I tried to read the Summer 2007 Virginia Quarterly Review over lunch today. Big mistake: the issue is devoted to "Framing the War: Carolyn Cole, Ashley Gilbertson, and Chris Hondros on Photographing Iraq." Incredible photographs and moving testimonials--gory, unsentimental, and a lousy match for BBQ ribs. Sit down with VQR after dinner, with a strong drink and nothing else to do that evening. There's also a good essay by Matthew Power on the life and death of Brad Will, an activist and photographer who inadvertently filmed his own assassination during a political protest in Oaxaca--footage that eventually appeared, hauntingly, on YouTube.
And you know what? I find the July/August issue of Poetry to be satisfying. Especially the prose (yes, really), which includes a series of vignettes/character studies of famous poets contributed by, among others, Sven Birkerts, Christopher Hitchens, Phyllis Rose, and Joseph Epstein. Much like the February "Valentine's" essays, they are compact and affecting. Funny poems by Tony Hoagland, too.
Finally, in the Summer BOMB, Matthea Harvey interviews the artist Kara Walker. I've been engaged by shows of Walker's work in Minnesota and New York: she uses racially- and sexually-charged antebellum images, usually in stark silhouettes applied directly to white museum walls. She took flack when she became one of the youngest ever MacArthur "Genius" grant recipients--some fellow African American artists charged she was exploiting their history, depicting her people as "savages." But you can't deny the power of ther work, or the value of the conversations it provokes. The fact that she produces such detailed shapes in cut paper is a tribute to her craft.
In October, the Whitney Museum of American Art will host Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love.