Tag Archives: Fall 2016

Evoking Female Spirits: An Interview with Lina Vitkauskas


by Michael Stephens

Lina ramona Vitkauskas is a Chicago poet from an Eastern European background. Though her poems derive from the Midwest, where she grew up and was educated, her sensibility is inspired by Surrealism (both French and Eastern European), contemporary American poetry, and those stories of resistance that originate in the former Soviet colonies that are now part of the European Union, including Estonia and Lithuania, the latter from where her own family comes.

In a prose introduction to her new poetry book, White Stockings (White Hole Press, $12), Vitkauskas writes: “During the Chechen Wars, stories began to circulate about certain snipers—blonde-haired, blue-eyed, cold-blooded female snipers called beliye kolgotki by the Russians. The White Tights (or White Stockings) so named because they were said to only wear white, were rumored to be contract killers paid by the Chechens on a kill-by-kill basis. They were supposedly paid to aim not for their targets’ heads—but for their genitals.” No proof of their existence ever surfaced, but the White Stockings became part of Russian combat folklore—a fitting antidote to a culture so hyper-masculine as Putin’s Russia. Vitkauskas does not expound upon this legend in a linear fashion but rather as a poet, running variations on the theme. Her poems are a kind of shamanic chant, evoking these female spirits.

Michael Stephens: Tell us how you came to write White Stockings, and why?

whitestockingsLina Vitkauskas: This chapbook was inspired by a Russian-created myth from the time of the Chechen Wars. Russian soldiers had spread rumors that Baltic women trained to be snipers lurked in the deep forests of Chechnya, helping guerilla fighters by assassinating Russian soldiers. I was following the Ukrainian conflict in the news throughout 2013 and 2014, and I uncovered some stories about these women; I began to find that a few legitimate news sources had reported on them, specifically on the ongoing debate of their existence.

As a first-generation Lithuanian-American my thoughts were—and are—with the Ukrainian people fighting for their right to remain autonomous. After Russia’s illegitimate annexation of Crimea, it became clear: Putin was on a nostalgic path from his KGB days, wanting to fuse the USSR back together by taking what does not belong to him. The Baltics have “seen this movie” before, and it does not end well, so leaders in the region raised warnings early on, before the conflict, that soft power had become prevalent throughout the Baltics. These countries have since called for increased NATO presence, as they feel threatened.

I wanted to tell the story of these fictitious women through poetry and Lithuanian folklore; I wanted to inhabit them to understand the mindset of the lone, female assassin. I’m not drawn to violence; I’m drawn to the concepts of justice and defending one’s freedom, of heritage, and of narrow-minded world views versus expansive, communal views of seeing the world. The sniper scope seemed to be fitting metaphor.

MS: How does White Stockings relate to your other publications?

LV: Prior to White Stockings, I’d written about five poetry books and/or chapbooks. In my work, I tend to circulate around themes somewhat, but my first book, The Range Of Your Amazing Nothing (Ravenna Press, 2010), is strictly a collection of various poems from 1999-2005.

Failed Star Spawns Planet/Star (dancing girl press, 2006) blended my fascination with astronomy and autobiography…it namely serves as a moment in universal time—it is me, questioning my existence within the universe (doesn’t all poetry?).

In A Neon Tryst (Shearsman Books, 2013), I used ekphrasis to dissect films. I love films, and, very often, I tend to think in short films in my head, so this work meant a lot to me. I wrote it over the course of many evenings, just freezing scenes or silencing the sound, playing a variety of music over scenes. It was a way to inhabit the role of director, and address a few films I find important.

Spiny Retinas (Mutable Sound, 2014) was an ambitious experiment, influenced by pop culture and indirectly addressing rape culture. It was a statement on misogyny in some ways, and in others, it was an experiment in format and language.

Honey Is A She (Plastique Press, 2012) was my take on a divorce, using colony-collapse disorder as my guiding metaphor throughout.

White Stockings is topical, it addresses a conflict I feel strongly about, yet it incorporates facets of the other books, specifically identity (gender and culture), myth, folklore, global community, existence.

MS: What does it mean for you to be a Lithuanian-American, and does it have any effect on how you write?

