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Fence – Fall/Winter 2003-2004

For a magazine justly famous for pioneering the way for experimental verse, Fence displays a surprisingly delicate balance of avant-garde and traditional work, with poets ranging from Mary Ruefle to Nancy Kuhl to Ray DiPalma. So, those of you who shun the hip pyrotechnics of the cutting edge, do not be scared away; see as evidence these opening lines from the wonderful “Mr. Mann Finds a Photograph of Daedalus”: “He had always believed the old stories. / Wolves in the forest. Children eating / candy houses. The savage etiquette / of queens . . . ”

For a magazine justly famous for pioneering the way for experimental verse, Fence displays a surprisingly delicate balance of avant-garde and traditional work, with poets ranging from Mary Ruefle to Nancy Kuhl to Ray DiPalma. So, those of you who shun the hip pyrotechnics of the cutting edge, do not be scared away; see as evidence these opening lines from the wonderful “Mr. Mann Finds a Photograph of Daedalus”: “He had always believed the old stories. / Wolves in the forest. Children eating / candy houses. The savage etiquette / of queens…” This must surely be declared a fine poem no matter what your poetic preferences. The fiction chosen also showcases a range of diverse voices, including the whimsical and melancholy “Nine Attempts at a Life” by Danielle Dutton. This issue also includes the interesting “Cubism, the Blues, Visions: A Conversation” between Alice Notley and Edmund Berrigan. Also featured is a rambling yet entertaining review by Rodney Phillips of all the poetry books published in one year. The essay made me wince at times for the victims (“. . . BOA Editions, which – except for Michael Teig’s first book, Big Back Yard – wins the most boring award . . . ” Ouch!), yet props must be given for tackling a task that seems Herculean. Phillips cleverly highlights as many good books as possible in top-ten-style with list names like “Best Books by Emerging Writers” and “Most Beautiful Books” – unconventional but useful.

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