By Stephen Corey
The capacious Walt Whitman himself might have found the Fall 2013 Georgia Review “large” enough to suit his bedrock sense that to “contain multitudes” is to be as fully human as possible:
Celeste Rapone’s gaudily costumed imaginary women, out-glowing Mother Nature’s most colorful season, enclose Julie Riddle’s “Shadow Animals,” a beautifully horrific essay about growing up among pioneer dreams, guns, and child abuse.
Deena Linett explores the “Erotics of Place,” which she defines as a “rapt submission to the world and its products capable of changing us in lasting ways”—but she does so after Douglas Carlson’s “Not Quite the End of Nature Writing” observes that “if a common thread can be found within nearly all recent nature writing, it seems to be despair over an unraveling world,” and after Ann Pancake unwittingly echoes Carlson with her essay’s very title, “Creative Responses to Worlds Unraveling: The Artist in the 21st Century.”
In “Coming or Going” poet Elton Glaser grasps the overwhelming presence of death ruefully—“This is my cold hand on the doorknob”—but a page earlier poet Alice Friman’s “Coming to Terms” lauds those who defy and convolute the fact of mortality: “. . . the drowned say, life / is the thing we clutched— / our own murderous baby . . .”—and a few pages later Sydney Lea’s Vermont-based “Autumn” pays straightforward homage to “those / Who scratched out improbable livings here.”
In Jill Osier’s “Play,” young children pretend to be old. In Kyle C. Mellen’s “Other People’s Houses,” somewhat older children wish to trade places with their own friends. In Albert Goldbarth’s “Two brothers,” one brother attempts to be himself and his sibling to cover up the fact that the latter has mysteriously disappeared.
“Do I contradict myself?” Whitman asks rhetorically near the end of his epic Song of Myself, and immediately responds, “Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
The main body of the Fall 2013 issue of The Georgia Review, the University of Georgia’s internationally known journal of arts and letters, closes with “Archaeology” by Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Dunn; this poem concludes, “I need / to remind myself of the creatures / we are and have been—remnants / everywhere. No need, really, to dig.”
And no need to dig for the varied riches of this issue. They are everywhere in its pages.