Be Careful Where You Read the Autumn Issue of TSR

Jessica Faust-Spitzfaden

The autumn issue is about to hit mailboxes and store shelves, and if you don’t have access to a copy, then you should definitely consider subscribing. The pages are filled with wonderful works from writers whose names are familiar to our readers: We have letters from Robert Penn Warren; an essay from Lee Zacharias; fiction from Ron Rash; and poetry from David Bottoms, Karin Gottshall, Bob Hicok, and David Kirby.

Making his first appearance in The Southern Review is the terrific Mark Richard with an excerpt from his forthcoming nonfiction work that provides a haunting and unsentimental look at the crippled children’s hospital system he experienced as a child.

I admire so much of the work in this issue that to list what is best is to present the table of contents. But as everyone around me in the office knows, the one piece that I say you must absolutely read—conveniently leading off the issue, by the way—is Kevin Prufer’s “Where Has He Gone?” From the first time I read this poem fresh out of its envelope, I was wowed, and I continue to be with each new reading. It is terrifying and crushing and beautiful. Every single time. Do not read this poem on the subway during your daily commute unless you are prepared to give yourself over to it and its reminder that we are all “so fragile.” Kevin’s book National Anthem was named one of the five best poetry books of the year by Publishers Weekly. I feel certain that whatever book this poem ends up in will surely be regarded as highly.

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