Hanging Loose marks its 100th issue with a demonstration of why it’s been around so long. “Couldn’t put it down” is usually reserved for novels, but Hanging Loose keeps you turning the pages, wondering what strong, sly, smart or stunning piece is next.
HL, as Hanging Loose refers to itself, has published many of these writers before. Jack Anderson, who had work in the very first issue 46 years ago, has three fine slice-of-life poems in No. 100. Marie Carter, with two books from HL Press, writes an essay, both chatty and expertly controlled, about her mother’s wedding in Scotland. Gerald Fleming, whose book of prose poems Night of Pure Breathing came out from HL last year, offers three short, perfect fusions of the flash fiction and prose poem genres.
There are many others, including Gemma Cooper-Novack, whose first appearance in HL was as a Writer of High School Age, one of the magazine’s wonderful regular features. Back then, Cooper-Novack’s poem, “Shooting the Rat,” provided the title for HL’s third anthology of high school writing. In Hanging Loose 100, she contributes a fine poem on the malleability of experience in the mind, “Yesterday and Australia.”
HL is still publishing Writers of High School Age. In this issue, they are Abby Spasser of Augusta, Ga., Richard Yu of Fresh Meadows, N.Y., and Annakai Geshider Hayakawa of San Francisco, whose poem “The Words Have Eyes” resonates with these lines:
he wouldn’t be so mighty, full, deep-voiced
like a thick and sweet wood-smelling guitar with shoulders,
Japanese salty sweet rich soupstock
that he is
Another writer who got a start in HL was poet Paul Violi, who died last year at age 66. Mark Hillringhouse interviewed Violi several times over seven years, and the lengthy, wide-ranging result is published in this issue. Here’s a slice, on deconstructionism: “I don’t think that there’s no such thing as a meaningful poem. Too much humanity and too much heart have gone into poetry for it to be trivialized.”
Every issue of HL also showcases the work of a visual artist. There’s double measure in this issue: a portfolio of darkly detailed ink drawings of northern buildings by David (R. C.) Oster and a whimsical collaboration between artist Toni Simon and poet Joanna Fuhrman, “After the Letters Collapsed.”
Standing out even in the context of this issue’s consistent high quality are poems by David Lehman, Elana Bell, HL editor Robert Hershon, Jan Heller Levi, Dan O’Brien, Paula Alida Roy, Sarah White, David Wagoner and David Wright, and a great story about how things go bad, “A Weekend Fling,” by Richard Spilman.
Hang in there, Hanging Loose, for another hundred issues. And several hundred after that.