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Pool - 2004

An annual poetry journal out of the underrepresented Los Angeles area, POOL comes with two surprises. The first is its structural egalitarianism: the poems are arranged alphabetically by author, encouraging readers to pick through the mag in any order or style they so please. And the reactions to these customized readings, those are the second surprise. I myself am struck by how experimental these poems are, with a line by Mark Irwin, a depiction of April, summing it up for me: “The frayed ciphers and hieroglyphs begin to green // and behind the flowers someone’s making invisible X’s / on the air. The mystery’s just beyond // your hands.” That mystery seems to be the rule here rather than the exception. A poem by Jose Garcia constructed from the borrowed quotes of ten classic authors, and a cubist study by Dan Kaplan written in the manner of an index, both may be more concept than contextually sound, and yet their inclusion impresses me. Still, the less avant-garde poems here are no disappointment, and prove that POOL can stand as a serious publication. Connie Voisine’s “The Bird is Her Reason,” which in using the songbird as a symbol for liberating, unattainable beauty, channels the great English Romantics and observes: “Sometimes all we want is one of these / Lenten lovers, full of a chaste passion repressed.” For poetry that stands at the forefront of expressivity, POOL is a magazine on the move and worth watching. [POOL, P.O. Box 49738, Los Angeles, CA 90049. Single issue $10.] – Christopher Mote
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Review Posted on May 31, 2005

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