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Rattle – Winter 2009

This issue features more than four dozen poems in a general section, the work of Rattle Poetry Prize Winner Lynne Knight and ten honorable mention recipients, the work of 30 poets in a special “Tribute to the Sonnet,” and lengthy interviews by editor Alan Fox with Alice Fulton and Molly Peacock (Fulton and Peacock in the same issue! Too good to be true!). It’s hard not to be curious about nearly two-hundred pages of poems that begin, as this issue does, with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s oh-so-American-current-preoccupation:

This issue features more than four dozen poems in a general section, the work of Rattle Poetry Prize Winner Lynne Knight and ten honorable mention recipients, the work of 30 poets in a special “Tribute to the Sonnet,” and lengthy interviews by editor Alan Fox with Alice Fulton and Molly Peacock (Fulton and Peacock in the same issue! Too good to be true!). It’s hard not to be curious about nearly two-hundred pages of poems that begin, as this issue does, with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s oh-so-American-current-preoccupation:

I can now confirm that I am not just fatter
than everyone I work with, but I’m also fatter
than all their spouses. Even the heavily bearded
bear in accounting has a little otter-like boyfriend.

Many of this issue’s poems are much like this one by Aptowicz, sarcastic, edgy, and conversational, sometimes surprisingly self-revelatory and/or critical. There are, as well, a few more sparse and lyrical entries, including a haiku by Claire W. Donzelli:

Gas leak in the air
Water chilled as a river
Grace is unaware

One particularly unusual contribution is Paul Siegell’s concrete poem “06.25.00.PHiSH-ALLETEL PAVILION, NC,” with its shapely “Left side: mystified stoners “Oh G!d” come on. I confess that I am not sure what this poem signifies, but somehow the mere making of it impressed me.

I liked very much an essay by T.S. Davis, “The Recrudescence of the Muse: One Poet’s Journey,” about his rediscovery of the power and pleasure of formal verse. And his contributor’s note, like the others, is one of the best reasons to read Rattle. These are juicy little quotations from the writers, often quite personal, which are as (and sometimes more) intriguing than the work itself.

Fox is a great interviewer and his questions to Fulton and Peacock stimulate thoughtful, and sometimes highly amusing, responses. Asked why she took a break from poetry early on in her career Peacock replies:

I went to a state university…and I was the person responsible, the student escort, for various poets who were visiting the campus, invited by my teacher, Milton Kessler. So I met Anne Sexton and then she committed suicide; and then I met John Berryman and then he committed suicide; and then I met Robert Lowell and he was institutionalized. Then I met John Logan, who’s a poet whose name you wouldn’t recognize, but he was a severe alcoholic.

Peacock, as always, is as insightful and inspiring as she is entertaining. When asked what response she hopes for from readers, she says:

“I want them to say Yes, I’ve felt that, too. Yes, I knew that somewhere inside me but I never would’ve put it that way, and that’s a revelation to me.” Precisely! Rattle…on.
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