I don’t know if this magazine dropped out of the sky or sprung from the mud, but few have shown what Parthenon West Review has to offer: a fully-formed poetry magazine whose vision is frightening to behold. Coming in at under 200 pages, a weekend is too little time to get through this mammoth. If San Francisco is the city where West meets East, PWR takes advantage of the label, building on its Zen-influenced roots in modernism, imagism and the Beats, approaching the avant-garde without leaving contemporary conventions behind. This excerpt from Rusty Morrison is an exemplar:
What waking requires, the firmly
begins in silence. Cotton blouse, buttered
toast, favored window. Do not look
out from it. Chance
is the blue eye turning
brown in each etymology.
Translations of poets from Vietnam, Korea and China, outsiders and controversial in their homelands, reinforces the art of poetry as cultural nexus. Other highlights: a traditional sonnet about inner-city domestic violence (“Girls Night Sonnet” by Ishle Yi Park) and an examination of living “the myth / of one who has no need to live by myth” (Thomas Cantonella’s “Loneliness”). As a bonus on the translation front, John Felstiner provides a look at the environmental vision of Pablo Neruda and his love of Macchu Picchu, part hagiography, full insight. If translators are traitors, they commit theft of Promethean order: we mere mortals are ever grateful. [Parthenon West Review, 15 Littlefield Terrace, San Francisco, CA 94107. Single issue $12. www.parthenonwestreview.com/] —Christopher Mote