In a small building on N. Washington St. on the Gettysburg College Campus, Editor Mark Drew and his staff quietly and diligently work to select content for the college’s quarterly literary magazine The Gettysburg Review.
The Review, which was founded in 1988 and recognized as one of the country’s premier literary journals, publishes poetry, essays, fiction, and paintings for an international audience of readers.
In this episode Drew discusses the challenge of reading through the “slush pile” of over 6,000 submitted manuscripts every year, the dedication of the magazine to nurturing new writers, and the many awards that have been won by the authors who make it in.
On this page we’ve also published Drew’s poem, “My Father as Houdini,” that 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
Pinioned and fluttering,
I breathe gasoline and antifreeze.
I leak blood. My teeth are lost
among the cubes of safety glass
spangling the dash. A crowd gathers.
Where are my assistants? Slender vapor wisps
from the buckled hood, accumulates
about the car and Poof!
2. The Death Trick
I’m not supposed to die. No one is.
Everyone wants me to come back;
you want me to come back.
I’m not promising anything,
but think of my body full of preservatives,
think of the shelf life of the soul.
With the right audience, anything is possible
if you just know the trick.
Watch me pull these words from your mouth
like a knotted skein of parti-colored hankies
my mother, your mother, and her mother weep into
at my death.
my ankles bound and slung from a hook,
I dangle over you like a nightmare and writhe.
Encased in a coffin of water and glass, I squirm,
mouthing secrets so you won’t turn away.
I’m a ghost shackled in your mouth,
I’m a face hung in a hallway.
I insinuate myself into you.
I’ve always known how to keep an audience.
4. The Show Must Go On
Kid, we live
from deception to deception.
You keep me on stage.
My final trick?
Look at me and I’ll live forever;
turn away and we’ll both disappear.
Mark Drew received his MFA from the University of Alabama, where he edited the Black Warrior Review from 1993-95. Currently, he works as the assistant editor of the Gettysburg Review. This was his first publication.
“My Father as Houdini” appears in The Gettysburg Review’s Summer 1995 issue.