Marshall Edward Conway
The Greatest Threat: The Black Panther Party and COINTELPRO (iAMWE)
Conway, a prominent member of the local Black Panthers, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a policeman four decades ago. Conway steadfastly maintains his innocence, claims he’s the victim of a covert FBI counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO), and considers himself a political prisoner. Although such claims may seem outlandish to some, evidence has slowly mounted over the years that Conway (and other Panthers) may have a legitimate case. Here, he offers a damning critique of FBI actions against various civil rights leaders and organizations, citing internal FBI memos and reports to make his case. There aren’t any new bombshells here, but it’s chilling to read that, in various cases, government agents actually stoked the violence it attributed to groups such as the Panthers. It raises serious questions about the targeting of activists like Conway, and it’s troubling that, after 40 years, such doubts persist.
Linda Fritz (editor)
The Delmarva Review, Volume 3 (Eastern Shore Writers’ Association)
Although it publishes its share of regional writers, this lively, well-designed literary journal reaches beyond the Delmarva Peninsula for its poetry and prose. It’s a wise approach that broadens its pool of talent and the scope of its content. This issue features contributors from Montana, Tennessee, Colorado, Wyoming, the Philippines, and Quebec, alongside local standouts such as Pulitzer Prize nominee Sue Ellen Thompson and University of Maryland Professor Emeritus Rod Jellema. Not surprisingly, the writing brims with references to ebb tides, loblollies, hunting season, cattails, skipjacks, and various Bay landmarks. Of the poems, Thompson’s “A Burst Pipe in Maryland” is a gem of economy and emotion, as she transforms a plumbing calamity into a multifaceted examination of personal grief—in just two short verses. But my two favorite selections explore subjects that have little or nothing to do with Delmarva. Gwen Florio’s “On Fire” is a peculiar and tender piece about firefighters in the wilds of Montana, and Sunil Freeman’s “My Danny Gatton Story” recounts the writer’s admiration for a beloved and obscure guitarist, who eventually took his own life. Such pleasant surprises make The Delmarva Review a satisfying read.
Siri Engberg (editor/curator)
From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America (Walker Art Center)
Once in a great while, a photographer’s work captures an elusive essence of American life—be it in Mississippi, Minnesota, or Maryland—during a particular period. I’m thinking of Robert Frank in the 1950s (The Americans), William Eggleston in the 1970s (William Eggleston’s Guide), and, now, Alec Soth. The title of this book alludes to the Frank and Eggleston masterworks for good reason—it likewise finds magic in the mundane and helps us see things we’re accustomed to giving only glancing attention. With Soth as our guide, the sense of recognition is profound.