In a small building on N. Washington St. on the Gettysburg College campus, editor Mark Drew and his team work quietly and diligently to curate content for the college’s quarterly literary magazine. The Gettysburg Review.
The Review, which was founded in 1988 and recognized as one of the nation’s leading literary journals, publishes poetry, essays, fiction and paintings for an international reading audience.
In this episode, Drew discusses the challenge of reading through the “black pile” of over 6,000 manuscripts submitted each year, the magazine’s dedication to nurturing new writers, and the many awards won by successful authors.
On this page we also published Drew’s poem, “My Father as Houdini”, which was accepted into the magazine in 1995.
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Musical introduction by Thane Pittman.
My Father as Houdini
1. The Car Wreck Challenge
Geared and floating,
I’m breathing in gasoline and antifreeze.
I’m losing blood. My teeth are lost
among safety glass cubes
shimmering dash. A crowd gathers.
Where are my assistants? Thin vapor trails
from the buckled hood, accumulates
on the car and Poof!
2. The Tower of Death
I’m not supposed to die. No one is.
Everyone wants me back;
you want me back.
I can not make any promise,
but think of my body full of preservatives,
think of the lifetime of the soul.
With the right audience, anything is possible
if you know the trick.
Watch me take these words out of your mouth
like a knotted skein of multicolored handkerchiefs
my mother, your mother and her mother are crying in
at my death.
Larval, with straight shirt,
my ankles bound and hanging on a hook,
I bend over you like a nightmare and I’m writhing.
Locked in a coffin of water and glass, I squirm,
utter secrets so as not to turn away.
I’m a chained ghost in your mouth,
I am a face hanging in a hallway.
I insinuate myself into you.
I’ve always known how to keep an audience.
4. The show must go on
Baby we live
from deception to deception.
You keep me on stage.
My last tip?
Look at me and I will live forever;
turn away and we’ll both disappear.
Mark Drew earned his MFA from the University of Alabama, where he edited the Dark Warrior Review from 1993-95. Currently, he works as an associate editor of Gettysburg Review. It was his first publication.
“My Father as Houdini” appears in the Summer 1995 issue of The Gettysburg Review.