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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
February 2014 issue excerpt

"Poetry saves lives! The Art of Ruth Stone"
By Liz Rosenberg

Ruth Stone

We taught together in "darkest Binghamton," as she liked to call it. My most enduring memory of the poet Ruth Stone, colleague and friend, is of her in her late eighties, wrapped in numberless layers of Ames' clothes and quilted boots, struggling through blowing snow to scatter birdseed on the frozen ground.

"Why in God’s name are we doing this now?" I groaned, trudging behind.

"Because the birds are hungry now," she answered matter-of-factly.

No wonder students adored her, sprang to her side like motherless kittens. But now when I read and re-read her poems, many of them collected under one capacious roof in What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems, I encounter the Ruth Stone who was watching us all the time through those wickedly bright eyes, under her pouf of red pompadour bangs—the writer who was not only mother but lover; the eternally heartbroken grieving widow; bawdy and merry; a stinging revolutionary hornet dangerous as Socrates; the child of a drummer father with music running through her veins. In her 2002 National Book Award acceptance speech she compared her incomparable poetry to “a stream that went along beside me, you know, my life went along here, and I got married and had three kids and did all the things you have to do, and all along the time this stream was going along. And I really didn’t know what it was saying. It just talked to me, and I wrote it down."

Stone's poetry does sound as natural and heedless as a rushing stream. But it is artfully heedless, and no one in the world has ever sounded like her—unless perhaps one considers the love poems of the Russian poet, Anna Ahkmatova, another brilliant woman poet, another contradiction. One of Stalin's henchmen famously scorned Ahkmatova as being "half-nun, half whore, or rather both whore and nun, fornication and prayer being intermingled in her world." I feel sure that Ruth Stone would have taken that as high praise: "fornication and prayer being intermingled in her world." Both poets suffered terrible loss. Both spoke for the common woman, the lowly, the persecuted and overlooked. Both wrote with passion about the sufferings and ecstasies of love. Both were dismissed as "mere" women poets, and came to their literary success with a rare sense of perspective.

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.