8824 NE Russell St.
Portland OR 97220

Black Lamb

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Black Lamb was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Published monthly. (more)

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This Week in Literary History

May 1st, 2015

American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson (Self-Reliance, 1841) is born in Boston in 1803.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, b. May 25, 1803, d. 1882

emersonphotoEmerson’s essays set the tone for much of the mid-nineteenth century’s philosophical thinking in America. His pantheistic version of Transcendentalism, which saw nature and God as inseparable, informed religious thought as well, and his hopefulness and belief that humans and humankind could improve reflected a new nation’s aspirations.

Suggested Reading Essays Nature, 1836. The American Scholar, 1837.
Self-Reliance, 1841. The Over-Soul, 1841. The Poet, 1844. Experience, 1844.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

This Month in Black Lamb

May 1st, 2015

The All-Sex Issue

In May’s All-Sex Issue (July will All-Drugs and September All-Rock ‘n’ Roll), Terry Ross examines society’s fixation on all things sexual in Obsession. In Selfish jerk, Elizabeth Fournier details her blind date with the mayor of a California city. John M. Daniel salutes Cole Porter in Clever, classy, & sassy. In Getting lucky, Toby Tompkins remembers an episode from when he was just seventeen. Lorentz Lossius gives us an atmospheric poem about cruising, In Central Park. In Choose your sex… if you can, we reveal a list of more than 50 “official” gender designations. In commemoration of Memorial Day, Vietnam vet Michael McCusker makes a plea for peace in Recruiting tomorrow’s dead. As usual, we offer a selection of insightful book reviews.

And, as always, our regular departments: our Honorary Black Lambs from the world of literature, our delicious lamb recipe, our incomparable bridge columnist Trixie Barkis, and our word puzzle master, Dr. Khan.•

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Sex Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Last Week in Literary History

May 1st, 2015

French novelist Honoré de Balzac (La Comédie humaine) is born in Tours, 1799.

balzacbynadarHonoré de Balzac, b. May 20, 1799, d. 1850

Often called the Dickens of France, Balzac surpassed the English novelist in the breadth of his national portrait, and did so in a thoroughly unsentimental manner. He was truly a bridge between the comic realism of Dickens and the naturalism of Zola. To dip into his monumental 91-volume La Comédie humaine is to be repeatedly astonished at the psychological and sociological insight of so fecund a writer.

Suggested Reading Novels Eugénie Grandet, 1833. Le Père Goriot, 1835. La Femme de trente ans, 1829-1842. La Cousine Bette, 1846. Le Cousin Pons, 1847. Tales Contes drolatiques, 1832-37.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

Last Month in Black Lamb

Volume 13, Number 4 — April 2015

April 1st, 2015

In April’s issue, Lane Browning profiles Laura Bridgman, a handicapped woman who preceded Helen Keller by fifty years but was even more exceptional. In Not the sharpest tool in the box, Elizabeth Fournier recalls one of her many horrible blind dates. Toby Tompkins documents his own contact with Scientology in Unclear. In Out of my mouth, Terry Ross laments the disappearance of genuinely shocking foul language. John M. Daniel reflects on role reversals in Are you comfortable? A selection of perceptive book reviews follows.

And, as always, our regular departments: our Honorary Black Lambs from the world of literature, our delicious lamb recipe, our incomparable bridge columnist Trixie Barkis, and our word puzzle master, Dr. Khan.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Most exceptional of all

Laura Bridgman preceded Hellen Keller

April 1st, 2015

BY LANE BROWNING

Helen Keller came second.

For all her fame, achievements and iconic role modeling, the redoubtable Ms. Keller ascended on the very frail shoulders of her predecessor.

bridgmanYes, she did have a predecessor; in fact, Helen Keller was selected specifically as the “next” deaf/blind/mute poster child when the first one sidelined. Keller took up the mantle and carried it with spectacular virtuosity for eighty years. Yet even Keller and her gifted mentor Anne Sullivan suggested that the girl who “came before” was the truly exceptional one.

Most of us know that Miss Sullivan taught Helen to communicate, but who taught Anne? Laura Bridgman did. Laura Bridgman, who was the first deaf/blind/mute child in the U.S. to learn to communicate, both with finger signing and with writing (quite beautifully and very legibly). Laura Bridgman, who lost four of her senses when she was a toddler, yet went on to study philosophy, history, mathematics, geography, Latin, and religion.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Browning | Link to this Entry

Car Man is not pleased.

Not the sharpest tool in the box

April 1st, 2015

BY ELIZABETH FOURNIER

Rod the mechanic was late for our “let’s just kick down a beer and bullshit” date. Those were his exact words during our brief, introductory phone call.
However, I was still planning to move forward because I had heard from our mutual friend who’d given him my number that he was Erik Estrada cute and loved to talk cars.

womanwarrioronhorse*Our go-between was sort of correct, but Rod had a dirty appearance. He looked clean, but grungy. He’d most likely showered, but he was wearing men’s Red Kap indigo blue work jeans. Now, I know my blue-collar uniforms, and, in fact, I am a fan of coveralls and all things Carhartt. But something about wearing work pants to a first meeting in public looked like he either thought he should dress the part, or maybe he just lived in denim and cargo pants. Or maybe he was just clean, but grungy.