LV: I think Lithuanians are inherently suspicious, and therefore we question things constantly. Much of this comes from a historic place, constant occupation and oppression, and therefore, there lies an undercurrent of instability. There is a deep connection to the idea that all things are temporary and uncertain—very Buddhist, in my opinion. Yet, there is also a deep sorrow felt there, for the many lives lost throughout the centuries fighting to sustain identity. There is also a swelling sense of national pride. Lithuanian is the oldest living language closest to Sanskrit; we are survivors, found ways to preserve language and culture against all odds.

There is a tremendous confusion when I look to my American side. Deep within me, genetically coded, lives quiet, patient fatalism, and the optimistic American part cannot reconcile with it. Dark comedy often comes this place. It has a deep impact on how I think and therefore write—everything to me is beautiful and absurd simultaneously, real and unreal.

MS: What is the difference for you between prose and poetry, especially as it relates to a subject such as Russian aggression in Eastern Europe?

LV: Russians, of course, are natural storytellers. Some of the best prose writers in the world, of course, are Russian. They craft stories beautifully; they unpack miles of detail expertly. I think because suffering is innate to Lithuanian existence, it is inevitable we have a poetic soul as a people. We began, for example, as a peaceful, pagan people under the watchful eyes of vengeful sea and sky gods, as well as malicious nymphs and dwarves attempting to teach us “life lessons.” And I believe suffering is intrinsic to poetry. Poetry is a form of expression that is natural to our people; we are Indo-European, not Slavic, so the tradition of compact word, sound, and image perhaps comes more freely.

MS: Tell us a little bit about your influences, and why they influence you so much.

LV: My background, of course. There is something embedded in our culture, I think, that spawns great attraction to creating and coveting secrets. So secrecy is a big influence. I sometimes like to think of poetry as a coded language. Lithuanians often had to bury or hide their true intentions through coded writings during Soviet times. So that resonates with me.

The Surrealists, George Maciunas (Fluxus), and film (Godard, Jodorowsky, Fellini) all influence my work. I admire the forms of documentary and experimental particularly. I love the truth and nakedness of humanity explored in documentary, but I’m also drawn to the idea of creating stunning visual worlds, and therefore new realities. Two films that leap to mind are Tree of Life (Malick) and The Fall (Tarsem). I also love absurd premises that unfurl into comedic tragedy. I just saw The Lobster, probably one of the best films I’ve seen in awhile. 8 ½ and Fando y Lis are two of my favorite films.

Dark humor, existentialism, the absurd, the “weird”, astronomy, science-fiction, folklore . . . these are all things that I gravitate to. I am naturally curious about existence, the universe, and what exactly we are . . . our place in all of it as mere human beings. I’m asking the question “why am I here?” daily, so seeing everything in life as groundless and bizarre helps me immensely in forming images and ideas.

Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2016 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2016

There is one crow that will not stop cawing

Rushing Pittman
Another New Calligraphy ($16)

by Rebecca Valley

The short, staccato poems that make up Rushing Pittman's There is one crow that will not stop cawing are built on the kind of frank, vulnerable statements about desire and identity not often heard outside a therapist's office. These poems, which have the same weight and clarity as a child's inquiries about death or love, are a startlingly earnest reminder of how little certainty we have as adults, and the ways in which we still think and love like children. Pittman's titles themselves are a kind of poem—in the table of contents the stunning juxtaposition of the lines “I am retaining water, air, lungs / I am trying to become more myself so that I vanish / I have become quiet so the world will not swallow me” are an indicator of both the imagination and the openness that unfolds in the pages beyond.

In a statement about the book, Pittman writes, “I wanted to sit as still as possible and be silent. I counted the weeds. I considered making a garden. I listened to one crow cawing repeatedly. I think that eventually, as this project went on, I became very much like him.” Pittman plays varying roles in this text—at certain moments the poems speak with the desperate, desirous call of the crow who will not stop asking for love, but at other moments the poems are more violent and predatory. “I am consuming all the petals in the garden” ends:

I will kill this year.
Drop it at your door.
Make it your year.

In these lines the narrator has the sincerity of a cat dropping a dead animal at the doorstep. There is a comfort here with our natural, predatory instinct; the cat sees this innocent, dead creature as a gift rather than an atrocity, in the same way that Pittman's poems seem to accept rather than question the suffering that accompanies love.

At their best, the poems of There is one crow that will not stop cawing have the meditative quality of haiku, as in “Inside my mouth there are ten babies”:

It is beautiful out.
It is always beautiful somewhere.
None of us deserve it.
I am a large gem.
I am an entire organism in the open world.

