Southwestern American Literature
Southwestern American Literature is a biannual scholarly journal that includes literary criticism, fiction, poetry, and book reviews concerning the Greater Southwest.
Since its inception in 1971, the journal has published premier works by and about some of the most significant writers of the region.
Southwestern American Literature is indexed in The MLA International Bibliography, which can be found in most North American and European higher-education institutions, and Humanities International Complete, which can be found in libraries throughout North America.
© Center for the Study of the Southwest, Texas State University.
Current Issue: Volume 46 | Number 1 - Fall 2020
Editor | William Jensen
I know this sounds sentimental, or maybe just corny, but I love my job. It can be tough. It can be grueling. It can even be strange and spooky on the nights I work late and the building creaks and moans around me, empty but possibly not alone. But the truth is I cannot imagine a better gig for myself. I get to work with awesome people, talented writers and poets, and I get to indulge in everything about the Southwest. I spent a long time wrestling with the region from which I came, angry at the desert and the heat and the complicated history of it all. I still grapple with it, but I cannot deny that I love the ruggedness, the way the saguaros and the prickly pear endure. Javelina still wander my dreams. And whenever I hear Lydia Mendoza’s sweet voice, I close my eyes and smile and float away; I drift along the Rio Grande Valley, the Santa Fe Plaza, and the giant buttes of Monument Valley. My world is magical, dry, vast, and filled with spice.
I might be the luckiest guy on the block. I say that because I know a lot of people out there who cannot stand their coworkers, but I feel like mine, as cliché as it might sound, is a type of family. Our Editor-in-Chief, John Mckiernan-González, keeps the journals on track and helps recruit important critics. Our program coordinator, Tammy Gonzales, is considered the “mama bear” of the Center for the Study of the Southwest since she helps guide every speaker, student, and event that comes to our little building. She is the glue of the journals. Linda Rivas Vásquez, our Editorial Fellow, is an incredible, hardworking graduate student in the MFA program here at Texas State University, and I absolutely love discussing poetry and fiction submissions with her. I also want to take a second to acknowledge Adam Clark who runs our websites, media, and marketing. These are amazing people who make my job a lot more fun than I deserve. They are who make Southwestern American Literature possible.
The Southwest is a special place. And if you let it, it will stay with you no matter where you go. Similarly, every issue of Southwestern American Literature is special, each edition stays with you long after you read the last page. Our small team here is always excited to showcase new voices and fresh viewpoints, engaging stories that might be ignored elsewhere. This season we are thrilled to bring you a plethora of scholarship, poetry, fiction, and criticism. From cover to cover, we range from South Texas to the Hill Country to New Mexico and beyond. We promise that Southwestern American Literature is honest and eclectic and wild like the Southwest itself.
We are fortunate to bring you an incredible essay by Susan Roberson titled “Canícula, Intaglio, and a Feminist Aesthetics of South Texas,” which tackles the big questions of regional literature. By exploring specific similarities of language and themes, this essay is groundbreaking for scholarship regarding the Rio Grande Valley and the writers who come from there. I am also thrilled that this issue has a new interview with author Tim O’Brien. I know that Mr. O’Brien’s novels often deal with the Vietnam war and that he is originally from Minnesota, so a lot of people might be puzzled about why he is included in a publication focused on the American Southwest, so I should note that Tim O’Brien has been an important literary figure in Central Texas for almost twenty years, particularly to Texas State University since he has held the Roy F. and Joann Cole Mitte Endowed Chair in Creative Writing four times between 2003 and 2012, and he continues to conduct workshops and speaking engagements on our campus and at the Katherine Anne Porter House up the road in the city of Kyle. This interview, conducted by Koki Nomura, provides incredible insight into the man’s view of art, fatherhood, politics, and the power of storytelling. All of us are delighted to share with you this interview with a National Book Award winning author who has been called not only the “poet laurate of war” but also “the greatest writer of his generation.”
This issue of Southwestern American Literature also has a new short story by a budding writer by the name Reuben Sanchez, and he might be as lauded as Tim O’Brien one day. His short story “Sanctuary” is a powerful piece about legacies and legends. I bet it will make you shudder in the best ways imaginable. We also have some wonderful poetry including “A Sip from the Claret Cup” and “The Woman and the Coyote” by Betsy Bernfeld, and we have “Never Green” by Ivan Hobson, both talented poets who I suspect you are going to hear a lot from in the next few years. Mark Paryz gives us his thoughts on a new anthology about the “Weird Western” genre, a fascinating category where sci-fi and the strange meet with western tropes. And poet Carol Hamilton gives us her review of Some Electric Hum by Janice Northerns.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Southwestern American Literature, and I hope you find something in these pages that make you stop, reflect, and smile. 2020 was not a great year, but most of us can still find something to be grateful for. I know I can.