Amid all the hoopla and hurrah evoked by the U.S.’s winning role in the Gulf War, there stands a latter-day Forgotten Man, namely the American veteran of the Vietnam War— that prolonged conflict which cost this country more than 50,000 dead in contrast to the several hundred incurred during the recent brief unpleasantries in Kuwait-Iraq. One of those forgotten Vietnam veterans who has never himself forgotten the horror and heroism of that squalid war in South-east Asia is W.D. Ehrhart. And last summer he joined a small group of veterans like himself—now all writers—in returning to Vietnam for a meeting with some of their former foes who had also turned to literature after the guns finally fell silent with the fall of Saigon in 1975. What Mr. Ehrhart and his compatriots encountered during their Vietnam visit is the subject of his essay, “A Common Language.”
Mr. Ehrhart enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps in 1966 at age 17. He fought in Vietnam during 1967—68 receiving the Purple Heart, two Presidential Unit Citations, and the Cross of Gallantry. Returning from the war, he earned a B.A. from Swarthmore College and eventually an M.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Just for Laughs and four non-fiction books including In the Shadow of Vietnam: Essays 1977—1991. He is also the editor of three anthologies of Vietnam-related poetry, most recently Unaccustomed Mercy (1989). Mr. Ehrhart lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Anne, and daughter, Leela. His poetry has appeared in previous issues of VQR.
A member of the English department at Franklin & Marshall College since 1967, Sanford Pinsker was promoted to associate professor in 1974 and to full professor in 1984, the year in which he also became a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in Belgium. He is a native of Pennsylvania who received his B.A. degree from Washington and Jefferson College and his Ph. D. from the University of Washington. A prolific author, Mr. Pinsker writes poetry as well as prose, and his books include The Languages of Joseph Conrad, Still Life and Other Poems, Phillip Roth: Critical Essay, and Memory Breaks Off and Other Poems. He has written hundreds of articles for such journals as Southern Review, Georgia Review, The Journal of Modern Literature, and American Book Review. He spent the past academic year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Salamanca in Spain.
A former editor of The Georgia Review, John Irwin is now the Decker Professor in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University as well as chairman of the writing seminars there. At present he is working on a long book entitled The Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Barges and the Analytic Detective Story out of which his VQR essay grew. He is also writing a shorter book on Hart Crane entitled Apollinaire Lived in Paris. I live in Cleveland Ohio: Essays on the Poetry of Hart Crane. Under the pen name that he uses for his poetry, John Bricuth, Mr. Irwin is finishing a long poem called “Just Let Me Say This about That.” Bricuth, he noted in a recent letter, won VQR’s Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry in 1970 for a poem called “The Musical Emblem.”
A member of the English faculty at Luther College in Iowa, which he attended as an undergraduate, Robert Schultz usually writes poetry, and, like Mr. Irwin, he is a recipient of the Emily Clark Balch Poetry Prize. But the talented Mr. Schultz also has a knack for the short story as he displays in “The Most Beautiful Day of the Year,” his first published story. Mr. Schultz holds a Ph. D. Degree from Cornell and has taught at the University of Virginia.
In his fifth annual Poetry Chronicle, Peter Harms discusses the poetry of Michael Ryan, that of the Chinese democracy movement, and of Maxine Kumin. He notes that “within the variegated surfaces and subtleties of their work there exists a similar archetypal conflict: love and lucidity against the agencies of death and despair.” 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.
Mary Oliver is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose work has appeared frequently in this journal. This fall she will begin a two-year appointment as the Marjorie Banister Writer in Residence at Sweet Briar College.
Peter Cooley is a member of the faculty at Tulane University in New Orleans. His VQR poem is from his new book, The Astonished Hours, to be published next January by Carnegie-Mellon Press.
Elizbeth Dodd is an assistant professor of English at Kansas State University, where she teaches in the creative writing program.
A previous contributor to VQR, Terese Svoboda is the author of Laughing Africa, a book of poems published last year which was named co-winner of the Iowa Prize. She lives in New York City.
