At first glance, Clover has a unique style and appeal. Rather than a typical paperback literary magazine, this rag has a letterpress cover; pea soup green border with plum purple lettering. The cover drew me into the magazine, and I dove in, ready to dig up some kind of treasure. Although the beginning of the magazine is rather bland, it works up momentum to about the middle where it just explodes.
So let’s dig in. Larry Crist brings us an action poem titled “French Quarter, Fat Tuesday, 2009.” Rarely do I come across this type of poem; the first stanza sets up the scene and really allows you to picture the setting right before taking you on an adventure that starts in the second stanza:
A plump girl in a tight purple dress and heels ran past us
pursued by a greasy young man,
lanky, dark, unctuous, a mustache
looked like he pumped gas for a living
She was blond, made up, pissed off
stopped beside the building before us
She had been crying
He grabbed her, tried to kiss her
She clocked him
They fell back into a doorway of a business not open
The reader is able to see the poem unfold as the narrator observes it. This allows the reader to become an active agent in the poem, a style I really enjoy. The poem continues to follow the argument and its resolution. The narrator reveals a sly jealousy of the young couple, of their youthful emotions that age eventually forces each of us out of.
Libby Garcia was named Clover’s contest winner. Her poem “One Man’s Nest” lands in the middle of the issue with its poignant images centered on grief. For example, “Grief is palpable here / settled in heavy blue-gray layers / a low-lying mist nearly visible from the street.” Grief is a universal emotion that brings people together; however, Garcia takes a different approach. She gives the person who is dying a voice that carries over the pages following this piece, making it one the reader cannot seem to forget.
Stephanie Cosky Hopkinson includes an excerpt from the “best book on living with Bipolar/ADHD [she’s] ever almost finished writing” she has titled Being Wacko. It is humorous, fun, and light, in addition to also being adventurous, deep, and sensitive. Each part of the story is fantastic writing, and it captures your attention with a vice grip. This excerpt highlights a trip to the supermarket where, after she mentally checks off a dozen or so precautions, she braces herself to enter the store:
The battlefield lies beyond the sliding doors. It changes little week to week—fixtures high overhead emit an unreal light that makes everything look a little far away and foreign, just the way the whole world looks when an anxiety attack is trying to overwhelm me. Music drops from hidden speakers, sudden pitch changes like tiny grenades exploding my ears, add to the disorientation. Every item becomes a distraction and leads me to indecision, trains of thought that go nowhere, forgotten items.
Without making the reader feel uncomfortable or chastised, Hopkinson takes us along for the wild ride she calls life. I am aching for her to finish writing the book Being Wacko, and am certain it will be met with positive reviews and hype.
There are many more fabulous writers included in this issue of Clover which I encourage you to seek for yourself. Go have “A Farewell Drink” with Michael Yeager or enter the doors of “School, 1969” with Janet Bergstrom. It left me so satisfied that I sat back, placed the book gently on the table, and took a few conscious breaths before getting back to the daily grind.