Back Roads and Ditch-Wise: Against Ben Lerner’s The Hatred of Poetry

Molly Spencer’s recent poetry and critical writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbird, FIELD, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, and Tupelo Quarterly. Her debut poetry collection, If the House (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019), won the Brittingham Prize; a second collection, Relic and the Plum, won the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition and is forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press in fall 2020. Spencer is a poetry editor for The Rumpus and teaches at the University of Michigan.

What the Music Said

Martha Wiseman has been a theater student, a dancer and choreographer, an editor, and a bookseller. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, and her long short story Double Vision (White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 2004) is available as a chapbook. She has published three previous essays in The Georgia Review. She teaches English and directs the writing center at Skidmore College.

The Great Silence

Marianne Boruch’s ten poetry collections include the recent title The Anti-Grief (Copper Canyon Press, 2019). She was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Australia last year at the University of Canberra’s International Poetry Studies Institute, observing the astonishing wildlife to write a book-length sequence, a neo-ancient/medieval bestiary, which is forthcoming from Copper Canyon. The poems in this issue are a part of that collection.

Psyche’s Stolen Pleasure: Women Who Like to Look, Objectification, and Animism of the Inanimate

Genese Grill holds a BFA from Cooper Union in painting, and an MA and PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in Germanic literatures and languages. She is the author of The World as Metaphor in Robert Musil’s “The Man without Qualities”: Possibility as Reality (Camden House, 2012) and the translator of a collection of Musil’s short prose, Thought Flights (2015); his short-story collection Unions (2019); and Theater Symptoms: Robert Musil’s Plays and Writings on Theater (forthcoming)—with these three all from Contra Mundum. Her literary essays, translator introductions, and scholarly writing have appeared in The Georgia Review, Numero Cinq (where she is on the masthead as special correspondent), Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics, the Missouri Review, and elsewhere. Her completed, as-yet-unpublished collection of essays celebrates the relationship between matter and spirit.

The Lonely Ruralist

Reinhabitation was my dream. But in rural America there’s a chasm between what is real and what is myth.

I lived my entire life to arrive on the farm. Ten years ago this quiet, quiet place had everything I wanted. …

Janisse Ray is the author of five books of literary nonfiction as well as a volume of eco-poetry. Her first book, the best-selling Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (Milkweed Editions, 1999), is a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast. It was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen by the Georgia Center for the Book as a “Book All Georgians Should Read.” Ray holds an MFA from the University of Montana, where later she was the William Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer for 2014. She is a 2015 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, and she won the 2017 Southern Environmental Law Center Award in journalism for her piece on coal ash, published in The Bitter Southerner: “From Ashes Such as These, What Can Rise?” In 2019 Ray was given the Georgia Author of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Writers Association. 

Understory and Overstory: A Retrospective

Janisse Ray is the author of five books of literary nonfiction as well as a volume of eco-poetry. Her first book, the best-selling Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (Milkweed Editions, 1999), is a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast. It was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen by the Georgia Center for the Book as a “Book All Georgians Should Read.” Ray holds an MFA from the University of Montana, where later she was the William Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer for 2014. She is a 2015 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, and she won the 2017 Southern Environmental Law Center Award in journalism for her piece on coal ash, published in The Bitter Southerner: “From Ashes Such as These, What Can Rise?” In 2019 Ray was given the Georgia Author of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Writers Association. 

My Father, the Atomic Bomb

I would not be who I am today were it not for the Bomb. 

Had there not been a bomb, my biological father—a Manhattan Project physicist—would not have died in 1951 from radiation-induced cancer a month before my fourth birthday, …

Judith Dancoff’s fiction and essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Southern Humanities Review, Tiferet Journal, the Shanghai Literary Review, and others. She has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, where she was the McElwee Family Fellow. Her documentary film Judy Chicago & the California Girls (1971) has screened at and is owned by museums and universities around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has lived in Los Angeles the majority of her life, where she is currently at work on a hybrid memoir/novel about her father and the Manhattan Project.

A Public Loss Anyway

Andrew Menard is the author of Learning from Thoreau (University of Georgia Press, 2018) and Sight Unseen: How Frémont’s First Expedition Changed the American Landscape (Bison Books, 2012). His most recent essays and articles have appeared in Antioch ReviewThe Georgia ReviewHinterlandJournal of American StudiesOxford Art Journal, and the New England Quarterly. 

The Longing of Men

In the water, the rocks were a dozen colors, ochre to a bruised orange, purple to brick, dusky green to leaden blue, moss-tinged yellows—and all these eclipsed with flashes of sky ricocheting off the surface. These boulders and stones were …

Jerry McGahan (1943–2016), beekeeper and much else, was the author of the story collection The Deer Walking Upside Down (Schaffner Press, 2015) and the novel A Condor Brings the Sun (1996). His stories and essays were published by the Iowa Review, the Antioch Review, the Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, and other literary journals. McGahan passed away with his wife, Janet, by his side in Arlee, Montana, on the land he had loved for almost fifty years.