Against Theme

carolyn

If all we do is take a few words from each author then we’ve made the world a better place. From short story writer Shannon Cain I took arithmetic. I remember feeling appalled as she critiqued a colleague’s lecture about the difference between fiction and nonfiction. The colleague had surveyed 47 authors, but only three of them were women and two of those, he confessed, he didn’t truly admire. As the recent debates at VIDA show about the New York Review of Books, we still need to keep score.

The future is only a past away. Long ago when I read Zora Neale Hurston under Reverend Joanne Braxton’s guidance I was struck by character Janie Crawford’s belief that men’s dreaming eyes were on the horizon and women’s eyes were firmly planted on the ground, focused on a kind of hyper realism. The choice of exotic subject matter, versus the art of the day to day, plagues literary journals. Jaded editors love to have something new and strange to be excited about. They love a horizon.

Free State Review does not want theme issues. Those exotic subjects such as the recent Slipstream theme of “cars, bars and stars” or the Southwestern American Literature theme of War Veteran poetry favors a masculine conversation. True, the Ancients had a God of War. But they also had a God of Hearth and a God of Home. We’re greedy. We want all the Gods, all the time. Which is one reason Carolyn Surrick gives us so much to smile about.
carolynsurrickThe longtime Maryland musician who plays harp for Ensemble Galilei spent two years visiting Walter Reed Army Medical hospital every Friday to share some friendly music with our wounded patriots. Her poem “Rules” is one of hundreds to come out of that period that Carrie is still  making art and music about. Her work is the proof that Gods of War and Gods of Hearth are very close cousins. Bless them all.

Click to see a poem & music from Between War and Here

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