In my English class, I used this issue of this journal when I started our poetry section; I used it to show students the wide variety of poetry that’s out there. They think of poetry in traditional terms: rhyme, meter, regular looking stanzas. This issue shows what is possible in the poetry world.
While my students were most interested Kaia Sand’s poem that looks like a flow chart, I was drawn in by the many poems with evocative details from daily life. Often, it’s a daily life of a not-long-ago past, but a past that feels lost all the same. David Trinidad’s “Classic Layer Cakes” is full of these details: Colorforms sets, Avon lipstick samples, and any number of references to popular culture. Many poets in this volume cover similar ground, in terms of content. Poets such as Arielle Greenberg and Martha Silano skillfully mine material from childhood. Other poets, like Jeannine Hall Gailey, use material from myths or folktales.
This volume includes poets I’d read before, like Denise Duhamel and Jean Valentine, as well as many poets I’d never heard of, but hope to discover more fully in the future. Almost all of the poems weigh in at a page or less, but the presence of several longer poems suggests that the editors are not opposed to longer work.
The beautiful cover art by Julie Heffernan cues the reader to the delights contained within the covers. I’ve picked up this journal many times in the past two weeks, and it never leaves me uninspired.