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Tampa Review 49
We are pleased to begin our fiftieth year by featuring selections from My Generation: Young Chinese Artists, an exhibition showcasing some of the new world-class artists who have emerged in China since 2000. This exhibition—a collaboration between the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Museum of Art— offers stunning visual evidence that Florida is fully engaged in global cultural dialog. The show runs here June 7-September 28, 2014, before traveling to Oklahoma City Museum of Art, where it will be on view October 25, 2014-January 18, 2015. The works speak for themselves while bridging the country and spanning the globe.
The literary contents of TR49 reflect a new generation’s struggle with “Utopia”—as Qui Xiaofei visually depicts on the cover. Poet Zeina Hashem Beck also expresses it in her opening poem as she personifies a world “trying to tip over its pain.” Daniel Gabriel describes a utopian interlude in his 2009 visit to “Syria Before It All Went South.” By contrast, Malcolm Garcia struggles to find grounds for faith amidst horror and ruin in “Praying in Reyhanli.”
Less destructive but deeply troubling is the singing war started by Mrs. Mudd in Jill Birdsall’s “The Beer Garden,” where experiences that promise harmony become discordant when inflected by greed, ego, and nationalism. Poet Michael Hettich takes a higher view in “Certain Constellations,” in which attentiveness to the natural world affirms the possibility of harmony if “we might move into/the circle of its song.”
The issue concludes with struggles from our more recent past portrayed in Vincent Czyz’s “Straightsville,” set in the 1980s, mostly at a gay rally in Manhattan. The story’s narrator experiences a series of mutual misreadings that blur the cultural divide between New York and New Jersey, gay and straight, work week and weekend. Czyz’s story suggests, as does the speaker of Knute Skinner ’s poem “What I Have Assembled,” that selves are multiple, that they can be torn apart and reassembled in diverse ways, and that people and generations may be more alike than different.
Finally, reproductions from the Tampa Poetry Review of fifty years ago remind us how both our distant and recent pasts contain the cultural heritage and visionary struggles that create each new version of “my generation.”