After twenty-seven years, Jennifer Barber has left her position as Editor-in-Chief of Salamander. In the Summer 2019 issue, readers can find a portfolio, edited by Fred Marchant, dedicated to Barber’s work with Salamander over the years.
Location is a strong theme among these poems. Martha Collins writes of Santa Fe in “Passing,” flashes of scene and memory flitting by as she walks us through the streets; Valerie Duff sits at the titular “Fry’s Spring Filling Station” in Charlottesville, VA and thinks of the passage of time; Danielle Legros Georges lands in Cap-Haitien, Haiti in “Green Offering”; Yusef Komunyakaa quietly reflects on the train stop at Liberty Airport in Newark, NJ; and Gail Mazur considers hiking Ice Glen trails in Massachusetts, thoughts of romanticism and friendship drawing her there. If you’re unable to get out and travel this summer, take a mini literary vacation through this selection of Salamander.
Between those stops on the map are other great poems including “Selected Haiku for Jenny” by Maxine Hong Kingston, a set of three-lined stanzas that seem almost like a writing exercise to urge her to write, as it begins “There are days of no poems. / Not even 17 sounds will come.” And then later “Haiku master: ‘No need / for 17 syllables. [ . . . ] / Be free.” In “Recovery,” Jeffrey Harrison writes of a familiar feeling for me: the fear of breaking a favorite coffee cup. In one moment, he thinks he’s lost it, and in the next it’s still there, “its yellow somehow brighter,” better now that he’s felt its loss.
There are plenty more poems to check out in this portfolio, a fitting good-bye for Jennifer Barber and her dedicated work throughout the years.
Review by Katy Haas