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Poetry East - Spring 2007

  • Image: Image
  • Issue Number: Number 58 and 59
  • Published Date: Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly

Poetry East is a 220-page journal containing nothing but poetry and contributors’ notes. The journal often publishes theme issues, past themes including post-war Italian poetry, Finnish poetry, and issues dedicated entirely to Robert Bly, Muriel Rukeyser, and “Ammons/Bukowski/Corman.” I’d like to get my hands on some of those past issues. The current issue has no purported theme, but a majority of the poems would fit well with the past issue “Praise,” (Poetry East has actually published a Praise I and a Praise II) or with the forthcoming issue, “Bliss.” I don’t mean to suggest that I don’t care for praising or blissful poems, but this relatively thick journal seemed to me, taken as a whole, a bit too even in tone. A good many of the poems could have pushed the envelope a little more. Tone-wise, there were exceptions (for example, no less than five poems by David Harbilas that express a general displeasure with quotidian life – one critical of a self-centered restaurant owner, another called “Letter to Human Resources”). The overall essence of this issue can be summed up in lines from Elizabeth Poreba’s “Oak”: “The space between each leaf / sliced October sapphire // into gemstones. // No pathos of dying leaf— / an aura of silence, // an achievement so complete / no need to ask whose . . .” Among poems that stand out in their more complicated praise include: Juliana Gray’s sonnet, “For Eliza at Sixteen Months,” Moira Linehan’s “Whatever Jewish Mother Means,” and Mike White’s “Décor”: “. . .the African mask that slipped its nail / . . . severe features summoning essence of tribal nobility // gone now . . . we found / astonished mirth gazing up from the floor.” I find Frederick Smock’s “Kiss” sweetly irresistible: “Since having to get reading glasses, / taking them off has become my sign / that I want to kiss you.” Finally, Louisa A. Igloria’s “Perfectibility,” which invokes the 19th century Japanese painter Hokusai to praise a modern work, is just plain wonderful.

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Review Posted on June 30, 2007

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