Pittman balances violence and joy in a way that mimics memories of childhood or the cycle of life. These poems scream out for love the way a bird or a frog does—repetitively, hopefully—and simultaneously come to terms with loss, loneliness, confusion, and the childishness we can never discard. In “I have never been married” Pittman balances the thrill of new love with its uncertainty, and embraces the child-like urges we are taught to suppress as adults:

The beautiful woman is coming over for dinner!
I am making Kool-Aid in a big bowl.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There is a great distance between us.
I want to shove her into a pool.

There is one crow that will not stop cawing is an honest book; honest about love, about want, about loneliness, and about the way we intentionally and unintentionally hurt each other. Short and fresh as the spring, these poems offer clearly and unabashedly all the thoughts we are afraid to speak to one another.

Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2016 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2016

distance decay

distancedecayCathy Eisenhower
Ugly Duckling Presse ($16)

by Isaac Pickell

In picking distance decay from a shelf, one might imagine that Cathy Eisenhower spends her third collection of poetry meditating on geography. And yet, enclosed within the cover’s aerial photograph of a pacifying beach scene are testaments to violence. In this collection, the poet splinters the body of both victim and rapist, combing through remains in search of pieces that retain humanity: fist, rib, eyelid, tongue. She progressively blurs her voice and its sympathies, slipping into a series of perspectives from which the body trauma is perceived.

Throughout, distance decay seems to be searching for a language and form that can navigate the experience and consequence of rape. Early on, Eisenhower remains tethered to the viscerally exclusive, bleeding her personal iteration of survival through poetry that is foregrounded in the doubt, distance, and fury often associated with the aftermath of sexual violence. The poetry gives voice to the assumed questioning of her project, then implicates the reader for their complicit silence: “you don’t have to write about rape / if you want to . . . / you don’t have to rape / to not write about it . . .” This presence gives way, in turns, to scientific detachment and graphic violence, as both subject and object are put under the microscope, burned, torn, and bloodied.

What’s left is desiccated by an elaborate and dialectical chain of metaphor, renaming rape and its various requisite violences while also applying rape to mismatched ideas and practices, from whiteness to gardening. The device is never ambiguous. Rather, Eisenhower destabilizes meaning in order to remind us how obvious and pervasive the assumptions about rape really are: “Rape is a great metaphor for rape.”

The work slips into satiric solidarity with her rapist, at times blaring the full volume of her anger in sardonic, bold font. Declarations like “rapists need the most love” feel titular to a book of apologetics generations of victims have written, in living rooms, courtrooms, bedrooms, poetry. Eisenhower succeeds in inverting the burden with which victims are supposed to be weighed down, producing a liberatory narrative and opening a space for the survivor.

And yes, despite the strength and confidence of the work, distance decay is a poetics of survival. Moments of pure vulnerability carve through the pages, disrupting the witty, associative play Eisenhower indulges in, a successfully uncomfortable game for a reader to witness: “does my rapist recollect raping me as often as I do?” At times, the verse abandons its energy altogether, and one can actively experience the trauma as it overwhelms the poet’s syntax and spelling: “aw iating neck scent pro ximity or feed thirst y on cold me tallic flow ers.” In distance decay, Eisenhower invites us to observe as she investigates her own survival.

Click here to purchase this book at your local independent bookstore
Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2016 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2016

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

devilsrockPaul Tremblay
William Morrow ($25.99)

by Bryan Miller

Often the horror genre implores its readers to embrace some level of delightful hokum. Fantastical events become the fulcrum around which the story pivots. The supernatural turns toward metaphor, provides a shocking contrast to reality, or at worst becomes an end in itself.

For Paul Tremblay, the horror creeps out of the spaces between the explanations we craft to reconcile irrational occurrences. In his latest novel, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, the unthinkable situation is the disappearance of a child. Teenage Tommy Sanderson sneaks off to a nearby state park to drink illicit beers with his friends, but vanishes into the woods. His nervous pals Josh and Luis phone Tommy’s mother, Elizabeth, in the middle of the night to ask if he happened to come back home—they haven’t seen him since he ran off into the darkness without a word.

The novel begins as a missing-child narrative dealing in tropes familiar from both brooding thrillers and those pathos-drenched Oprah Book Club selections of yore: the calm but stern detective trying to navigate through a fog of misinformation; the bustling makeshift headquarters where volunteers form search parties; a carrion-scavenger flock of cameramen and reporters; stunned family members sorting through the detritus of a vacant bedroom and blaming themselves.

