diode poetry journal – Winter 2008
Volume 1 Number 2
Diode, partially supported by Virginia Commonwealth University at Qatar, is a journal of American experimental and electric poetry transported to a foreign land and concerned with the inescapability of our American identities today: “Even eight thousand miles from the United States, the constant hammering of the American media machine reaches us. Our connections—wireless, satellite, cable—crackle with a seemingly endless loop of fear and consumption.” Diode‘s theoretical purpose is to break through all of this noise and communicate with the poem. Along with these serious pretensions, Diode amazes with its array of ambitious rhythmic poems that play like a firecracker laden sound and light show of invention and tactical and formal daring that does not let up until the final poem.
The Diode Poetry Journal design looks like a circle of rings mapping out the planets in some distant galaxy. When the editors of Diode Poetry Journal describe their journal as “electropositive,” it does not take long to discover what they mean. The poems are frenetic and transmit individual voices along with powerful, colorful light-filled images. They also convey a strong sense of narrative direction.
In “Getting Over the Fear of Form” by Sheila Black, the narrator’s voice in this poem, the voice of a poet, faces and expresses their fear of the rigors of form and how they can hold onto their identity in spite of its usage: “It was not my name I wanted. / It was the outside, the undivided light [. . .] It was the crossing I could not manage. / The notion of what would be left.”
These poems are direct yet leave one with a feeling of mystery at what will happen next. In “Monsoon Season” by Tarfia Faizullah, a powerful narrative, a prayer of sorts, is being told: “She / paints her nails pomegranate-red // until a hummingbird hover close, / suspended like an elegy over her / breathless hand.”
Diode Poetry Journal Volume 1 Number 2, Winter 2008 reviewed by Micah Zevin