The Green Room, Spring 1997
Staige D. Blackford
Of all "the boys of summer" who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the late 1940's and the early 1950's, none displayed more character or courage than Jackie Robinson, grandson of a plantation slave, son of a Georgia sharecropper — and the African-American who alone 50 years ago this spring desegregated long solidly segregated major league baseball. And as Martin Luther King, Jr. himself acknowledged, by his example on and off the diamond, Jackie Robinson helped bring the American dilemma closer to a resolution.
One who observed Robinson's career firsthand was Patrick Henry, a native of Brooklyn who later became a scholar of French. Even now, half a century later, Mr. Henry still regards Robinson as "my first and greatest hero." Mr. Henry teaches French at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he also co-edits The journal of Philosophy and Literature.His latest two books are edited volumes An Inimitable Example: The Case for La Princesse de Cleves, 1992, and Approaches to Teaching Montaigne's Essays, 1994.Even though he is a continent away, he still roots for America's team, the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Since he has been a loyal contributor to this journal for more than two decades, Louis B. Rubin, Jr. is hardly a stranger to VQR readers, but his latest contribution is somewhat of a departure from his usual analysis of books and authors. In his current essay, Mr. Rubin discusses the relationship between the critic and the creative writer. As he notes at the outset of his essay, he has been writing professionally "for a bit longer than 50 years" during which time he has written or edited some 45 books. Of those, three have been novels, the most recent of which The Heat of the Sun was published in the autumn of 1995. Mr. Rubin notes that writing fiction has been of use to him as a critic, and he is a critic par excellence. Indeed, many regard him as the dean of Southern literary criticism. After receiving his Ph. D. at Johns Hopkins, Mr. Rubin taught there, at Hollins College, and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also founded the Algonquin Press of Chapel Hill. In addition to being a prolific writer, Mr. Rubin is also an ardent sailor, a baseball fan, and a traveler. His latest trip in January took him hundreds of miles up the Amazon River, a trip about which he is sure to write an article and/or book.
A resident of Amity, Oregon, Floyd Skloot is both a fiction and nonfiction writer. His latest book is The Night-Side, a collection of essays about his own experience with the illness known as chronic fatigue syndrome. A third novel, The Open Door, is due out this year. Mr. Skloot's essays and stories have appeared in such journals as The Hudson Review, The New Criterion, Michigan Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Boulevard, and The Antioch Review.He is also an avid sports fan, as indicated by his latest VQR story.
A graduate of Princeton University, Francís Leary moved to Paris shortly after World War II and has been there ever since. Hence, his interest in French history and in the wicked Marquise de Sevigng, a celebrated criminal of the 17th century. Mr. Leary does not limit himself to French history alone; he recently completed an article about Thomas Jefferson and the dream house he built at Monticello.
K. C. Arceneaux is a painter and writer living in Blacksburg, Virginia. She has a B.S. degree from the University of Oregon, an M.F.A. in painting from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in environmental design and planning with a concentration on African studies from Virginia Tech, where she taught architectural design in the College of Architecture for eight years. Her fiction has appeared in Northwest Review and Chicago Review. She recently won a Tara Fellowship for short fiction from the Heekin Group Foundation for her story, "The Porcupine Box."
Anthony Winner is a professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Characters in the Twilight: Hardy, Zola, and Chekkov, Culture and Irony: Studies in Joseph Conrad's Major Novels, and numerous articles on fiction from the 18th century to the present. "On the Valuing of Narratives" is taken from a set of studies to be entitled The Borderlines of Narrative.
Mark J. Straus is a physician, scientist, curator, and collector of contemporary art as well as being a poet. Triquarterly Books brought out his first collection, One Word, in 1994.He is an oncologist in White Plains, N.Y.
Joseph Lease's first collection of poems, The Room, was published by Alef Books. He has been published widely in Grand Street, The Paris Review, Southwest Review, Colorado Review, Pequod, Denver Quarterly, and The Boston Review.
Mark Halliday is a poet who teaches in Philadelphia. His second book of poems, Tasker, published by Massachusetts in 1992, won the Juniper Prize.
Ronald Wallace's work has appeared in such periodicals as The Atlantic, The New 'Yorker, Poetry, and The Nation. His fifth collection of poetry, Time's Fancy, was published by Pittsburgh. He directs the creative writing program at Wisconsin, and edits the University of Wisconsin Press Poetry series.
Among the most distinguished of contemporary American poets, David Ignatow is the winner of the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters for "a lifetime of creative effort." He has published 16 volumes of poetry, the latest being I Have a Name in 1996.
A widely published poet and writer of essays, John Lane teaches at Woffbrd College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is also director of the Holocene Press and is currently co-editing a collection of essays on living in the Southern Piedmont.
A veteran newspaperman, Richard O'Mara is an editor with The Baltimore Sun. He served as a Sun correspondent in Argentina, the setting for his VQR essay about the city of Santa Fe in Argentina's central province of the same name.
Brian Dillon has been a copywriter and creative director for New York advertising agencies, most recently Young & Rubicam, for 14 years, He still does some of this work, but he has been drawn more and more to fiction."Because of realizing finally that people matter more to me than products" he writes. He has studied at Sewanee, at Iowa, and with writers in New York. Only recently has he begun to submit some of his work.
R. E. Nelson was in Vietnam during the last stages of the Vietnam War (1971—72). He taught English at the University of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia (1975—77), worked in Washington, D.C. for a year, and settled in San Francisco in 1978. As a freelance writer, he is currently working on a novel and a screenplay. His short fiction has appeared in the James White Review,
After graduating from Yale in 1970, David Wyatt went on to graduate school at UCLA where he received his Ph. D.degree. He later taught at the University of Virginia, and is now a professor of English at the University of Maryland. His most recent book is Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation (Cambridge 1993). His VQR essay is taken from a memoir in progress entitled Brief Terrain.
A museum administrator and historian, James Morton Smith served as curator of the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum from 1976 to 1984.He was a professor of history at Cornell University and also served as an editor at the Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, Virginia. His books include Freedom's Fetters; Liberty and Justice; Seventeenth-Century America; and The Republic of Letters. He resides in Elkton, Maryland.
Edward Tucker is a professor of English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He has published books on Richard Henry Wilde and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and a number of articles on American literature. His book Long-fellow's "John Endicott" was awarded the emblem of the Center for Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association.
J. Michael Robertson is a professor and consultant to the American Military University, Graduate School of Military Studies, located in Manassas Park, Virginia where he teaches international relations and military strategy. He holds a Ph.D. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. His writings have appeared in Strategic Review, Comparative Strategy, and the Naval War College Review.
Jack Fischel is chairman of the department of history at Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania. He is co-editor of Jewish-American History and Culture, an encyclopedia published in 1992 by Garland, and co-editor of Holocaust Studies Annual.
Picture Credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame Library Cooperstown, N.Y.THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEW Staige D.BlackfordEditor GregoryOrrPoetry Consultant
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