The Southern Review’s Summer 2015 Issue Now Available

BATON ROUGE, LA—Listening to brass bands on a sweltering street corner. Visitors drifting into dreams aloft air mattresses filled with the breath of love. Instructions on how to build a home from scratch—and how to dismantle one that no longer serves its purpose. Swimming lessons, kayaking groups, and water, water everywhere. Seen through a certain lens, much of the content of The Southern Review’s summer 2015 issue swirls around New Orleans and the tragedy that happened there ten Augusts ago. This conversation culminates with a special essay feature, “Writing Katrina: Ten Years After,” in which three Louisiana writers—poet Alison Pelegrin, filmmaker Zack Godshall, and playwright John Biguenet—reflect on how the storm affected their work, what they created from the disaster, and a conversation about how their creative processes, and the arts community on a whole, can recover from such a tremendous tragedy.

The issue also features an impressive assortment of poetry from some of the nation’s luminaries, including Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Stephen Dunn. Emerging poets such as Jim Whiteside make their journal debut alongside longtime The Southern Review contributors Bob Hicok, Wendy Barker, and Thomas Reiter. The prose includes music essays on buying the perfect amplifier and Woody Guthrie, as well as a story by National Book Award finalist Bonnie Jo Campbell, from her much-anticipated forthcoming collection, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, and a story by novelist Karl Taro Greenfeld. Lara Prescott’s story, “Swimming Lessons,” about illegal immigration and a father’s love, marks the author’s first fiction in print.

The paintings of George Johanson, a Portland, Oregon–based artist, bring color and community to the pages of the summer issue. This octogenarian’s impressionistic beachscapes feature kayakers, sunbathers, and swimming classes in vivid jewel tones. “Color and light,” he writes in his artist’s statement, “are for me components of the same phenomenon.”

The summer issue is now available for purchase online at There you can also explore a digital gallery of Johanson’s paintings, audio recordings of writers reading their pieces, and an archive of past issues. The Southern Review is also available in bookstores.

From the campus of Louisiana State University, The Southern Review publishes distinct literary voices from around the world that both evoke the innovation of its founders, Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks, and respond to the diversity of its contemporary readership. The journal, now celebrating its eightieth anniversary, has also featured a broad range of visual artists from across the South and around the globe. With each new issue The Southern Review strives to discover and promote engaging, relevant, and challenging literature—including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—and to feature a wide range of the very best established writers alongside rising literary stars.

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As the Anniversary of Katrina Approaches

The other day a friend mentioned maybe going to San Francisco and asked me if I’d ever been there. Yes, when I was a kid. Also, then, I remembered when I first started dating my ex-husband and we’d taken a road trip and spent a couple of days there. It’s beautiful, a great scene, pretty cold, but everyone should go. It wasn’t until the next night that I remembered that we loved San Francisco so much when we were there that we were supposed to go for our honeymoon. We’d booked the trip that summer before our October 1, 2005, wedding date, and then had to cancel it, like so many things, because Hurricane Katrina had hit on August 29. I had blocked out the memory, but now I recall being on the phone and arguing with whatever online agency it was that didn’t want to refund our money because we couldn’t take the trip—had they not seen the news of the past weeks? We didn’t have homes, or a working airport yet. Everyone’s job was in limbo and no one had enough money. And didn’t this agent realize we couldn’t take a honeymoon if we didn’t have a wedding, and the one we were going to have was definitely off, with the venue damaged, all of our potential guests scattered throughout the country, and our wedding and engagement rings who knows where with the jeweler, who also had to evacuate, of course. I don’t like thinking about Katrina. I get peevish every time I have to—and, yes, even now, while I try to pen this blog.

My experience with Katrina is one of the millions that are all different but all the same: life changing, and usually somewhat negative, to understate. All of us who were affected either directly or indirectly continue to be affected. I’m tired of thinking and talking about it, but I am grateful that there are artists in our pages who can talk about how their work has grown—through writing, theater, and film—because of the storm and its aftermath. That makes the feature of essays in the summer issue reaffirming rather than depressing. Alison Pelegrin, John Biguenet, and Zack Godshall write about how their work as poets, dramatists, and filmmakers evolved after their Katrina experiences. Their essays are also in our audio gallery, as are recordings from many other contributors in our summer issue.

I would like to take that return trip to San Francisco at some point, browse through City Lights again, maybe catch a baseball game. Memory is how we know who we are, but sometimes it’s necessary just to tuck it away and move on.

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Throwback: “The Gymnast” by Karl Taro Greenfeld (Summer 2010)

This week we’re featuring “The Gymnast” by Karl Taro Greenfeld, which originally appeared in the summer 2010 issue of The Southern Review. The story subsequently was published in NowTrends (Hobart, 2011). Want more from this author? He’s got a new story, “A++,” in the summer 2015 issue of The Southern Review, and, when he helped The Southern Review celebrate its 80th anniversary in New York City this May, he told a great story about coaching girls’ basketball. (His reading starts at 14:54.)

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Throwback: “The Fourth of July” by Philip Schultz

In honor of Independence Day, for this week’s #TBT we’re featuring Philip Schultz’s “The Fourth of July.” The poem originally ran in our winter 2010 issue, and was later published in The God of Loneliness, Selected and New Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010).

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Throwback: “Sutliff Bridge” by Anne Pierson Wiese

For this week’s #TBT, we go back to summer 2010 and Anne Pierson Wiese’s “Sutliff Bridge.

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