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Interim - 2006

What are the implications of being human in a complex age? Interim offers a special feature on the subject, and it’s likely to stimulate debate as much as inform. Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover, partners in art as well as life, make cases for literature as an ancillary tool for improving the human person in an age plagued by deception and frivolity. “Isn’t tolerance possible,” asks Chernoff, “given the novel as the school of building it word by word in the best part of our minds, which are always seeking parables for life?” It’s thought-provoking, though there is much to debate: not all irony is necessarily frivolous, and for all the promises of reading, it seems unlikely that our politicians would be better human beings (not to say leaders) if they would just reread To Kill a Mockingbird. This is simplification, granted, but Chernoff and Hoover provide much to ponder for and against. The poetry of Interim should do the same; it takes up more than half of this thick, square journal, and sure enough, it doesn’t condescend to its readers. Call it language poetry or affix a post-___ label to it if you like. I find St. Augustine’s paradox appropriate: you know what it is, as long as no one asks you to define it. The space provided, to say the least, is generous: an average of five pages per poet. Anne Blonstein’s pastiches weave a variety of found sources, complete with footnotes, into long lines that challenge traditional syntax. “Is there any way to really look / at something?” is a straightforward question that appears in a poem by Justin Vicari, only to be followed by a mouthful of word-images: “cut limbs from the tree of taxonomies / without which we wouldn’t even know our nets had some purpose in the chronic act of casting out.” At its most daring, Interim’s poetry jumps around the page and asks us to make a mental completion of the white space. Definitely not for beginners, sometimes too recondite for its own good, but when the image registers, it’s rewarding and even, dare I say, fun. []

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Review Posted on April 30, 2007

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