To many Americans, Sicily is infamous for being the home of the Mafia, and that is about the extent of their knowledge of the ancient island off the southwest tip of Italy separated from the mother country by the Strait of Messina. The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has been scorned by generations of mainland Italians who have a saying, Europe ends at Naples. Yet as Russell Fraser observes in his latest VQR essay, Sicily has a history and a civilization extending well into antiquity and a character as old as tragedy itself. A world traveler who spends part of the year in Hawaii, Mr. Fraser has ranged from China to Constantinople, one of the cities featured in his book The Three Romes, the others being the Italian capital and Moscow. The author of 14 books, he is also a distinguished scholar who just retired this spring as the Austin Warren Professor of English Literature and Language at the University of Michigan. Retirement has one notable compensation: “Never again a winter in Ann Arbor.” When last heard from, Mr. Fraser was planning to “go down to the sea again, maybe the Outer Heberdes.”
John Egerton’s essay on the “pre Brown South” is an exerpt from his latest book, Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South, a powerful and poignant history of the Southern men and women, black and white, who advocated civil rights in the 20 years before the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision.Speak Now is being published by Knopf this fall. A native Southerner, John Egerton has been exploring the region as an independent writer of non-fiction since the late 1950’s. His earlier books include A Mind To Stay Here: The Americanization of Dixie, Generations, and Southern Food.He has lived and worked in Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and most recently Tennessee, where he now resides in Nashville.
A native of New York City, Leon Arden attended Columbia University. But “convinced that college was interferring with my education, I quit after two years to become a free-lance photographer in New York, Europe, and Mexico.” Mr. Arden has published short stories in England, South Africa, Australia, and this country. The film rights to his fourth novel, One Fine Day, were bought by Disney, and he is now working on his fifth. He spends from September to early June in London with his wife and child and from mid-June to September in Connecticut.
In this election year of 1994, it is hardly news that Americans are disillusioned with politics and politicians. Still, Michael Nelson observes in his discussion of this disillusionment, it has been around for a long time. In fact, Americans have had a distrust of politicians since the very beginnings of the Republic. Politics and politicians have long been an interest of Michael Nelson, who has been teaching political science in Tennessee for well over a decade. A former contributor to The Washington Monthly, Mr. Nelson first taught at Vanderbilt University’ in Nashville. He is now a member of the political science faculty at Rhodes College in Memphis.
Mark Ledbetter also lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee, where he is a partner in the law firm of Taylor, Halliburton, Ledbetter and Caldwell.Mr. Ledbetter is working on an M.F.A.degree at Memphis State University and has studied under authors Barry Hannah, Tom Russell, and Margaret Skinner. He also contributes book reviews to the Arkansas DemocratGazette.” The Hearing,” his VQR short story, is his first published work of fiction.
Adele Slaughter was born in Fort Meade, Maryland in 1953.She has worked as a teacher to patients in hospitals as well as with homeless people, recovering addicts, and high school dropouts. She holds an M.F.A.degree from Columbia University. Her first book of poems, What the Body Remembers, was published this year. She currently lives outside New York City, where she is working on a new book of poems.
Michael Jay McClure is a 22-year-old Denver poet who was awarded the Maytag Fellowship at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and began classes there last month.
Natasha Saje’s poems are from her first book Red Under the Skin, which won the Agnes Lynch Starret Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press and will be issued this fall. Other recent poems have appeared in the American Voice, Anteaus, Chelsea, and Shenandoah.A former undergraduate at the University of Virginia, she is completing her dissertaion at the University of Maryland.
Jane Hilberry teaches at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs and has previously published poems in this journal.
In his seventh annual Poetry Chronicle, Peter Harris discusses No More Masks!: An Anthology of Poetry by American Women edited by Florence Howe and The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems for Men edited by Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade.Mr. Harris is a member of the English faculty at Colby College in Maine and a Melville scholar. He has spent the last year teaching American poetry at University College Cork in Ireland.
Sharon Pywell’s work has appeared in a number of literary quarterlies including the Antioch Review, the Western Humanities Review, and The Fiddlehead.She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, where she completed her first novel. Ms. Pywell grew up in upstate New York and lives now in Boston with her husband and daughter.
A native of Charlottesville, Virginia, Booton Herndon has been a professional writer since 1931 when the local newspaper The Daily Progress paid him S3.00 a week to cover high school football.”Considering that grown men weren’t getting $3.00 a week at that point in the Depression,” Mr. Herndon recalls, “I thought that was a pretty good way to make a living especially since I had to go to the games anyway; I played left guard.” After graduating from the University of Missouri and working as a reporter for the N ew Orleans Item, Mr. Herndon served with the U.S. Army in World War II, receiving five battle stars. He has been a freelance writer since 1945 and is the author of more than 1000 magazine articles and 23 books.
Tim Wooten was born in California but moved to Maine in adolescence and has lived there off and on ever since. He has had a varied career with jobs as a longshoreman, a cook, a waiter, a bartender, and a part-time reporter for a daily newspaper. He eventually obtained his college degree and is now an M.F.A.candidate in the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College in Vermont. For the past 15 years, Mr. Wooten has worked for a local affiliate of the Service Employees Union and has also taught creative writing workshops for the United Auto Workers in Michigan and the Labor Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.He has seen his fiction published in “a variety of unseen and now forgotten little magazines, but was most recently published in the May/June issue of the North American Review.”
Daniel R. Ernst was promoted to a full Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center in June. He has a J.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph. D. in history from Princeton University. He is the author of The Lawyers and the Labor Trust: A History of the American Antiboycott Association which Illinois will be publishing next year.
Christopher Cleary holds degrees in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia and the University’ of Richmond. He is currently employed by the medical center of the University of Virginia.
Sanford Pinsker’s latest contribution to VQR is a review of three autobiographies by three African-American intellectuals, two being journalists and one a scholar at Harvard. A professor of English at Franklin & Marshall College, Mr. Pinsker has written hundreds of articles for such journals as Southern Review, Georgia Review, the Journal of Modem Literature,and American Book Review. He has been a Fulbright lectuer both in Belgium and in Spain.
As a young man, W. D. Ehrhart enlisted in the U.S.Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam, where he saw combat during the tet offensive. He has since become an author and poet and lives outside Philadelphia.
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