Florida is a wildly unique collage of environments, from the gritty urban core of Miami to dense crocodile infested swamps; from the upscale shops of tropical Longboat Key to the historic architecture of Jacksonville, where the nights are distinctly northern with their chilly edges. This journal reflects this rich diversity from the edgy, tongue-in-cheek poetry of “spotlighted” poet Denise Duhamel, to the arch intelligence of prose stylist Janet Burroway (an interview and a story)—I have always admired them both.
Spotlighted, as well, in this issue is the gifted poet Ricardo Pau-Llosa, also interviewed here. Following is an excerpt from “Seat 19-F Window, Flight to San Juan”:
of continents is that their edges might have wished
to lurk in reef and wallow timeless
in the shifts of water painted by simmering salt.
Then these masses would always be
unprepared and young, better apt
for that strange gleaning in another’s eye
Pau-Llosa’s poems are followed by a tremendously appealing portrait, in muted tones, of the poet, painted by Heriberto Mora, one of dozen works of art reproduced in this issue, all quite marvelous in their own ways and as different from each other as the spectacle of Disney World in Orlando from the flat-roofed houses of central Florida’s forgotten towns.
Volume 4 also features a “flash” (e-mail) conversation between Daniele Pantano and Campbell McGrath; an interview with popular novelist Dennis Lehane; satisfying essays by Christine Hale, Pamela Galbraeth, and Tampa Review editor Donald Morrill; a number of short stories; and poetry by Nick Vagnoni, and Gianna Russo, among many others. Fiction is clever and engaging, original stories that do not try too hard to exert their originality. Poetry is vivid and immediate, without being overly self-conscious.
Janet Burroway says in her interview with Ryan Little that she worries sometimes about there being more writers than readers. As long as there are journals as smart and engaging as Saw Palm, there will be at least as many readers as writers.