline.

Thanks to AJ White for running the copyediting room; and to Anna-Claire McGrath for her audio capturing and editing, and for leading the audio team with so much spirit. Thanks also to Vincent Chavez for his patient guidance of the photo team, and to Michelle Goshen for editing bios with never a dull moment.

Thanks to Victoria C. Flanagan and Chelsea Gillenwater for their book review editing and continued support.

Thanks to Rebecca E. Jones for her outstanding PR and social media efforts.

Thanks to Mary Flinn for contributing the foreword text, and thanks to everyone who wrote metatext for this issue.

Thanks to Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas for her generosity of time in advising on dual-language submissions.

Thanks to our volunteers, John S. Blake, Meredith Lewanowicz, and Samantha Larrabee, for their dedication to the production of this issue, and to Scott Selden and Colin Bailes for their willingness to return and lend a hand.

And to all others—manuscript readers, pagebuilders, audio editors, photo editors, transcribers, and copy editors, our sincere appreciation.  bug


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