I just finished reading the inaugural issue of Fall Lines—a literary convergence, which our friends at Muddy Ford Press and Jasper—The Word on Columbia Arts released last week with a launch party and reading at the downtown branch of the Richland County Public Library on Sunday, June 8th, and a second reading and reception at Gallery West the next night. The library reading featured Fall Lines contributors Mary Hutchins Harris, Jo Ann Hoffman, Nicola Waldron, Ray McManus, Jonathan Brent Butler, and Susan Levi Wallach. The Gallery West reading featured contributors Tony Tallent, Debra A. Daniel, Betsy Breen, and Wallach again.
Muddy Ford Press is the parent company of Jasper, a local quarterly arts magazine made available for free at museums, galleries, theaters, restaurants, bars, and other businesses and organizations in the Columbia area. Fall Lines will be an annual collection of poetry and prose published in place of the summer issue of Jasper each year. Aside from being perfect bound rather than staple bound, Fall Lines‘s physical specs are basically the same as those of the other issues of the magazine. It’s roughly 8.5″X11″, with a color cover (which looks way better than the Amazon image to the right would suggest), and runs approximately 100 pages. It’s edited by Cindi Boiter, the editor-in-chief of Jasper, and Ed Madden, a Frank Martin Review contributor and the literary arts editor for Jasper. Fall Lines is named for the fall line where the Broad River and Saluda River converge to form the Congaree River in downtown Columbia.
The inaugural issue of Fall Lines includes works from 37 contributors. Seven of them, such as Christopher Dickey’s personal essay “Pilgrimage” and Josephine Humphreys’s “Island Time,” were solicited from the authors by the editors. The other 30 contributions came from a pool of 500 general submissions. In addition to those already mentioned, contributors include Jennifer Bartell, Nancy Brock, Jo Angela Edwins, Brandi Perry, Linda Lee Harper, Alexis Stratton, Agnie Zealberg, Hastings Hensel, Robert Peterson, Matthew Stark, Aida Rogers, Bob Blencowe, Melissa Johnson, Laura Rashley, Megan Volpert, Susan Laughter Meyers, Doug Berg, William Claxon, Marlena Impisi, Lisa Hammond, Tara Powell, Matt Mossman, and Ivan Young. While I’m familiar with, and always enjoy, the work of several of the contributors, particularly Butler, Madden, McManus, Meyers, Perry, and Powell, Matthew Stark’s poem “Like a little bell he trembles III” was a standout among the voices that were new to me. With its somber opening lines, “The merchant clears a space with his hands like/ he’s done this before worn this tie before,” the poem introduces a commonplace scenario, a simple business transaction, that becomes a metaphor for the shallow but murky confluence of power, competition, hope, ambition, and resignation that we quietly experience in our daily encounters both with those who do not know us and those who do. The poem maintains a subtle yet imposing tension, without any of the excessive purplish flourishes that burden so much of today’s poetry with predictable sentimentality and melodrama. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
Muddy Ford and Jasper partnered with One Columbia, The University of South Carolina Press, and The Richland County Public Library to publish Fall Lines, and received additional funding and support from Roe Young State Farm Agency, The Jam Room Music Festival, Turstus Theatre, The Nicolodean Theatre, Ed’s Editions, and The Whig, all of which advertised in the back pages. The Richland Library Friends sponsored two prizes, one in prose and one in poetry, for the contributors, awarding a prize of $250 to Waldron for her essay “Dig and Delve” and $250 to Harris for her poem “Accidentals.” The Richland County Library will also make a digital version of Fall Lines available for free through their website. You can also purchase Fall Lines, in print or digital format, through Amazon.
Earlier this year, Muddy Ford published A Sense of the Midlands, a collection of works by writers from central South Carolina, which also includes writings by Bartell, Harper, Johnson, Madden, McManus, Perry, Stratton, Waldron, Young, and myself, as well as notable works by James Barilla and Zach Mueller, among others. Both Fall Lines and A Sense of the Midlands are worth their price for any fan of contemporary literature, and both are a must for readers and writers who are from, have lived in, or who are at all interested in the South Carolina literary scene. You can also check out more work from Butler, Madden, McManus, and Wallach in the first issue of The Frank Martin Review, and Breen, Perry, and Waldron were contributors to the 2014 Columbia Broadside Project.
Darien Cavanaugh received his MFA from the University of South Carolina. His fiction and poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Sou’wester, The Dos Passos Review, Memoir (and), The Minnetonka Review, The Blue Collar Review, Struggle, Pank, The James Dickey Newsletter, Megaera, The Pickwick Press, Gertrude, I-70 Review, Kakalak, The Gap-Toothed Madness, The Blue Earth Review, and The San Pedro River Review, among others. He is the Founding Director of The Columbia Broadside Project, a member of the Board of Directors for Auntie Bellum, a reporter for War is Boring, a writing instructor at the Tri-District Arts Consortium, and a bartender at The Whig, North America’s greatest dive bar.
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