“I want to tell you about the skunk cabbage” is the first line in “The Book of Spring,” a poem by Sam Taylor. If a writer can make me want to go out and embrace a skunk cabbage, I believe that’s some pretty good writing.
“I want to tell you about the skunk cabbage” is the first line in “The Book of Spring,” a poem by Sam Taylor. If a writer can make me want to go out and embrace a skunk cabbage, I believe that’s some pretty good writing. Published in Meridian, Taylor’s lines run one after the other to form one stanza, a page long. Each line I experienced, I thought, this is it, this is the most powerful line. But no, he saves the best for last. Josh Rathkamp’s “Loneliness in Arizona with a Baseball Game Inside It” is a poem with a surprising turn to it. But I won’t tell you more than that. The poetry selection includes translations of surrealistic poems written by Agi Mishol. In addition to several styles of poetry are a handful of short stories with memorable characters. Kate Milliken’s “Sleight of Hand” is written in first person. Milliken has an uncanny talent for weaving past and present, and then ending with the future, or what the narrator insists and imagines is the future. And the “Lost Classic,” which Meridian publishes in every issue, features William Faulkner and the “People-to-People Partnership.” Several letters written to William Faulkner are reprinted here, one from the President, who wanted to “organize American writers to see what we can do to give a true picture of our country to other people,” and other letters from E.B. White, Katherine Anne Porter, John Dos Passos, Conrad Aiken, Paul Green, Lionel Trilling, Robert Penn Warren, Lewis Mumford, Donald Hall, Allen Tate, Robert Lowell, John Steinbeck, and Shelby Foote. Book reviews cover The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson, An Almost Pure Empty Walking, by Tryfon Tolides, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, and Siste Viator by Sarah Manguso. The perfect bound journal’s smooth cover with its steamy purple image of a floodplain provides a nice wrap.