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The Green Room, Autumn 1993


ISSUE:  Autumn 1993

As Edwin M. Yoder noted in the letter accompanying his essay on “Star Wars,” it has now been more than a decade since the demise of Washington’s last afternoon newspaper, The Evening Star. The Star shut down on August 7, 1981 after 129 years of publication. Just as Dean Acheson was “present at the creation,” of the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine, so Mr. Yoder was an eyewitness to the decline and fall of The Star. Indeed, he was The Star’s last editorial page editor and in that capacity one of the newspaper’s last recipients of the Putlizer Prize, which he was awarded for his editorial writing in 1979.

A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Mr. Yoder graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1956, then was a member of Jesus College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar for the next two years (his Rhodes colleague, Mississippi writer Willie Morris, used to refer to him as “what a friend we have in Jesus.”) Mr. Yoder began his editorial career on The Charlotte News in 1958 and moved in 1961 to The Greensboro News where he served as an editorial writer and associate editor before joining The Star in 1975. A syndicated columnist, the energetic Mr. Yoder also teaches journalism at Washington and Lee University and is completing a biography of Potomac pundit Joseph Alsop to be published by Harvard. A native of Virginia who is appalled by the Old Dominion’s capital punishment law, Ron Squire Steffey received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Bridgewater College in the Shenandoah Valley and has taken graduate courses at Old Dominion University, the College of William and Mary, and the University of Virginia. He is a high school teacher by profession, and was voted “best and most inspiring teacher” by the 1992 senior class of Lafayette High School in Williamsburg, where Mr. Steffey teaches American government and applied economics. In March of this year he was interviewed on CNN, “The Today Show,” and other television stations, as well as Cuban National Television, for his role in trying to bring President Fidel Castro to the table with the United States. He received a letter from Castro himself and has been invited to Cuba in a cultural exchange program.

William Hoffman’s latest collection of stories. Follow Me Home, was recently published by Louisiana. Mr. Hoffman, a Virginian to the core, is “very much drawn to Richmond.” Moreover, he recalled in a recent letter, “when my first novel was published in 1955, Mrs. Rebecca Yancy Williams, who wrote The Vanishing Virginian, came to hold my hand during a Miller & Rhodes autographing session. She later invited me to dinner at her home, a shrine of Southern gentility, and served me fried chicken. I was unsure how to go about eating it. . . .she told me it is always proper to eat fried chicken by picking it up in one’s fingers. I’ve done so ever since, no matter how high-toned the company or the occasion.”

As James Nathan notes at the outset of his essay on the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King ruled for 63 years, the longest reign in European history; and he ruled as an absolute monarch; telling his diplomats not to “sign anything, not even a passport. . .without my command.” A longtime student of diplomacy, Mr. Nathan is the Khalid bin Sultan Eminent Scholar in Political Science and International Policy at Auburn University in Montgomery. He previously taught at the University of Delaware and is a former member of the United States Foreign Service as well as a former scholar-in-residence at the Naval War College. He is the co-author of Foreign Policy Making and the American Political System, and he has written widely on international relations, including VQR essays on the foreign policies of Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Bush, respectively.

Ken Dola is a graduate of the University of Virginia, but he has spent most of the last decade in Alaska, Oregon, and Colorado. Although he is a poet by avocation, he makes his living logging and as a seasonal trail crew boss for the U. S. Forest Service.

No stranger to VQR readers, the prolific T. Alan Broughton is a poet, short story writer, and novelist. His books of fiction include A Family Gathering (1977), Winter Journey (1980), and Hob’s Daughter (1984). He has published three volumes of poetry as well, and a fourth entitled In the Country of Elegies is to be published by Carnegie-Mellon next year. Mr. Broughton is a professor of English at the University of Vermont and a former recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Len Roberts has a translation of the poetry of Sandor Csoori, and the most recent collection of his own poetry is a chapbook entitled Learning about the Heart. One of his poems was selected for Best American Poetry in 1992.