Tremblay’s deft exploration of the maddening nature of uncertainty distinguishes the book from standard fare, though. The increasing pressure of doubt pushes otherwise pragmatic characters to embrace rumor and superstition. Frustratingly fragmentary bits of information compel Elizabeth to explore her darkest imaginings. There are Tommy’s diary pages, which continue mysteriously appearing two and three at a time on the living room floor, and rumors of a shadowy figure seen lurking around the neighborhood—one she strains to connect to a wilting phantom she might have seen one night in a dark corner of her bedroom, a spectral shadow that look awfully like the missing Tommy.

The author torments his characters with the terrible weight of his questions, but ultimately he doesn’t skimp on the answers. As with his last novel—the exceptional Head Full of Ghosts, one of the best horror novels of the last couple decades—Tremblay is adept at knowing just how much to reveal so as to retain the essential mystery of the unknown without being vague or coy. In doing so, he achieves the disorienting effect of looping the reader into the same confounded paranoia from which the characters suffer. Without ever explicitly inviting the reader to make a leap of logic, he tricks us into doing it voluntarily. Like the great Shirley Jackson or, more recently, Brian Evenson, Tremblay is able to inspire the kind of dreadful doubt of our own perceptions that lingers, the shadow of a doubt that won’t die.

Click here to purchase this book at your local independent bookstore
Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2016 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2016

Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing During the Cold War

workshopsofempireEric Bennett
University of Iowa Press ($22.50)

by Rebecca Weaver

For a long time, I took Flannery O’Connor’s quip about universities and writers (when asked if universities stifle writers, she responded: “not enough of them”) to be an elitist view of the gatekeeping function performed by big-name MFA programs such as her alma mater, the University of Iowa. After reading Eric Bennett’s Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing During the Cold War, I’m less willing to interpret it as plain snobbishness or cranky hierarchal thinking; I now see the attitude as the desired product of an ideological program set in motion during the Cold War.

In Workshops, Bennett demonstrates how the aesthetic dominance of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, run by Paul Engle, and the creative writing program at Stanford, run by Wallace Stegner, were specific products of their place and time: the U.S. in the 1950s. The programs were not only funded and supported by various policies and agencies of the government (such as the GI Bill and the CIA and UNESCO), but also by private foundations (notably the Rockefeller Foundation). Bennett’s book is part of the emerging academic genre of “institutional studies,” and he uses a combination of archival research, literary analysis, social history, and intellectual history. This genre, especially as it pertains to writing and its institutions, will become more important as we realize that specific, contingent, and grounded history is crucial to our discourses about writing.

While many have attributed words such as “natural” and “quality” to the phenomenon of Iowa’s eminence and dominance, Bennett argues that the type of writing valued at Iowa (and the programs established by its alums) grew out of specific goals and desires, as well as “ambitions and weird fears,” associated with the Cold War. When those goals dovetailed with governmental or philanthropic goals, they were funded quite well. Bennett begins by limning the intellectual climate of the Cold War, reaching back to a previous era when Paul Engle was mentored by Norman Foerster, a scion of the New Humanism movement. “New Humanism,” active for the first years of the twentieth century, promoted a kind of ethical and aesthetic system highly dependent on the idea of the salvific, liberalist individual who was particular, complex, independent, and irreducible. This writer and his works would be immune to the seductions of mass-inciting and mass-produced “theory” and ideology such as communism and fascism.

For New Humanists, including Foerster’s mentor Irving Babbitt, literature was not a genre of knowledge, but a “mode of aesthetic appreciation,” and over the years, the fiction and poetry that most exemplified this cultivation—the realistic yet literary fiction and the individualistic / quietist poetry—would dominate at Iowa. Bennett argues that what we know as the “Iowa style” wasn’t just a style. In affirming the “wholeness” of the human being, this sort of literature disavowed social, cultural, or political theories that might threaten that irreducible wholeness. Programs that trained post-war graduate students in this aesthetic helped protect writers from those theories by softly containing writers within universities.

In his chapter “The Rockefeller Foundation and Postwar Internationalism,” Bennett effectively uses archival research to show how financial underwriting from influential private institutions, as well as organizations such as USIA and UNESCO, played a “larger role in the institutionalization of Creative Writing than any one poet, novelist, or professor”. For example, Rockefeller Foundation money supported The Kenyon Review in providing substantial writers’ grants, allowing the journal to establish itself as the standard bearer of New Criticism and to promote and elevate the careers of its favorite authors.

