Review by: Mark Jarman, author of Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems - July 29, 2011
Macon, Georgia, birthplace of the kazoo, home of Mercer University, site of the Confederate arsenal in the Civil War, yet spared by Sherman in his march to the sea, is a perfect site for cultural flourishing. Otis Redding, Little Richard, and the Allman Brothers, along with a host of other rock and blues musicians, originated there. Put beside these icons the likes of poets David Bottoms, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Judson Mitcham, Seaborn Jones, Anya Silver, and Miller Williams, and almost a dozen others and you have another cultural flourishing of which the city can be proud. There is a wonderful American something-for-everyone variety among the musicians and poets associated with Macon, but their common denominator is dedication to their art. As its editor Kevin Cantwell amply shows in this anthology of poets writing in Macon, contemporary American literature owes a lot to the city that calls itself “the Heart of Georgia.”
Review by: David Kirby, author of Talking About Movies With Jesus and Little Richard: The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll - July 29, 2011
Is it any wonder that the Macon which produced the songs of Otis Redding, Little Richard, and the Allman Brothers is also the birthplace of some of the best poetry in recent years? This sublime anthology includes work from such poets as Stanley Kunitz (really!) all the way to the late Reginald Shepherd, with living writers like Judson Mitcham, Kelly Whiddon, and the inimitable Seaborn Jones taking up most of its pages. The selections are generous-¬most of the poets are represented by a dozen poems or more ¬and the scholarship creates a valuable context for this astonishing flowering. Every anthology needs an organizing principle, but the best ones are secretly called Just Plain Fabulous Poems, Folks, and this is one of the best.
Review by: Ralph Tejeda Wilson, author of A Black Bridge - July 29, 2011
This anthology is a revelation and a treasure. Cantwell's canny selection of poems displays a diversity of authentic voices which transcends notions of race, gender, and mere regionalism. These works, in fact, are among the best of contemporary American poetry. As a writer and teacher, I applaud this volume for the pleasures it affords and the opportunities it provides.
Review by: Marty L. Williams, Assoc. Prof. of English, Valdosta State University - July 29, 2011
Writing on Napkins in the Sunshine Club is a terrific anthology of poems written by poets touched by Macon, a cotton town and true crossroads, and so a place where poetry flourishes as this collection certainly proves. The strength of this book is that Kevin Cantwell, Macon native and accomplished poet and editor, doesn't select toward a preconceived regional voice, but rather showcases a diverse blend of intimacies from poets anchored to Macon by birth or by some extended, chance interlude, as well as by poets who, passing through, bear away a something intangible from the slow Ocmulgee on the way to other exotic places, usually midway between faith and doubt.
Writing on Napkins in the Sunshine Club features outstanding poems from Stanley Kunitz, Miller Williams, and Georgia mainstays Adrienne Bond, David Bottoms, Judson Mitchum, and Judith Ortiz Cofer, and also gathers wonderful gems from under-appreciated yet important poets such as Seaborn Jones and Steven Bluestone, as well as forceful, exploratory work from poets who left Macon long ago, especially Reginald Shepherd, Amanda Pecor, and Marjorie Becker. Two terrific essays, Kevin's introduction and David Bottoms' consideration of Macon as a defining locus for his own poetry, lucidly explore the importance of place in poetry and poetry in contemporary Macon.