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Magazine Review :: Arc Poetry Magazine “How Poems Work”

Arc Poetry Issue 100 Spring 2023 cover image

Each issue of Arc Poetry Magazine includes “How Poems Work,” which offers readers a “case-study appreciation” of a single poem. The poem is reprinted in the issue along with the analysis, focusing on style, subject matter, influences, context, and the use of poetic elements. The spring 2023 issue featured Bardia Sinaee’s appreciation for “Epiphany” by Sara Venart. The poem opens with a series of visualized situations from everyday life, starting with the prompt “Here I am…” and coursing over a selection of events and feelings and questioning ‘what ifs.’ The closing line was a dagger to my heart in the most loving way and left me sobbing. “That’s a good poem,” I could have been satisfied to say, but then I read Sinaee’s commentary, which helped make connections I would not have, and offered a more authoritative assessment in ways I might not have felt confident making, but which made complete sense, such as, “This poem addresses us urgently and intimately.” While I felt that in reading the poem, seeing it said helped ground my feeling in shared reason. It helped me make sense, not of the poem, but of the effect the words had on me. It offered me a conversation partner in an otherwise solitary experience. It’s a wonderful feature for those of us who enjoy education but lack access to teachers—something to look forward to in each issue.

Reviewer bio: Denise Hill is Editor of NewPages.com and reviews books she chooses based on her own personal interests.

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