“Chicks just don’t know crap about cars,” he grunts about ten minutes into our fifteen-minute-late linkage, he being the late-comer. Whoa, a double red flag in one sentence! “Chicks” and he’s a potty mouth on the first date. Let’s make it a triple red flag for his blatantly sexist-generalized statement, too. Schmuck!

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Fournier | Link to this Entry

Two months ago in Black Lamb

Volume 13, Number 3 — March 2015

March 1st, 2015

The All-Clothing Issue

In March’s All-Clothing Issue, editor Terry Ross takes a hard look at contemporary clothing styles. In The woman in the black silk dress, John M. Daniel evokes his great-great-grandmother. Toby Tompkins says that at various times in our lives, we are all playing roles and wearing the appropriate Costumes. In Funeral dress, Elizabeth Fournier expounds on the correct attire for studying mortuary science. Our book reviewers weigh in on volumes having to do with apparel.

And, as always, our regular departments: our Honorary Black Lambs from the world of literature, our delicious lamb recipe, our incomparable bridge columnist Trixie Barkis, and our word puzzle master, Dr. Khan.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Clothing Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

The woman in the black silk dress

My great-great-grandmother

March 1st, 2015

BY JOHN M. DANIEL

In the home in Dallas where I grew up, there hung on the dining room wall a steel engraving, a head-and-shoulders portrait of a woman wearing a plain black dress. I wondered why she should dominate the dining room, but I accepted her as part of my life and her portrait as an heirloom that had to be honored. She was, I knew, some kind of ancestor. She had a sober expression on her face, and she struck me as a sourpuss. My mother disagreed. She was a kind woman, my mother told me, and her face was beautiful. Serene. Her name was Hannah Neil. She lived from 1794 to 1868. She was my great-great-grandmother.

hannahneilHannah Neil’s portrait hung prominently in my mother’s house because my mother’s name was also Hannah Neil, those being her first and middle names until she was married. Her mother’s (my grandmother’s) name was Hannah Neil also. My sister was Hannah Neil Daniel until she was married. I also have a first cousin and a granddaughter named Hannah; and I had an uncle, a brother, and a first cousin named Neil, and Neil is my son’s, and his son’s, middle name. The names Hannah and Neil hang in abundance on my family tree. They collectively honor a woman in a plain black dress, who was by all accounts a saint.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Clothing Issue, Daniel | Link to this Entry

February 2014 in Black Lamb

Volume 13, Number 2 — February 2015

February 1st, 2015

In February's issue we begin with Democracy modern-style, an essay by Terry Ross in which he notes the disappearance of a once-beloved institution. In Big fish, Elizabeth Fournier hymns the joys of living in the country or a small town. John Daniel remembers his career in the entertainment industry in Selling the song. In To Kurdish Turkey, Lorentz Lossius continues his travel diary. Toby Tompkins writes of a dream in Dead low water. In State of Italy, part 5, Dan Peterson examines some of the institutions of his adopted country. Brad Bigelow reviews a book about Leo Stein, art collector and brother of Gertrude. And M.A. Orthofer looks at the neglected East German author Irmtraud Morgner.

We welcome two new members into our gallery of Honorary Black Lambs: influential playwright Bertolt Brecht and Canadian novelist Morley Callaghan, who once beat up Hemingway in a boxing match. Bridge columnist Trixie Barkis dreams up some new dilemmas to get your teeth into, we offer a delicious lamb recipe for Lancashire Hot Pot, advice columnist Millicent Marshall holds forth again, and Professor Kahn once more challenges us with a word puzzle. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Big fish

The joys of country and small-town life

February 1st, 2015

BY ELIZABETH FOURNIER

Living and working in the country offers fantastic benefits. My funeral parlour is situated on 30 country acres, complete with deer statuary and antique farming equipment. The funeral home building is a remodeled goat barn surrounded by lush groves of trees where I hold outdoor funerals; couples have been married in the funeral home itself.

On beautiful sunny days I tool down the country lane in front of the funeral home. I keep my windows down and the music up loud. Sometimes I get stuck behind a combine or a rickety school bus because the parlour is on scenically busy Highway 224 and snakes along the beautiful Clackamas River. Often a car slows in front of me and I can’t see what is going on because of a long line of cars or because the sun is in my eyes. I go slowly around the turns and see that a large piece of machinery is ahead along the way. This always happens when I have to get back quickly because a family is due to meet me at the funeral home. Or I have to hurry back to type out a death certificate and get it into the mailbox before the little postal Jeep comes by. Country life runs on a clock that moves to the rhythms of random farm equipment on the road.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Fournier | Link to this Entry

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