Our summer issue is showing up around the country now. After two issues with unusual covers (our winter cover was handed over to Chris Ware and our spring cover to Art Spiegelman), things are back to normal, with VQR looking as VQR-y as ever. This issue is titled “No Way Home: Outsiders and Outcasts,” and we’ve got a series of stories along that theme.
A sort of a subtheme of this issue is poets writing nonfiction. Pulitzer-prize winning poet (and VQR Contributing Editor) Natasha Trethewey revisits her home town of Gulfport in “The Gulf: A Meditation on the Mississippi Coast After Katrina.” UVa professor and poet Greg Orr contributes “Return to Hayneville,” the story of his recent revisit to the small southern town where he was kidnapped and held captive for his role in a civil rights march. And Hunter College teacher and poet Tom Sleigh writes about his trip to Qana, the Lebanese village where twenty-eight people—mostly children—were killed by an Israeli bombardment in July of 2006.
It’s not all poets, though. Regular contributor J. Malcom Garcia spent time in Jena, Louisiana recently, getting to know folks on both sides of the recent racial dispute there, and he explains how the town was affected by the sudden, unwanted attention from the rest of the nation. Photographer Gabrielle Weiss captured some brilliant photographs of some of Jena’s residents, too. James Kirchick visited Orania, the only all-Afrikaner enclave of South Africa, and learned about their efforts to “maintain culture.” Also, Jason Motlagh writes about Maoist separatist rebels in India, Dimiter Kenarov visits the Roma of Bulgaria, Daniel Alarcón is sent to the middle east on a government-sponsored poetry reading tour, and David Enders explains the unique plight of Palestinian refugees in Iraq.
Our fiction also fits into the theme of outsiders. Nina McConigley provides “Cowboys and East Indians,” about being caught between the cultures of India and Wyoming. (You can learn more about Nina by listening to Scott Carney’s piece about her for NPR’s “Day to Day,” which aired in March. Sana Krasikov’s “Asal” is about being the other woman in a polygamous marriage. And Kanishk Tharoor writes about the life in Bagdad in the week before it was sacked by Hulagu Khan in “Tale of the Teahouse.”
The poetry in this issue is all under the umbrella of “A Rose from Jericho: Israeli and Palestinian Poetry.” A dozen poets contributed to this collection, including Mahmoud Darwish.
And, of course, we have book reviews (Jack Fischel on Nicholson Baker’s “Human Smoke” and Oscar Villalon on David Gilmour’s “The Film Club”), plus our usual assortment of brief reviews. Finally, there’s Ross MacDonald’s “Dead-Eye Comic,” which always rounds out our issues.