Here we are in early 2019, about to launch a new issue of Wraparound South, and a government shutdown is still in effect, climate disaster warnings are on the rise, and a trade war has sent Wall Street into mayhem. Yet there are also many hopeful stories on the news, from the power of the #MeToo movement to bring an unprecedented number of women into elected positions, to the outspoken courage of the Parkland shooting survivors and their mission to give meaning to their ordeal.
Times like these, full of controversies, changes, and hard truths, are great fodder for art and for writing that stimulates deep thinking as much as it inspires and moves us. This issue aims to offer readers of all tastes something to satisfy their hunger.
It is to the Parkland survivors that the cover art of this issue of Wraparound South is dedicated, conceived and executed by Deirdre Verdolino as a homage to the students’ courage and their admirable efforts to end violence and bring change.
Humor dominates Todd Sentell’s “Jimmy Carter Ain’t Got No Mail,” a high-school road-trip into the fascinating, contradictory, and sometimes bizarre southern Georgia historical landmarks. In Barbara Bottner’s “Missing Persons,” a woman’s unresolved parental neglect and abandonment issues unravel before the eyes of wealthy octogenarians at a Jewish retirement community in south Florida. In poetry, Lorraine Merrin’s “Family (Again)” captures the ironies of large family gatherings and the accidental tourists they sometimes attract, and it’s again the subject of a family reunion, but with a modern-family twist, that tickles the funny bone in “The Sailor from the Oil Tanker” by Evan Marcey.
If social justice is in your taste buds, look to Ashley Anderson’s “Locks” on the estrangement from one’s own body that a disability can cause. J. Jacqueline McLean’s “The Project Lie” examines how the promise of opportunity, equality, and freedom that drew thousands of southerners to the Chicago Projects in the 70’s turned the American dream into a a living hell and robbed an innocent girl of her integrity and inner peace. Kim Harvey’s “Requiem to a Monument” is a choir of voices from the left, right, and center of unresolved and unreconciled views on racism, and Susan Beckham Zurenda in “In-School Suspension” exposes the painful and destructive social class divides that manifest as early as high-school.
If experimental and non-traditional is your preference, there is plenty here to satisfy: Robert Stone’s “Hindsight” is a Borges-esque drama unfolding in a pharmaceutically-weaponized near future where pills can offer perfect memory, while Tom Hearron’s “Nick Of Time” satirizes thankless parental sacrifices when a woman is tricked into a literal race against time to regain her daughter’s love. Mark Stein dazzles us with his hybrid long poem in “The Dust Of John Wilke’s Booth,” a retelling composed of news snippets, excerpts from historical archive documents, and poeticized monologues that create a sense of uninterrupted continuance with history invariably linked to the Virginia landscape.
There is more: the lyrical pieces, like Dominic Laing’s “The Difference Between a Deer and a Bullet” about the consuming and often thankless demands of true art, and pieces that capture the beauty, strangeness, and often tortured soul of the South, like Michele Strider and Aaron Buchanan’s fictions, or Kathryn Jordan and Paul Kiernan’s poems, while Christina Holzhauser, Vicki Austin, Tracy Harris, and Todd Sentell’s essays offer us reflections of southern life that span from the traditional to the irreverent.
This issue is as much a “wraparound” of literary tastes and Southern-tinged themes as we could have hoped to put together, and we hope that these selections will enlighten you and make you think as much as they make you laugh and touch the heart.
Laura Valeri, Managing Editor