Donald Platt was a co-winner of the 1992 Discovery/The Nation contest. His first book of poems, Fresh Peaches, Fireworks, and Guns recently won the 1993 Verna Emery Poetry Prize, judged Gerald Stern, and will be published by Purdue next summer.

A native of Australia, GEORGE WATSON has long been a Fellow of St. John’s College at Cambridge. He is a former professor at New York University and author of Politics and Literature in Modern Britain and The Idea of Liberalism.

As she noted in a recent letter, BEAUVAIS McCADDON is making her debut as a published short story writer with the appearance of “The Bird Collection” in this issue. She was born and raised in Rosedale, Mississippi and graduated from Millsaps College in Jackson in 1966. She, her husband, a physician, and their three children, have lived in Tallahassee, Florida since 1974. She has taken courses at Florida State University in creative writing.

In his sixth “Poetry Chronicle” for VQR, Peter Harris discusses new works by poets Susan Mitchell, Tony Hoagland, and Tess Gallagher. Mr. Harris is an associate professor of English at Colby College in Maine and a Melville scholar. He has also taught American poetry at University College Cork in Ireland.

Julia Whitty is a writer and documentary filmmaker who has lived in California for the past 13 years, working with her husband and partner, Hardy Jones, writing and producing more than 50 natural history and environmental documentaries for PBS television, Turner Broadcasting, the Arts & Entertainment Network, and overseas television. She and her husband have just finished an Audubon Television Special on coral reefs, particularly their importance as indicators and possibly regulators of the earth’s warming climate. Her VQR story is part of a short collection she is now preparing with historical themes, specifically, “how history intersects our daily lives.”

After teaching literature and writing at Ripon College, the University of Kansas, the University of Pennsylvania, and Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, Burling Lowrey has now become a fulltime essayist and critic based in Washington, D. C. In addition to VQR, he has also contributed to The New Republic, The Washington Post, and The Washington Review. He has just finished a book exemplifying 99 distinct nonliterary styles in American speech and writing. He notes: “My approach to the diversity of American English is admittedly somewhat eccentric, and I am looking for an eccentric editor who would be interested in publishing it.”

Wallace Whatley is a native of Alabama and holds a B. A. degree from Auburn University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His poetry and fiction have appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, the Kansas Quarterly, the Minnesota Review, Southern Poetry Review, and The Southern Review.

Mr. Whatley lives in Auburn, Alabama where he owns a writing, editing, wordprocessing business. He plans to collect his poetry into a single volume and soon will finish a collection of short stories entitled Bluff Creek Company,

A native of Virginia, Christopher Clausen is a professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. His latest book is The Moral Imagination published by Iowa. He also taught at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Sanford Pinsker writes that Jewish-American History and Culture: An Encyclopedia published last year by Garland, of which he was a co-editor along with Jack Fischel, recently was awarded the 1992 Reference Award by the Association of Jewish Libraries. “They schlepped Jack and me up to NYC, feted us to a feed at the Hilton, and handed us a plaque and a reasonably-sized check,” writes the pleased Mr. Pinsker. Mr. Pinsker is Shadek Professor of Humanities at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania.

A lawyer as well as a former member of the House of Representatives from Louisiana, Harold McSween has long been interested in the judicial process and in Supreme Court justices, of whom the subject of his essay review, Oliver Wendell Holmes, is among the most prominent.

John Piller holds an M. F. A. degree in English from the University of Virginia and is on the faculty of the University of Richmond. He has recently published poems in The Gettysburg Review and Poetry East.

DORIS L. EOER has taught modern and contemporary literature on several campuses and developed and administered liberal arts programs at others. She has written extensively on education, publishing, poetry, and fiction.

THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEWStaige D.BlackfordEditorGregoryOrrPoetry Consultant

Advisory EditorsEdward L. AyersRichard M. RortyLorna MartensJ. C. LevensonKenneth W. ThompsonPatricia Meyer SpacksG. Edward WhiteRobert H. KretsingerCharlee Pawlina, Business Manager

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