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Smartish Pace – 2005

Eric Pankey and Jim Daniels, John Kinsella and Denise Duhamel — there’s no formula here, no template — the breadth of poems in Smartish Pace is one of its key attractions. Forty-two poets as different from each other as forty-two poets can be. There is a pleasing balance here, too, of stars (Bob Hicock and Lola Haskins, not to mention Rimbaud, Italian poet Giovanii Pascoli, and Polish poet Jerzy Kronhold, in addition to the aforementioned) and newcomers. I am sure I would have found Darren Jackson’s poem, “Pain Rents a Room Off Bourbon Street,” one of his first to be published, powerful had I read it last week or last year, but from here forward, of course, it becomes an entirely new experience:

Eric Pankey and Jim Daniels, John Kinsella and Denise Duhamel — there’s no formula here, no template — the breadth of poems in Smartish Pace is one of its key attractions. Forty-two poets as different from each other as forty-two poets can be. There is a pleasing balance here, too, of stars (Bob Hicock and Lola Haskins, not to mention Rimbaud, Italian poet Giovanii Pascoli, and Polish poet Jerzy Kronhold, in addition to the aforementioned) and newcomers. I am sure I would have found Darren Jackson’s poem, “Pain Rents a Room Off Bourbon Street,” one of his first to be published, powerful had I read it last week or last year, but from here forward, of course, it becomes an entirely new experience:

Faint odor like an unemptied mouse trap.
It’s not the trash
crawling through the den.                     

The final third of the journal is devoted to the 2005 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize winners and finalists whose work is also wildly different from each other’s. It is gratifying to find the finalists published along with the winners and I wish more journals would follow suit. In “Ebay Sonnets,” Duhamel (who seems more prolific than ever these days) assures us: “A poem’s worth can triple in days.” This issue of Smartish Pace, however, is priceless.
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