- Editor's Note
Seven years ago, I sat foot in Westminster Abbey for the first time. As a staunch Anglophile and lover of history, I was overwhelmed as I walked among the tombs and effigies and quire stalls, sensing the veil grow thin between present and past. But when I reached Poets' Corner—as I studied the memorials to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, A.E. Housman, and William Wordsworth—I was carried for a moment back across the ocean to Appalachia, back to a poet who numbers this trio among his literary heroes. [End Page 5] Since the publication of his debut collection, Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions, in 2001, Maurice Manning has established himself as one of America's preeminent poets of the rural, as his subsequent books have considered the life of Daniel Boone, the mysterious Creator of nature called Boss, the voices and stories of old-timers from deep Appalachian hollows, and the "dimming green" that underscores the gradual disappearance of rural life.
As this year's featured author, Manning has provided us with all new work—a clutch of startling poems that contemplates the joy, grief, and inherent mystery of rural life. The tellers of these poems call our attention to a truth "as plain / as a dead leaf": how nature can show us the way, how the history of a country can be buried in a rural place name, how art can be found in the feather of a humble bird. The power and poetic impulse behind such renderings are also on display, found both in Manning's craft essay about Wallace Stevens and in his interview with friend and fellow poet Marianne Worthington.
In this issue we are also proud to feature astonishing work from a number of talented writers, including Deborah Reed Downing, whose story "Fish and Wildlife" was recently awarded the Betty Gabehart Prize from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference; Jessie van Eerden, whose essay "Yoke" brims with rhythm and meaning; and Sean Patrick Hill, who takes us to the Red River Gorge in his essay "A Country of Edges"; and numerous others.
In "The Prelude," Wordsworth recalled his childhood, of being bequeathed A knowledge, a dim earnest, of the calm / That nature breathes among the hills and groves. May you encounter that wisdom in the gentle winds of these pages. [End Page 6]