George Clack is a board member of the Little Patuxent Review. In this post, he shares one of his “Staff Picks” from the Summer Issue 2018 (available for purchase at this link).
At the Little Patuxent Review’s Summer Issue launch reading on June 2nd, Derrick Weston Brown blew me away with his reading of his poem “Bruuuuuh or When Brothers Debate Black Panther in a Safeway Parking Lot: A Found (Overheard) Poem.” It’s a poem that feels as if it wants to be performed but a work that also offers the pleasures of a close reading on the printed page.
Virtue #1: authenticity, the ultimate literary value for me. It’s the writer’s ability to make me believe in his story, his setting, his tropes, his you-name-it. Call it the art of the real. To my ancient white guy’s ear, this poem pulses with authenticity. Brown creates this effect primarily through an old reliable technique, putting the vernacular—or, as some might say, the language of the street—to use for some serious fun.
George Clack joined the Little Patuxent Review’s board last summer and has taken on the role of social media coordinator. In recent years he’s been teaching literature and film in the continuing education programs at Howard Community College and Johns Hopkins University. Previously, he worked as a magazine editor with the National Endowment for the Arts, then the U.S. Information Agency, finally morphing into a digital editor, publisher, and content provider with the U.S. State Department. For three years he blogged on books and writing at 317am. In the Q&A that follows, he answers questions about LPR, why he loves the journal, and why he devotes so much time to it.
Q: What brought you to the Little Patuxent Review?
The magazine’s publisher emeritus and presiding spirit, Mike Clark, and the publisher, Desiree Magney, recruited me. It was a little like what I imagine being recruited by the CIA or MI6 might be. Through word of mouth, they’d apparently determined I was the right sort, and so then I had to decide whether I was willing to carve some time out of my busy life to do real work for the LPR. I thought hard about this: you could say I’m hooked on great writing or that I believe that literature is a force for good in the world. Either way, I know from my own experience that what writers want above all is to have readers. The mission of the LPR for me is to connect writers—particularly writers just starting out—with readers. So in a sense I joined the LPR this year for the same reason I joined IndivisibleHoCoMD, the local Trump resistance movement: to put my beliefs into action. Mike Clark likes to say working on the LPR is a labor of love for everybody involved. I’d agree.