My recent reading just happens to have included a great deal of poetry by women whose work in the first half of the last century is now largely forgotten or ignored, so I was surprised, pleased, and curious to discover Mina Loy’s name in a poem by Priscilla Atkins in this issue’s TOC. I had to start there, though I was tempted to begin with a poem by Michael Andrews, “Lykambes Has Promised Neobulé,” because it has the most unusual title in the issue; or Terry W. Thompson’s “Spencer Rex: The Oedipus Myth in Henry James’s ‘The Jolly Corner,’” because I am fond of academic essays, and as editor Chantel Acevedo notes in her Comment, few journals publish them.
The Atkins poem, “Shards and Ellipses for Mina Loy (1882-1966),” is terrific. She captures the essence of Loy in all her actress-cum-poet visual splendor and recreates the ethos of the era faithfully with just the right detail. I did not know Atkins’s work prior to happening on this poem, but I certainly hope to find her in another TOC again soon.
I also liked very well a poem by Patricia Waters, also, coincidentally, an homage: “For Cy Twombly: Blooming.” Here is an excerpt:
Description, postal card sentiments,
the lurid photograph sent to the envious neighbor,
the cousin for whom travel is a fool’s errand.
What is the peony without its scent?
I know no more now, this spring,
than I did when I loved without thought,
the scent emanant from the peony’s heart
Poems in this issue that tread dangerous territory for their potential to be trite or sentimental, happily are not and succeed, including Theodore Worozbyt’s “Like Something Almost Being Said” (“Sorrow is the province of time / unspent, the wish to have been / everywhere just before grief arrived.”); and Gladys Justin Carr’s “May Frost.” The unexpected near rhyme, which begins in the title and concludes the poem ("green thought"), six brief two-and-three-word lines later caught me off guard and satisfied me enormously.
Satisfying, too, are Bob Kunzinger’s essay, “The Canon,” in which he recounts visits to Russia on Victory Day; and a solid short story by Sharon Mauldin Reynolds, “Walking Air,” the portrait of a young girl with an Alice Munro-ish quality to it.
Reviews of books by academic and major presses round out the issue. I appreciated reviewer Spencer Dew’s frank opinions as he outlines the flaws he encountered in a biography of wrestler Gorgeous George. I did not, in the end, want to read the book reviewed, but I’d read more of Dew any day.