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October 23, 2000

Quarterly journal honors UCSC professor of literature

By Barbara McKenna

Callaloo journal cover
Poet and UCSC professor of literature Nathaniel Mackey is used to seeing his name in print. A prolific writer, Mackey has authored nearly a dozen books, released an audio CD, and edits the literary journal Hambone. But this fall, Mackey has not only contributed to a newly published work, he is the focus of it.

The spring 2000 issue of the quarterly journal Callaloo was published in honor of Mackey. The volume of some 300 pages features Mackey's poems, poems written by others in his honor, and critical examinations of Mackey's work, notation for his musically oriented pieces, as well as numerous photos of the poet in his trademark skullcap presenting his poetry at readings around the world.

According to Callaloo managing editor Ginger Thornton, the journal occasionally focuses an issue on a single poet or fiction writer. Mackey was suggested by guest editor Paul Naylor and approved by the journal's editorial committee (Callaloo is based in the English Department at the University of Virginia and published by Johns Hopkins University Press).

"This is the first issue to focus on a single author since we did one on the (late) poet Sterling Brown," Thornton said. "People who contributed to this issue were very enthusiastic about the idea, and many even wrote specifically for or about Nate. That's fairly unusual. You don't usually, in the case of a living poet, have contributors who write specifically in honor of that person."

Mackey's latest publication is Whatsaid Serif (1998). He teaches creative writing and African American, contemporary, and experimental literature at UCSC.

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