The Hairy Man by Laurie Billman


It was midnight of our last night in the cannery, and all twelve of us who had been assigned the fish house had been working since seven that morning. All day and into the light-filled night, we had been cleaning fat salmon as they slithered out of the tin chutes directly from the salmon boats. White fish bellies were burned on my lids when I closed my eyes, and my ears sang with an exhausted hum. When the warning bell rang, down slid silver salmon, spilling, wet and shiny, onto the long, wooden tables. We … Continue reading The Hairy Man by Laurie Billman

Magical Thinking by Judy Longley

Hey Diddle Diddle illustration

Memphis, on the brink of World War II, a crowded city, my family squeezed in a small duplex. Mother and Father work in weapons factories. We’re gathered around the radio in our tiny living room. Suddenly a shout bursts from the curved wooden box— “Pearl Harbor has been bombed!” Three years old I hear Mother’s small scream, see my Father’s frown grow deeper. Not sure where or what Pearl Harbor might be, I’m afraid to sleep that night. I lull myself with a favorite nursery rhyme. Hey diddle diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The … Continue reading Magical Thinking by Judy Longley

From Close to Couric: Some upcoming events


      October 16 marks the official publication day for Erika Raskin’s debut novel, Close. Published by Harvard Square Editions, Close details the moving, wryly funny and ultimately fateful actions of a single mother trying to cope with raising three daughters.  The book has already generated some glowing advance reviews on (“an incredible family dynamic and a plot twist that makes it impossible to put the book down…”) Raskin, who lives in Charlottesville, says she has been writing “off and on since elementary school.”   Her fiction has been published in a number of … Continue reading From Close to Couric: Some upcoming events

Blake Hurt: “Gears are forever…”

Excess Power by Blake Hurt

  Machinery and tools—their design, operation and production—were early interests that would shape Blake Hurt’s professional and creative life. “I picked a field of engineering that would be relatively durable over time, where the current knowledge was unlikely to change. Computers change with the year, gears are forever,” says Hurt, a Virginia artist who earned degrees in mechanical engineering and business management from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Hurt worked briefly in New York finance before returning home to Charlottesville to establish his own building company. “When I started working in the building business, I … Continue reading Blake Hurt: “Gears are forever…”

Novelist Jane Smiley at Sweet Briar


On Wednesday, September 17th Jane Smiley presented a lecture and reading from her new novel, Some Luck, at Sweet Briar College in Amherst, Virginia. The novel is the first in a planned trilogy, The Last Hundred Years, about an Iowa farm family. Coincidentally, that same day the National Book Awards announced her one of the nominees for the fiction long list. Sweet Briar’s Memorial Chapel was filled with students, professors and a sprinkling of the general public. Behind the lectern, J.S., attractive and slender, in her sixties, with shoulder length blonde hair, was personable and … Continue reading Novelist Jane Smiley at Sweet Briar

An International Celebration of Poetry Right Here In Charlottesville


This coming Saturday Charlottesville’s  WriterHouse will host its own special segment of an international event in which poets all over the world will be gathering in a spirit of global uplift. The Charlottesville segment will take place Saturday, September 27 at WriterHouse (see: from 4:00 P.M. till 6:30. It’s free.  I attended this event last year at WriterHouse and want to draw your attention to it. Polly Lazaron, organizer for the event, reports that this is the fifth of these events in which she has participated and the second for which she has been … Continue reading An International Celebration of Poetry Right Here In Charlottesville

Picasso, Lydia and Friends by Lyn Bolen Warren


Lydia was larger than life. Her paintings, installations, lectures and scholarship were all intertwined, embodying her probing and profound intellect and her far ranging quest to decipher modern culture through the art of Pablo Picasso and other artists. Born into a Jewish family in Focsani, Romaniain 1926, Lydia Csato survived the German occupation of her country during World War II and went on to study art and the law at the University of Bucharest. By the 1950s, she was one of the most successful painters working in the Social Realist style mandated by Romania’s Communist … Continue reading Picasso, Lydia and Friends by Lyn Bolen Warren



Like many other people, I have had Ferguson, Missouri on my mind in recent weeks. I have been thinking most directly, of course, about Michael Brown, his parents, family members, friends, all those who feel his loss in a very personal way. I have been thinking about other parents who have lost their children, and all those black parents who worry whenever their teenage sons are out in the world and vulnerable. I have been trying to take in the range of emotions that have been on display as people have taken to the streets … Continue reading Ferguson



On August 7-10, I had the privilege of attending the Virginia Quarterly Review’s first writers’ conference, along with roughly 25-30 participants, at the Boar’s Head Inn right here in Charlottesville, VA. Three workshop leaders, poet Beth Ann Fennelly, Fiction writer Richard Bausch, and non-fiction/fiction writer Wells Tower each shone in their own way over the weekend; Beth Ann led a lively, ear-opening craft talk on sound (and a pretty great poetry workshop); Wells read from his GQ essay, “The Old Man at Burning Man,” sharing his experience of the event with his aging father; Richard … Continue reading VQR = GRT

The Name Game by Jane Bradley


It wasn’t until a government agent called me that I realized I was somebody else. Not an impostor exactly, but something like that. Since birth, I had been Jane Coffin Bradley, a moniker I bore through jibes at my lugubrious middle name and easy jabs like Jane the Pain. If I parried with Jane the Brain, it fell flat, and living in Indiana, it was useless to claim kin with the historic Coffins of Nantucket. (Nantucket was more famous as the launch of a naughty schoolyard limerick.) Once, when I was seven or so, I … Continue reading The Name Game by Jane Bradley

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