Throwback: “Workmen Photographed inside the Reactor: Chernobyl” by David Wojahn

For this week’s #TBT we go back to spring of 1992 and the poem “Workmen Photographed inside the Reactor: Chernobyl” by David Wojahn. It was Wojahn’s first appearance in the journal; the poet’s work has appeared in the journal numerous times since.

Wojahn will be helping us celebrate our eightieth anniversary next week with a reading at the Strand Bookstore in NYC. The event takes place Friday, May 1 at 7pm. More details here:

Download the PDF file .

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AWP, Snow, Rain, and the Spring Issue

Like a lot of our readers and contributors, I arrived home from AWP late Sunday night. What a time we had. Minneapolis was significantly colder than New Orleans and there were even snow flurries, rumors of some flakes the size of popcorn. I guess everything is bigger, more magical at AWP. The Southern Review and LSU Press celebrated their eightieth anniversaries with special readings at the conference. I took some photos that I’ve attached here (not very good ones—I have yet to master the touch of using a digital camera, having relied on my old 35 mm that I bought myself with my high school graduation money until last year, when, after a very good run, it stopped working).

The journal’s reading was well attended, and the panelists—Anna Journey, Michael Knight, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and David St. John—were on fire. All read from their previous or upcoming appearances in the journal, and David included a poem by Larry Levis as well as one by Phil Levine, both of which are part of our tribute to Larry Levis in the spring issue. Four other previously unpublished poems from Levis are also in the issue, as is work from his college teacher Peter Everwine and writers whose lives he touched, including St. John, Journey, Joshua Poteat, Ryan Teitman, and John Estes.

Participants in The Southern Review’s 80th Anniversary Reading at AWP. Standing, L-R: Michael Knight, David St. John. Sitting, L-R: Bonnie Jo Campbell, Anna Journey.

The LSU Press panel was moderated by Alice Friman and focused on poets:  Friman, David Kirby, Kelly Cherry, and Anya Silver. All four also paid tribute to the wonderful Claudia Emerson, who died last year, by reading one of her poems before launching into their own work. The audience cried and laughed and gave pause, experiencing a full range of emotions at a truly memorable reading.

Emily was also busy on two other panels, one composed of fiction editors and another celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of LSU’s MFA program. At that, she read from one of her baseball pieces, which was published in Hobart while we were at the conference. When our commitments weren’t with participating in or attending panels and parties, we were at our booth chatting with contributors and friends or introducing ourselves and the journal to new acquaintances. It’s also a great chance for us to talk shop with our editorial colleagues at journals across the country; we came back to Louisiana with many good ideas.

The Southern Review contributor John Casteen with poetry editor Jessica Faust and poet Natasha Oladokun at the journal’s booth.


It was a successful conference for us all around, and now the spring issue is due to leave the printer and arrive in mailboxes soon. I’m thrilled to see the Levis tribute finally debut, of course, but am also proud, as always, to present many fine works, including poems from John Casteen and Carol Ann Davis as well as poems from newcomers to our pages Caitlin Vance and Sally Van Doren.

There’s much exceptional work on the prose side, but I’m especially fond of an essay from Georgina Nugent-Folan called “Going On in Style: Beckett at 25,” which is about Beckett’s work twenty-five years after his death and Nugent-Folan’s own mother’s battle with cancer. It’s great to have an essay that is both scholarly and personal about Beckett (and to have a reason to break my promise that I wouldn’t mention Beckett in my blog for a year—by the way, yesterday was his birthday—I did not forget). I like to think James Olney, who was a longtime editor of The Southern Review and a generous professor here at LSU until his 2004 retirement, would appreciate the inclusion of an essay on Beckett. James died while we were working on the spring issue, so it’s bittersweet that the essay appears now, but I’m glad it does.

We are having a lot of rain now, daily deluges, and are expected to have this weather at least another week. Minneapolis may have had popcorn-size snowflakes, but Baton Rouge and New Orleans have the equivalent of what happens when that big, magical snow melts. Luckily we also have the spring issue to keep us company inside awhile.

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Throwback: “Dusk” by Chloe Honum

For this week’s #TBT we’re featuring “Dusk” by Chloe Honum, which originally appeared in our autumn 2011 issue. “Dusk” later appeared in her poetry collection The Tulip-Flame, which was selected by Tracy K. Smith for the 2013 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize and is a current finalist for Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award in poetry.

Honum will be reading on Friday, May 1, as part of The Southern Review’s 80th anniversary celebration at the Strand Bookstore in New York City. She’ll be joined by novelists Jayne Anne Phillips (Quiet Dell; Lark & Termite) and Karl Taro Greenfeld (The Subprimes; Triburbia), as well as poets Stephen Dunn (Lines of Defense; Here and Now, What Goes On) and David Wojahn (Interrogation Palace; World Tree). The event will be May 1 at 7pm in the Strand’s Rare Books Room; more details and advance tickets available here.

Download the PDF file .

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Throwback: “Water and Oil” by Michael Knight

For this week’s #TBT, we’re featuring the first part of Michael Knight’s story “Water and Oil” from the autumn 2013 issue of The Southern Review. To read the rest of the story consider ordering a back issue online or pick up a copy at AWP! This issue, and many other recent back issues, will be on sale for $5 at Booth 715 at the Bookfair.

Also, Knight will be reading at “A Reading Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of The Southern Review,” Thursday, April 9, 4:30 PM, Minneapolis Convention Center, Room 101 B&C, Level 1. He’ll be joined by contributors Bonnie Jo Campbell, Anna Journey, and David St. John. More details here.


Download the PDF file .

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See you at AWP!

For those readers and contributors traveling to Minnesota for #AWP15, we hope to see you there! The Southern Review will be at booth 715 with subscription specials, new T-shirts, and other great swag. We will also be celebrating our eightieth anniversary with a special reading:

Thursday, April 9, 4:30 PM
AWP 2015—Minneapolis Convention Center, Room 101 B&C, Level 1
A Reading Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of The Southern Review
Featuring Bonnie Jo Campbell, Anna Journey, Michael Knight, and David St. John

Emily Nemens, our coeditor and prose editor, will also be participating in two panels on Friday morning:

Friday, April 10, 9:00 AM
AWP 2015—Minneapolis Convention Center, Room M100 J
Pinning Editors Down: Lit Mag Fiction Editors Define What Works
​Featuring Jennifer Acker, Aja Gabel, Timston Johnston, Emily Nemens, and Beth Staples

Friday, April 10, 10:30 AM
AWP 2015—Minneapolis Convention Center, Scott James Bookfair Stage
The MFA in Creative Writing at LSU turns 30!
Featuring Jennifer Davis, Laura Mullen, Emily Nemens, Hannah Reed, and Kristin Sanders

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