Calling Engle “The Creative Writing Cold Warrior,” Bennett shows how Engle’s biography positioned him to become the champion of Midwestern American values as expressed in and through the Writers’ Workshop. Bennett argues that Engle’s incredible energy (as well as a fervent rejection of his youthful “pink” phase) helped him to develop relationships with extra-institutional funders, including the CIA, and to provide the workshop its position at the top of the workshop hierarchy. In his chapter on Stegner, Bennett focuses more on that director’s personality—his forging of a middle way between the Romantic rebel and the academic institution—the “artist in the faculty lounge” as a component of the workshop’s success. Bennett also portrays Stegner’s essential centrism with compassion and insight, arguing that Stegner’s embrace of centrism (and rejection of all forms of militancy) allowed him to succeed in the first decades of the Stanford program. Later, his stance against militancy was seen by a younger generation as too conservative.

As Bennett rounds the curve to conclude the book, he uses the example of how two very different writers, Ernest Hemingway and Henry James, came to be “Canonical Bedfellows” in the MFA program curriculum across many schools, arguing that their different qualities as craftsmen and professionals served the purposes of the postwar workshop well. In James, aspiring writers could see an example of craft and mastery which avoided intellective fiction, and Hemingway provided a “fusion” of the rebel with self-imposed discipline. Both authors “suited the postwar imperative to purge abstractions from literature.”

The purging of abstraction, the rejection of intellectualism and big theories, and the almost religious emphasis on senses over ideas in writing workshops, were not always already there, Bennett argues convincingly. He states that his main priority for Workshops was to “contribute to the artistic freedom of writers writing today by making clear that conventions that often go without saying—conventions that are invisible because seemingly timeless—once emerged from contingent historical circumstances.” Those circumstances included the “pervading anxiety” of the Cold War, and particularly for Engle, the 1950s cultural conflation of the author figure with the figure of the communist, homosexual, or transient.

The most important part of the conclusion is Bennett’s meditation on how much current writing programs and pedagogy reflect Cold War origins in prioritizing senses over ideas. While focusing on the senses might be a good beginning pedagogical tool, Bennett feels the teaching shouldn’t end there, for “the history of literature makes clear that some of the most enlivening and fruitful debates about poetic form and social significance have raised and interrogated rather than foreclosed the question of the relationship between the sensory and the abstract, the lived and the reasoned out. That hundreds of MFA programs, or even that scores of them, should unwittingly stifle such conversations constitutes a failure.” Workshops is a crucial text in our understanding of that failure.

Click here to purchase this book at your local independent bookstore
Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2016 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2016

Fall 2016


Feminism, Spirituality, and Changing Mores:
An Interview with Alicia Suskin Ostriker

A poet of emotional depth and psychological wisdom, Alicia Suskin Ostriker discusses the great range of her life’s work and concerns in this freewheeling conversation with a friend. 
Interviewed by Daniela Gioseffi

CLOSE READING: An Interview with Derek Walcott
A chance meeting with the Nobel Laureate in St. Lucia leads to a frenzied bout of researched questions—all cast to the wind in favor of rhapsodizing about Hart Crane.
Interviewed by Michael Swingen

The Fluidity of the Human Brain: An Interview with Frank Bures
Bures discusses the themes of storytelling and culturally driven world views found in his book, The Geography of Madness.
Interviewed by Scott F. Parker

Evoking Female Spirits: An Interview with Lina Vitkauskas
Vitkauskas’s new collection of poetry is inspired by the myth of female Baltic snipers paid to kill Russian soldiers during the Chechen Wars.
Interviewed by Michael Stephens


Wyatt at the Coyote Palace: An Interview with Kristin Hersh
We sit down for a chat with acclaimed author and musician Kristin Hersh, whose latest release is both a hardback book of stories and essays (and art, and lyrics) and a double album of new songs, all getting to “the heart of missing you.” Interviewed by Eric Lorberer


Dream Closet: Meditations on Childhood Space
Edited by Matthew Burgess
As a childhood expert on hidden nooks, Burgess is a natural to edit this anthology of personal tales of imaginary portals. Reviewed by John Bradley


Disorder 299.00
Aby Kaupang and Matthew Cooperman
Poets and parents Kaupang and Cooperman present this digital chapbook about their daughter Maya, who was born with autism and other physical challenges. Reviewed by Carol Ciavonne


