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Fine Madness – 2005

I realize that, as far as profits go, lit mags are like lemonade stands among the blue chips of the publishing industry, but I’m no better than the next guy: I don’t think twice about a 60-page booklet with a seven-dollar price tag.

I realize that, as far as profits go, lit mags are like lemonade stands among the blue chips of the publishing industry, but I’m no better than the next guy: I don’t think twice about a 60-page booklet with a seven-dollar price tag. Fine Madness, however, may have changed my mind. These sixty pages of poetry are by no means a breeze to navigate. They are packed with long, often complex poems that deserve separate readings. There are translations from Swedish, Lithuanian and Russian poets, the last of whom was said to have passed his writings on by word of mouth for fear of Stalin. There’s a moment in Alice Derry’s “Beech” that also captures tyranny, employing a simple word game to bring out the chill in the forests of Buchenwald, “not the high ee and steady chug of ch, / but how the hollow of pure ooo, / reaching into the throat for the breathy German ch, / is wind in the highest branches.” On a lighter “note,” Estill Pollock’s “Preludes for Prepared Piano” are a pastiche of literary history with a strong aleatoric dose inspired by the John Cage contraption. And the title of Tina Kelley’s musing, “On the Collection of 70 Pairs of Shoes Filled with Butter Found by Hunters in Jaemtland, Sweden, on October 5, 2003,” actually belies its overall whimsicality. Fine Madness is proof positive that inventive poetry can still elicit a response from anyone. A worthy investment, after all. 

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