If I were to dare make a blanket statement about New Jersey poets, I’d say they’re a tough, witty lot with good stories to tell. There is little frippery in this journal’s pages.
If I were to dare make a blanket statement about New Jersey poets, I’d say they’re a tough, witty lot with good stories to tell. There is little frippery in this journal’s pages. What we get is more like Stanley Marcus’s “My White Teeth,” a poem on aging and alienation, which includes: “I would like to extract / [my false teeth] from my face one morning on the / bus / I take from Upper Montclair to the city / so all the lawyers could see them and puke.” Like Marcus, many of the poets here display a certain subversive maturity which I found thoroughly enjoyable. “Geography Lesson at the Middle School Planetarium,” by John Bargowski, recalls a field trip in which a girl touches his thigh in a darkened planetarium as their teacher, a nun, gives a lesson. A much different lesson was learned by Edwin Romond in “What I Would Say to My Eighth Grade Classmates,” an anti-eulogy for a nun who ran her classroom with terror and humiliation: “she [. . .] dug her nails / into my face and twisted them like razor / pliers when I didn’t have my homework / the morning after my father’s funeral.” The issue left me eagerly awaiting the completion of Michael Burke’s work-in-progress, “Visitors.” This excellent piece recalls parties in the author’s childhood home, attended by William Carlos Williams and Ralph Ellison. [Journal of NJ Poets]