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Dark Horse – Winter 2007/2008

Dark Horse: the Scottish-American Poetry Magazine is simple enough to look at: a plain white cover with a mirrored horse icon in the lower right corner, and content items listed plainly. However, it does pack a punch into its ninety-five pages. There is poetry, but it mostly focuses on four poets.

Dark Horse: the Scottish-American Poetry Magazine is simple enough to look at: a plain white cover with a mirrored horse icon in the lower right corner, and content items listed plainly. However, it does pack a punch into its ninety-five pages. There is poetry, but it mostly focuses on four poets.

The poems are terrific, like the brilliant poem by the late Sarah Hannah: “Common Creeping Thyme (Serpillum a serpendo)”: “If only it were just a lousy herb / that issued feeble tendrils slowly now and then / Relinquishing some tiny blooms, its basest // Essence known to all (good on chicken)” Also good is Hannah’s feverishly sober poem for her late mother: “Five Years Passed Exactly, but Who’s Counting?” She’s elegant yet accessible. Three poems by Jack Gilbert shine herein: “Piecing of the Life,” “Living Hungry After,” and “The Secret.” His words have music; he expresses mostly men’s sentiments plainly enough for all to understand. Then, a rollicking poem by Andrew Hudgins, “Why I love Ruby,” joyously celebrates womankind: “When Mom dated lawyers / they showed me their briefs, / and the preacher she dated / held secret beliefs.”

Jack Gilbert, Sarah Hannah, Norman MacCaig, and Robert Garioch are all poet-subjects of major articles, with thoughtful critiques, interesting biographical details and notes about their development. Gilbert is described as devoted to poetry and the love of his life. Sarah Hannah, a serious scholar as well as poet, took her own life in 2007, but should be remembered for her poetry, not her suicide, Eva Salzman relates. Norman MacCaig was “an institution in Scotland,” and “one of the most sought-after readers” and is given a multi-faceted portrait. The beauty of Robert Garioch’s Gaelich poetry is laid out by Sean Haldane, with keen discussion.

At under ten dollars an issue for a subscription, this magazine is a steal.
[www.star.ac.uk/darkhorse.html]

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