Thursday, November 4, 2010

Intersections of Nature and Culture

Day 269 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and I am reading the new issue of The Fourth River, because it just arrived in the mail, and I'm in it!  So are a bunch of other poets whose work I enjoy, including, in a fine coincidence of the sort you know I love, Tim Hunt, with whom I'll be reading at the Normal Public Library on Sunday afternoon, November 21, 2-4 p.m. (clickable in Events on the right).  More about that later.

The Fourth River is a publication of the Chatham University MFA in Creative Writing Program, and it comes out annually (although this issue had a bit of delay, as I've published two poetry chapbooks since my bio!).  It really does focus on "intersections of nature and culture" and I was first attracted to it because of that and its location near the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Pittsburgh, where my dad spent part of his childhood (on Neville Island).  These rivers join the Ohio River, and we know all about Three Rivers Stadium, (actually, I forgot that the stadium had completely come and gone, demolished in 2001, which will not surprise my baseball-loving friends, as I hold it as a picture in my mind,* whole and circular), etc.  But there is also a fourth river, underground, essential to the ecosystem, and from that natural fact this cultural journal was born.  As stated by previous editor Jeffrey Thomson in the very first issue (I'm in that, too!):

Thus the Fourth River, our journal, our attempt to gather the best writing that explores the intersections between nature and culture, begins here, with this notion, that between and beneath the visible framework of the human world and the built environment, there exist deeper currents of force and meaning supporting the very structure of that world.

That origin statement lingers in the mission statement and call for manuscripts:

We welcome submissions of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that explore the relationship between humans and their environments--writings that are richly situated at the confluence of place, space, and identity, or that reflect upon landscape as culture, and culture as landscape.

And that's indeed what you will find in the current issue!  Donna Pucciani mourns and accepts the "Death of a Canada Goose"--Yet you are content to lie open to the rain....  Tim Hunt and Joe Wilkins honor their mothers and their landscapes in "Eucalyptus" (also in Hunt's book Fault Lines) and "Right Now": Mother, right now you're bending to your turnips....  (And I hope I honor my husband's mother in my poem "In Miami on the Seventh Day.")  Joanne Lowery looks at the intersection of nature and culture in life and art in "Fontainebleau":

Who are the picnickers, the Sunday afternoon strollers
who modeled for Renoir, Monet, and Sisley
in the Forest of Paris at Fontainebleau?

And there is much more.  If you are writing on such topics, send away for a sample issue, and submit your work!  As you know from my love of Sandra Steingraber, this journal and its mission is one dear to my heart.  So are Orion and Seeding the Snow.  And so many others (list some in your comments)!

Many thanks to Julie Kistler, who announced the upcoming poetry reading in A Follow Spot.  Tim Hunt and I will be reading with Kathryn Kerr, a poet/biologist, because all three of us have poetry chapbooks with Finishing Line Press.  If you are local, nearby, or eager for a road trip, please join us on November 21!

And, in the Wonderful Land of Random Coincidii, I am reading American Eve, by Paula Uruburu, about Evelyn Nesbit, beautiful "It" girl, who, of course, grew up in Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh.

*I'm claiming that my mind is whole and circular in this dangling reference that also refers to the pre-existing stadium and the picture of it in my mind in this wholly circular rambling sentence.  (Did I ever tell you about the Neville Island flood, and my dad's family climbing to the top of the house and out, onto a rescue boat?)


Sandy Longhorn said...

Congrats on the publication! And thanks for the review of the issue. Sounds intriguing.

Kathleen said...

And remember that wonderful though short-lived sitcom "Back to You" with the weather reporter who could not pronounce "Monongahela"?!

I have much joy around my house mispronouncing "Monongahela" in all the ways I can. OK, I make myself laugh, and after a while my kids just roll their eyes.

Nancy Devine said...

congratulations on the publication. i love the word 'monongahela.'

Cheryl Snell said...

Monongahela might make a good mantra...
Nice to hear your good news!