Among the Gorgons
Michelle Boisseau
In her latest collection, Boisseau takes the reader through the looking glass, presenting a topsy-turvy cosmos. Reviewed by Denise Low

California Winter League
Chiyuma Elliott
Elliot’s debut collection of poetry gives shape and voice to what haunts her, while allowing the ineffable room to speak for itself. Reviewed by Ralph Pennel

Sjohnna McCray
Rapture is an absorbing homage to the author’s growing up as a biracial child of an African American father and Korean mother in the 1970s and ’80s. Reviewed by Renoir Gaither

Admit One: An American Scrapbook
Martha Collins
The third in a “race trilogy” of poetry books, Admit One relentlessly pushes against any sense that we live in a post-racial America. Reviewed by Edward A. Dougherty

There is one crow that will not stop cawing
Rushing Pittman
Pittman’s poems are a startlingly earnest reminder of how little certainty we have as adults, and the ways in which we still think and love like children. Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

distance decay
Cathy Eisenhower
Eisenhower’s latest poetry collection searches for a language and form that can navigate the experience and consequence of rape. Reviewed by Isaac Pickell


Alan Moore
Moore’s new massive tome is set in the town where he’s lived his entire life, features a cast of historical and familial characters, and spans both time and dimension. Reviewed by Greg Baldino

A Cage in Search of a Bird
Florence Noiville
Noiville’s novel investigates cases of erotomania by wrapping their peculiarities in the mantle of a psychological thriller. Reviewed by Jeff Alford

Jade Sharma
In her debut novel, Jade Sharma’s prose is unflinching as she tackles the tough realities of addiction.
Reviewed by Bradley Babendir

The Happy Marriage
Tahar Ben Jelloun
This latest translation by acclaimed Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun is a study in the unravelling of a marriage. Reviewed by Garry Craig Powell

The Other One
Hasanthika Sirisena
In this debut collection of short stories, Sri Lankans grapple with the aftermath of civil war, juggling between identity and acceptance.  Reviewed by Jackie Trytten

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock
Paul Tremblay
Horror creeps out of the spaces between the explanations we craft to reconcile irrational occurrences in Tremblay’s latest novel. Reviewed by Bryan Miller


1966: The Year the Decade Exploded
Jon Savage
According to Savage, what blew up was youth culture, and the explosive used was primarily pop music, which served as catalyst, mirror, and running commentary on the events of 1966. Reviewed by Brooke Horvath

To Think of Her Writing Awash in Light
Linda Russo
In these innovative essays, Linda Russo celebrates five female authors whose lives span the interval from the Romantic period to the present day. Reviewed by Catherine Rockwood

The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America From the Age of the Pullman Porters to the Age of Obama
Ethan Michaeli
Michaeli strives to convince his readers of the Defender’s ongoing relevance, with mixed results. Reviewed by Spencer Dew

Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews
Ted Geltner
This riveting bio delivers the full goods on Crews, a writer who was determined to succeed despite the handicaps of ill luck, alcoholism, and an impoverished upbringing. Reviewed by Patrick James Dunagan

The Accidental Life: An Editor's Notes on Writing and Writers
Terry McDonnell
A revealing look at the heyday of magazines, The Accidental Life narrates McDonnell’s editorial engagements with some of our most famous literary movers and shakers. Reviewed by D.W. Fenza

Messages from a Lost World: Europe on the Brink
Stefan Zweig
Zweig’s essays amount to songs of progress, bursting as they are with pride and fraternity. Reviewed by Jesse Freedman

Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle, and American Creative Writing During the Cold War
Eric Bennett
Bennett demonstrates how the aesthetic dominance of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the creative writing program at Stanford were specific products of 1950s America. Reviewed by Rebecca Weaver

Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2016 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2016

Jes Lee

83 Cover.inddJes Lee graduated in 2003 from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. Through the mediums of photography and book arts she explores location, landscape, and collective memory. She has exhibited in many venues around Minnesota and Wisconsin, and has an upcoming exhibition scheduled for July 2017 in Iowa. Jes Lee can often be found in her studio in NE Minneapolis, or wandering around the city with a camera. See more of her work at jesleestudios.com.


Image title: ’The Night of the Eclipse the Whole World Shimmered’ Medium: Compilation photograph, archival ink jet print Completed: 2016