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Slipstream - 2010

  • Issue Number: Number 30
  • Published Date: 2010
  • Publication Cycle: Annual

This issue is a beautifully composed collection of poetry and black-and-white photography commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of Slipstream Magazine. Elegant, hauntingly surreal images by David Thompson and Lauren Simonutti, interspersed among the poetry, compliment perfectly the magazine’s tone. Poems contributed by authors from walks of life ranging from the academic to the janitorial present a similarly diverse range of perspectives, yet the poems feel like they were meant to be published together. The collection flows seamlessly from beginning to end in a way that makes reading it in its entirety not only easy to do, but extraordinarily rewarding as well.

The consistent excellence of the poetry in this issue makes it difficult to choose stand-out pieces. The issue’s centerpiece is a long work by E.R. Baxter III, titled “Finding Niagara,” a contemplative poem that explores the passage from childhood to adulthood, life in Niagara Falls, New York, and the simple act of human connection. Near the poem’s conclusion, Baxter writes:

So a man brings his saxophone to Main Street, Niagara Falls, NY.
He does not say, you could grow up to be prez, young man.
He does not say no riffs, no electricity, no amps, no watts, Ernie,
no keys to that, Bobbie, no scrap talk, no trash talk, He plays:
And while he plays, I would have said, if someone had been standing
there on the sidewalk with me, what you sees is what you getz, man,
and that’s the plan, Stan, but I am old and not cool.

The poem ends with an affirmation of the beauty of human relationships:

So who was that man with the saxophone? Was he a redman
in the dewey night? Or a black man, an ornate coal man hopping
a ride on a coal train, a fat head new man? His initials are VJ,
I found out later when we talked, but I do not think he is related
to Etta, though it is possible he is related to Jess.
When the night ended, someone could have shot A. cannonball
down Main Street. There were just the two of us, talking.

Also included is a beautiful prose poem by Matthew Snyder, titled “A Bum with an American Flag,” which concludes:

At first glance, he appears to be missing his left arm, but I have seen it slither out from the hem of his shirt and work with the right. That wouldn’t be tolerated in other lifestyles. He closes the lids of the trash cans and moves on and if the moon is up he can hear the crashing of the gears that move it across the sky.

“The Best Way to Go Blind” is a particularly interesting piece for a number of reasons, the first of which being that it is coauthored by two poets, Cathryn Cofell and Michael Kriesel. The poem consists of a series of offset couplets which read beautifully across as well as up-and-down. It is unclear which parts of the poem are written by which author, but I am inclined to assume that each “column” started as an individual poem written by one of the two poets. Either way, the end result is gorgeous and the two poet’s voices meld beautifully into one, their separate contributions forming a thoroughly cohesive and coherent whole.

This issue is a beautifully composed collection of poetry and black-and-white photography commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of Slipstream Magazine. Elegant, hauntingly surreal images by David Thompson and Lauren Simonutti, interspersed among the poetry, compliment perfectly the magazine’s tone. Poems contributed by authors from walks of life ranging from the academic to the janitorial present a similarly diverse range of perspectives, yet the poems feel like they were meant to be published together. The collection flows seamlessly from beginning to end in a way that makes reading it in its entirety not only easy to do, but extraordinarily rewarding as well.

The consistent excellence of the poetry in this issue makes it difficult to choose stand-out pieces. The issue’s centerpiece is a long work by E.R. Baxter III, titled “Finding Niagara,” a contemplative poem that explores the passage from childhood to adulthood, life in Niagara Falls, New York, and the simple act of human connection. Near the poem’s conclusion, Baxter writes:

So a man brings his saxophone to Main Street, Niagara Falls, NY.
He does not say, you could grow up to be prez, young man.
He does not say no riffs, no electricity, no amps, no watts, Ernie,
no keys to that, Bobbie, no scrap talk, no trash talk, He plays:
And while he plays, I would have said, if someone had been standing
there on the sidewalk with me, what you sees is what you getz, man,
and that’s the plan, Stan, but I am old and not cool.

The poem ends with an affirmation of the beauty of human relationships:

So who was that man with the saxophone? Was he a redman
in the dewey night? Or a black man, an ornate coal man hopping
a ride on a coal train, a fat head new man? His initials are VJ,
I found out later when we talked, but I do not think he is related
to Etta, though it is possible he is related to Jess.
When the night ended, someone could have shot A. cannonball
down Main Street. There were just the two of us, talking.

Also included is a beautiful prose poem by Matthew Snyder, titled “A Bum with an American Flag,” which concludes:

At first glance, he appears to be missing his left arm, but I have seen it slither out from the hem of his shirt and work with the right. That wouldn’t be tolerated in other lifestyles. He closes the lids of the trash cans and moves on and if the moon is up he can hear the crashing of the gears that move it across the sky.

“The Best Way to Go Blind” is a particularly interesting piece for a number of reasons, the first of which being that it is coauthored by two poets, Cathryn Cofell and Michael Kriesel. The poem consists of a series of offset couplets which read beautifully across as well as up-and-down. It is unclear which parts of the poem are written by which author, but I am inclined to assume that each “column” started as an individual poem written by one of the two poets. Either way, the end result is gorgeous and the two poet’s voices meld beautifully into one, their separate contributions forming a thoroughly cohesive and coherent whole.

This issue is great, not only because of the great poetry and photography it contains, but also because the book itself is a genuine work of art. Both the individual works as well as the book in its whole are worth multiple readings, and my copy will undoubtedly be making its way back up off my bookshelf and into my hands in the near future.
[www.slipstreampress.org]

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Review Posted on January 14, 2011
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