Just as the mother of a large family on a tight budget attempts Christmas shopping by making her dollars work magic, so Iodine Poetry Journal is economic with its pages; by spending space only on poems that will satisfy in numerous ways, the poetry journal fulfills and exceeds expectations. This volume, like the foolproof gift of assorted chocolates, captures an array of artfulness. The goods of both established and emerging writers are found here, all under a cover adorned with an abstract painting by editor Jonathan K. Rice, who is also a visual artist.
Readers hungry for a story-like, narrative element will be dazzled by poems with the most subtle dusting of the mystical, including poems which double as ballads, fairy tales, or fables. See the first stanza of Mark Belair’s “The Amateur,” which could easily be a song or nursery rhyme:
My friend from Bombay
told the story of an uncle
who, late in the day,
sang beautifully – but
only if unbidden.
The speaker in T. Patrick Hanson’s “Arrogant Crescent” makes the moon into a living entity, like something from an ancient and forgotten tale. In one of Amy MacLennan’s entries, the title itself seems a moral: “Be Grateful for Running Water.” Her poem tells the story of a pregnant woman who falls into a well, and (spoiler alert!) leaves the reader with a fable-like outcome:
The villagers must drink
the common water, the ground
too hard yet to break. They wash
with her, drink tea made
from the fall of her hair,
cook meals for the lone man who,
come spring, will dig twice.
Move to the next row of sweets and you’ll enter the world of dreams: Larsen Bowker’s “A German Opera in Portugal” combines the narrator’s subconscious regret with Wagner, all in his sleep. Close by are the darker morsels, the stark emotional poems. In these you’ll find ruminations like Robert Cooperman’s “About Everything,” which shows a husband by the hospital bed of his second wife. He realizes he has taken her for granted as his fingers rub “gentle prayers into her hand.” A hurricane outside makes the lights flicker all the while.
Thumb a few pages more and you may find a new strand of literary pieces: Here one laden with biblical references, there a snapshot of history or perhaps a nugget filled with rhythm and thought. In short, this issue of Iodine Poetry Journal may be seen as a series of vibrant explosions. As Richard Allen says in his poem, titled appropriately the “Essence of Art”: writing presented like this is the “the gallery of the universe itself, exploding, still exploding, taking us along for the ride.”