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Greatcoat - Spring 2007

  • Issue Number: Issue 1
  • Published Date: Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

Greatcoat: an oversized, catch-all garment designed to protect in all kinds of weather. Practical, not flattering, it provides comfort without ostentation. The debut issue of Greatcoat is thin enough, at 83 pages, to fit inside a greatcoat pocket, yet it lives up to its name, enveloping the reader in poems and essays which blur the design lines and obliterate genre seams. The first of the two essays exemplifies Greatcoat’s vision. “Electric Energy,” excerpted from a 1998 book by Lynn Strongin, is a spinning centrifuge of non-sequiturs and vivid imagery. From the quotations about aging which open the piece, Strongin distills ideas of a “cell-like enclosure” trapping the women in her life: “I used to dream I made myself a home in a beehive as a child: clean, solitary, holy.” Through illness, self-destruction, and alienation, Strongin flits from image to image as if she were indeed the bee, and her essay is a dance between beauty and decay. The poems in Greatcoat dance as well. In fact, despite this journal’s stated openness to all forms, the poetry in this issue leans heavily toward the experimental, with scarcely a single received form in evidence. Clipped language and predicate-only sentences achieve a taut vibrancy in “What Is a Tenor,” by G. C. Waldrep: “An apple in December. Sweet. Will ask upwards. Will move from / side to side as if a great earthwork nudging past attraction into some valid spectrum. Sweet.” Syntactical and linguistic explorations appear throughout the many poems of this issue, as typified by F. Daniel Rzicznek’s “Son of Kentucky”: “And one bloated, drank / from the sky it swam: // what plummet and blink, // what pale. Many fine dogs / begged at the edge / of our burnings—” See also the thought-provokingly dense non-sentences of Shira Dentz’s “Loss”: “Again a voice draws overhead. / Sorry & sour / The miscellaneous chunks of; / lasso.” Greatcoat is sleek and well-designed, though not yet as eclectic as it aims to become. With its clear dedication to work that’s evocative, future issues will be well worth watching.

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Review Posted on May 31, 2007

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