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The Hollins Critic

A leading American literary journal, The Hollins Critic enters its 51st year in 2014 with essays on writers like Ruth Stone by Liz Rosenberg, Donna Tartt by James Shell, Julie Carr by Karen Meadows, Sharyn McCrumb by April Asbury, and Mary Oliver by Lisa Williams. Plus book reviews and poetry by poets new and established, and cover art by Susan Avishai.

The Hollins Critic, published five times a year, presents the first serious surveys of the whole bodies of contemporary writers' work, with complete checklists. In past issues, you'll find essays on such writers as John Engels (by David Huddle), James McCourt (by David Rollow), Jane Hirshfield (by Jeanne Larsen), Edwidge Danticat (by Denise Shaw), Vern Rutsala (by Lewis Turco), Sarah Arvio (by Lisa Williams) and Milton Kessler (by Liz Rosenberg).

The Hollins Critic also offers brief reviews of books you want to know about and poetry by poets both new and established. And every issue has a cover portrait by Susan Avishai M.A. '02.


Lev Grossman James Lees-Milnes Oliver Reynolds Cary Holladay
Lev Grossman
February 2012
James Lees-Milne
April 2012
Oliver Reynolds
June 2012
Cary Holladay
October 2012
October 2014 issue excerpt

"The Best Appalachian Writer You Likely Never Heard Tell Of: Naton Leslie (1957-2013)"
By Casey Clabough

Naton Leslie

I mean, have you? Ever read anything by him? Ever even heard the name? You are among a great host of knowledgeable and well-read upstanding writers and scholars if you have not. Reasons? Why not begin with the research for this particular essay? Perused, did I, Academic Search Complete, Gale, JSTOR, LION, MLA Bibliography, Project Muse and not a single review nor article about Leslie’s work presented itself. There were plenty of his writings listed in diverse periodicals, but nothing about him or any of his books. Nothing about a guy who died in his mid-fifties less than a year ago after producing nine volumes, publishing over three hundred poems, whose uncollected and unpublished output (in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) is just as good (if not better) than the published collected material, who won multiple awards, etc. Seems unbelievable . . . or maybe not. George Garrett used to joke about being buried in the "Tomb of the Unknown Writer." At least insofar as academic library searches are concerned, Naton Leslie really has been interred there. But it also tells us something about the man. To write that many books—one of which garnered the highly competitive "George Garrett Prize in Fiction"—and possess no listed reviews or Gale biography is remarkable in the worst way, but the answer is simple: he didn’t care—didn’t care about printed praise, sending out review copies, hobnobbing, AWPing, or moving up a few inches in our diminutive literary world. He had many incongruous interests (mechanical engineering, archeology, and antiquing to name but three), yet what seems to have mattered most to him were his wife, Susan Leslie, and whatever writing project he’d find before him on a given morning.

The basic internet is kinder than the academic databases in leading one to a number of interviews, brief bios, and posthumous tributes to Leslie. It is there one discovers his literary philosophy: "I remain an unreconstituted switch hitter, as they say in baseball. I believe that the form finds the message, and some things are better suited to one form than another." I have found writers who embrace this approach usually are closer to the self-made mold than those who are specialists in a given genre or form, and this is true of Leslie. As he says of his childhood:

When I was a kid there wasn’t anything even remotely approaching day care. My father worked in a steel mill and my mother worked in a bank as a bank teller. And particularly on Friday nights, she had to work late because that’s when all the paychecks were issued to all the mill workers. My father would have cashed his check and he was out shooting pool somewhere, and so she didn’t know what to do with me. She dropped me off at the local library. She had a deal with the librarians. I had one or two nights a week where all I did was hang out in the library, so I got quite a reading habit. I grew to love books. That dedicated time in a library really made a writer out of me. I'm a huge supporter of public libraries. I think they are integral to the life of a community.

Cover portrait © Susan Avishai 2014

Writer's guidelines

The Hollins Critic will not be reading poetry again until September 15, 2015. Poetry must be submitted online to The Hollins Critic. There are no rules about style or subject. One to five poems may be submitted.

The Critic pays $25.00 per poem, upon publication. All rights revert to the author following publication, but if the poem is reprinted elsewhere, the Critic should be credited.

Besides poetry, the Critic publishes an essay on a contemporary author in each issue, and book reviews as space permits. The Critic does not accept unsolicited essays. Rarely do we accept unsolicited book reviews. When a review is published, the author receives a copy of the issue, and two copies are sent to the book's publisher. Only poetry may be submitted online.

The Critic does not publish fiction.