Jackson and The Fugitive (1922-1925)
The Fugitive was a poetry magazine published in Nashville, Tennessee from April 1922 to December 1925, a total of nineteen issues. Its editors and several frequent contributors became known as "the Fugitives": Donald Davidson, James Marshall Frank, Sidney Mttron Hirsch, Stanley Johnson, John Crowe Ransom, Alec B. Stevenson, Allen Tate, Walter Clyde Curry, Merrill Moore, William Yandell Elliot, William Frierson, Jesse Wills, Ridley Wills, Robert Penn Warren, Laura Riding (Gottchalk) and Alfred Starr.
John M. Bradbury
It seems evident now that the Fugitives, despite, their Southern accent, have reflected to a considerable degree the intellectual climate of the broader society in which they matured. In the United States, the Vanderbilt nucleus supplied the primary impetus to a modern religio-aesthetic reaction against that progressive liberalism which had dominated the social and political philosophy of or country since Jefferson's day. The aesthetic manifesto carried in the first issue of The Fugitive was by no means the first of its kind, and, but for the talents developed by its authors and the cohesiveness of the group, it might have become merely another in a series of protests against faith inscientific and industrial progress. (p. 256)
from John M. Bradbury, The Fugitives: A Critical Account (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1958).
Although the magazine carried a few critical editorials, signed by individual members of the staff, the "Fugitives," because they never quite cared to define what they fled from, issued no manifestoes whatever. Their only program at any time was to offer to a small but widely scattered public the best of their own verses and a very few others that had to be at least good. They disagreed among themselves on the literary principles which they persistently argued. In their public aspect they must have been a little mysterious, at least locally, becase they didn't have a "cause." So far as they could all see, all they had in common was a certain belief in their poetry and a desire to write more of it. Negatively they avoided public harangues, self-advertising, and social optimism-heresies that seemed to them to have been dropped by the tide of the so-called Reconstruction into the society where they lived. (p. iv-v)
from "Forward," Fugitives: An Anthology of Verse (NY: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1928).
The December issue of The Fugitive announces the award of its poetry prize for 1924, given in token of distinguished contributions to the magazine during the past year. The winners are as follows:
The Nashville prize of $100 goes to Laura Riding Gottchalk of Louisville, Ky. The Ward-Belmont prize of $50, given by Ward-Belmont College of Nashville, goes to Olive Tilford Dargan of Almond, N.C. The Presbyterian Bookstore prize of $25, given by the Presbyterian Bookstore of Nashville, goes to Louis Gilmore of New Orleans.
Laura Riding Gottchalk, who, the editors declare is "the discovery of the year," and who is "coming forward as a new and important figure in American poetry," was born in New York City and has spent a large part of her life in the East. She attended Cornell University, where she held three scholarships and engaged in literary activities. After a brief period of study at the University of Illinois, she gave up her academic career to devote her energies entirely to literature, and later came to Louisville, where her husband, Louis Gottchalk, is assistant professor of history at the University of Louisville. She has contributed to a number of magazines, among them Poetry, The Lyric West, Contemporary Verse, Poet-Lore, The Fugitive, and the Sewanee Review. Her work has received the commendation of such excellent critics as Robert Graves, the English poet, and William Stanley Braithwaite, who in the Boston Transcript lists some of her work as among the notable poems of the past year. (pp. 37-38)
from The Fugitive: Clippings and Comment, collected by Merrill Moore (Boston, MA, 1939). (Clipping from a Nashville paper, December 1924).
John Crowe Ransom
Undoubtedly we were rather absurd in the way we received Laura in Nashville--prim, formidable, and stiff. What she came for was human companionship of the most bare-soul description; she had neither birth, subsistence, place, reputation nor friends, and was a very poor little woman indeed. She got only a rather formal welcome, though she is mistaken in assuming that we burned with suppressed libidinous desires.... We quite missed the point. She on her side did not realize that we had already established our respective personal relationships on satisfactory and rather final bases, and that we were open to literary relationships but not to personal. I realize there is a sort of mean-ness in such an admission. (p. 150)
from Selected Letters of John Crowe Ransom, Thomas Daniel Young and George Core, eds. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State U P, 1985).
Return to Laura (Riding) Jackson