Green Hills Literary Lantern

 Preface to Volume XXIV:

Now and then we all see something that leaves us speechless, that expresses something we can’t. That’s the literal meaning of “ineffable,” a word I don’t know that I have ever written before, fairly sure I never yet uttered, though if pressed to define it, I’d say it’s something that makes us splutter “I don’t know what the eff to say.”

The sublime. A picture worth so much more than a thousand words we just give up and shut up. Never knew anybody to grow talkative under the nighttime desert sky. Though a starry starry night was the jumpfroggyjump that gave us Don McClean’s “Vincent.”

 

Sometimes, however, a picture provokes a fragment, a memory, a phrase, an answering voice, and you feel for an instant that you have connected with another mind, that the aching void that arcs between one irreducibly lonesome consciousness and another, ultimately unbridgeable for all our romantic pretensions  (and all our romanticism, at its worthiest, is a response to that grief) well, it might be, momentarily, spanned.

A meditation, maybe. Keats looking at the painting on a Grecian urn. Auden in the Musée des Beaux Arts. Oppenheimer watching the mushroom he inoculated sprout tall, and involuntarily repeating from the Bhagavad Gītā, “I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.”

 

When I encountered Martha Freuhauf’s photo, “Dark Horse,” Yeats’ chosen epitaph sprang unbidden to mind:

 

 

It’s a picture of power at rest: stark, beautiful, not particularly benign, not sufficiently interested in you to bother with hostility. By the time I saw it, the contents for this issue were pretty well set, and I thought it was a good fit.

Read here, and you’ll see what I mean.

For the most part, founding editor Jack Smith chooses the fiction, and I cover nonfiction. There’s some overlap (nobody’s patrolling the borders). Joe Benevento chooses the poetry. He and Jack impress in many ways, and they were working together long years before I was graciously offered a chair, but what distinguishes them, and what they share, is an ear, an eye. They recognize solid work. Sentimentality doesn’t get a chance to unpack its sample-case for them, and neither does the pose-striking antisentimentalism, the theatrical and selfconciously edgy cynicism which is always a backhanded compliment to, and affirmation of, the old sentimentality anyhow.

The work is filtered, to be sure. Manuscripts are read by the editorial board, and we have had long years of service from some very senior writers: Geoff Clark, Erin Flanagan, Barry Kitterman, Robert Garner McBrearty, Midge Raymond, Doug Rennie, Jude Russell, John Talbird and Mark Wisniewski. We can no answer make, but thanks and ever thanks.

And we were further enriched this year by three new board members, who claim no small credit for the high quality of this issue.

 

Rachel Kempf is an Austin-based writer of fiction, nonfiction, plays, and screenplays. Her teleplay "Menagomy" won Best Comedy Pilot in the 2011 NexTV Writing & Pitch Competition, and her essay "Tricycle" was included in Random House's 2006 collection Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Authors: The Best New Voices of 2006. Rachel is a full-time editor for a romance e-book publisher.

Lee Edgar Tyler is Associate Professor of English and director of the Global Studies Program at Baton Rouge Community College, has served on the editorial staffs of The Missouri Review and Chariton Review, and is a former managing editor of the scholarly journal Oral Tradition. He carried the water in the early days of that nascent discipline, and he is among the principal reasons nobody calls it “nascent” anymore 

Sabra Wineteer grew up in Moss Bluff, Louisiana. She has since lived in England, New Zealand, Germany, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and currently bides in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and their three tweens. Her work has appeared in TWINS Magazine, storySouth, The Rumpus, 7X20, and the anthology 140 And Counting. She has workshopped her fiction with Antonya Nelson, Charles D'Ambrosio, and Margaret Atwood. She is the 2012 Joyce Horton Johnson Fiction Award recipient.

These three plunged right in, did more than their share, and asked for more. They too cast a cold, critical, filtering eye. But also exercised the kind of nurturing kindness to new writers that I like to think is a distinguishing feature of GHLL practice and mission.  I hear back from writers who are grateful for the generous comments and guidance they received. In this issue, once again, we have among the highly published, senior authors, a number of people making their first appearance in an established, juried journal. We don’t identify them as such, because their work doesn’t.

Next year will be our silver anniversary. And here we have fresh blood, fresh eyes, fresh air. We’re going to be here for a while. Thanks, everybody. Everybody.

 

ABD

Kirksville 

July 2013