“After reading the Civil War letters of George Miller” Ruth Porritt recently repalled, “I noticed how many of his vivid colloquial phrases came to my mind as I traveled around Virginia.” Those phrases are reflected in her series of Civil War poems, “Where Such a Thing as They Heard Comes From.” Ms. Porritt has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Literature from Purdue University and her work has appeared in such journals as Tar River Poetry, Laurel Review, and The Ohio Journal.
Michael Chitwood lives and works in Durham, North Carolina. His poems have recently been published in The Antioch Review, The Mississippi Review, and Three-penny Review, and he was a featured poet in The Ohio Review.
Sol Stein has been a prize-winning playwright, a novelist, publisher, software inventor, State Department official, father of seven children, and teacher of writers. His novels include The Husband, The Magician, The Touch of Treason, and The Best Revenge, just published by Random House in April. He was the originator and general editor of one of the earliest lines of trade paperbacks at the Beacon Press in Boston. His first three books were James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son (which he published simultaneously in hardcover and paperback, an innovation at the time), Leslie Fiedler’s An End to Innocence, and Bertram Wolfe’s Three Who Made a Revolution. All three are still in print. Mr. Stein has lectured on creative writing at Columbia, Iowa, the University of California at Irvine, and UCLA. As a publisher, he had books on the best seller list for 19 consecutive years.
David H. Lynn, who received his undergraduate degree from Kenyon College, went on to receive a Ph. D. degree in English from the University of Virginia before returning to his alma mater where he is now a member of the English faculty. He has also served as editor of The Kenyon Review and is not only well acquainted with the works of Peter Taylor but also with the man himself. Mr. Lynn is a former pupil of Mr. Taylor.
Thomas Barbash is a graduate of Haverford College and worked for three years as a newspaper reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard before enrolling at the Iowa Writers Workshop where he served as a Teaching-Writing Fellow for the past year, at the end of which he received his M.F.A. degree.
Robert J. Brugger is now an acquisitions editor for the Johns Hopkins University Press. He is a historian by profession and has taught at the universities of Maryland and Virginia and served in 1978—79 as an Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow in the humanities at Harvard. Besides teaching and acquiring manuscripts, Mr. Brugger also edits The Maryland Historical Magazine, a job for which he is eminently qualified: he is the author of Maryland: A Middle Temperament, 1934—1980, a definitive history of “America’s oldest border state” published in 1988. He is also the author of Beverly Tucker: Heart Over Head In the Old South.
A life-long liberal himself, Harry S. Ashmore is all for Reclaiming Liberalism, the subject of his review. He won a Pulitzer Prize while serving as editor of The Arkansas Gazette during the turbulent years of the 1950’s. His most recent book is Unreasonable Truths, a biography of Robert Maynard Hutchins, with whom he was associated as a fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, California, where Mr. Ashmore currently resides.
A native of Nashville and a graduate of Sewanee, Calhoun Winton holds a master’s degree from Vanderbilt and a Ph. D. from Princeton. He has taught at Dartmouth, Virginia, Delaware, South Carolina, and, since 1975, at Maryland. He is the author of a two-volume biography of Sir Richard Steele published by Johns Hopkins and is now working on a book about John Gay and the theatre.
Daniel T. O’Hara is a professor of English at Temple University and is the editor of two collections of essays in critical theory, as well as the author of four books, including the forthcoming study Performing Foucault: Critical Theory as Cultural Politics.
Jeffrey Meyers, who produces biographies almost as rapidly as Trollop produced novels, is the author of Joseph Conrad: A Biography published by Scribner’s this spring. In recent years, he has also turned out biographies of D.H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Wyndham Lewis, and Katherine Mansfield. The ever-busy Mr. Meyers is currently working on a biography of Edgar Allan Poe and plans to turn to F. Scott Fitzgerald once that project is completed.
Karen Whitehill’s poems have appeared in VQR and other journals. She has also served as a poetry reader for this journal, and she is a former member of the staff of The Papers of George Washington.
Doris L. Eder has read, taught, and published modern poetry and fiction for two decades and now writes, edits, and raises funds for one of Hunter College’s professional schools.
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