Geeta Kothari, Coal Maps, and Jail Poetry

Geeta Kothari, Coal Maps, and Jail Poetry

The new issue of The Fourth River’s online component is live.  Our featured selection is Geeta Kothari’s story “Wish You Were Here.”  When I was selecting fiction for our website, I noticed a musical theme developing and went with it.  It just felt right.  But aside from how she uses music in the story, I was struck by the story’s transitions, how she develops an evocative sense of ambiguity in the story’s seemingly empty spaces.

This issue’s map image is courtesy the David Rumsey Map Collection and Blog.  I picked it because it seems to mimic the activity and sweat of our featured story.  But, according to Rumsey’s website, the map, a work of art in of itself, shows the “Coal Field of the Great Kanawha Valley of West Virginia.”  It was drafted by John S. Swann in, an attorney, and published in 1867 by Colton & Co.  You can see the entire map here.   If you look hard enough, you can see Pittsburgh. 

And finally, an announcement in case you’re in Pittsburgh tomorrow: R. Dwayne Betts is giving a free public reading and book signing at Chatham  University.  From the press conference, the date is Friday, Dec. 2.  The reading will be at 8 PM at the Welker Room of James Laughlin Music Hall. Betts will read from his memoir A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison (Penguin/Avery, 2009), for which he won the 2010 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Debut. In addition, he will read from his collection of poems Shahid Reads His Own Palm (Alice James Books, 2010), which won the publisher’s Beatrice Hawley Award.  Betts’ work has appeared in Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review, and the Washington Post.  More information can be found here.

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