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The Bitter Oleander - 2003

This well-regarded journal focuses on poetry and fiction that uses “the deep image,” so the work here, as you might expect, focuses less on the narrative thread and more on lyric imagery. The poetry here seems more successful than the short fiction. Take, for instance, the following lines with their trilling sound effects from Silvia Scheibli’s “Monsoon Season:”

Nude Banana Leaves
Scissor-kick light
Across saltillo tiles

or these from Ray Gonzalez’ “Memorize:”

Memorize the ashes from the last century.
Brush the wind off your hair…

Sometimes you walk afraid.
Other times, there are moths fluttering in the shadows.

This issue includes an inspiring interview, as well as poetry and memoir-excerpts from Carol Dine. I also liked the translations of Eunice Odio’s work. To really appreciate the work here, I would recommend reading this beautifully-produced and generously-sized issue in small doses; otherwise, the images and language in the poetry tend to run together, and you’ll miss out on the delicate texture of the collection. [The Bitter Oleander Press, 4983 Tall Oaks Drive, Fayetteville, New York 13066-9776. Email: . Single issue $8.00. www.bitteroleander.com/issues.html] - JHG

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Review Posted on August 31, 2003
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