“The Jilted Issue: Poems of Love Lost” – I’ll admit I was nervous. In the interview that opens the issue with prolific poet and editor, Ontario native and British Columbia resident Tom Wayman, Wayman surmises that poets are drawn to write about love because poetry is the language of heightened emotion. And love is, certainly, one of life’s “main sources of heightened emotion.” Frankly, my anxiety was heightened from the get-go as I envisioned a volume of overwrought, or worse sentimental, verse. But this is, after all, Contemporary Verse 2, and I need not have worried! These are wonderful poems, surprisingly unpredictable in language, if not emotion, with contributions from widely published poets and poetry editors (Tom Wayman, Rocco di Giacomo, Susan McCaslin, Jenna Butler) as well as writers whose poetry may be less well known, but whose work is no less worthy (Kelli Russell Agodon, Robert Banks Foster). The issue also includes winners of the 2007 Lina Chartrand Poetry Award, Aldona Dzieziejko and Elsabeth de Marialfi.
I appreciated the range of styles, tones, voices, and modes, from the more casually narrative (“I cannot bring myself to leave the kitchen table. / It is laden with food, with a lemon cake” from “Pillion” by Claire Sharpe), to the confessional (“We? How communal am I today, / how far can I see in this dour / lack of light? I’m trying to speak for the whole street” from “Twelfth Grey Day in a Row” by Barry Dempster), to the lyrical (“April is disturbed ground – / persistence of grasses. // Compassion – to sit down beside.” from “Fallow Field” by Robert Banks Foster).
I was especially impressed with a highly original and tremendously moving prose poem by Asher Ghaffar, “Notes to the Father (ii),” and reminded that poems of “love lost” need not be defined solely as romantic love. And I must not close this brief and woefully inadequate review without mentioning Rose Hunter’s “Jesse.” Ordinarily, I’d be put off by a poem that includes the line “You know, this shit is historical,” but followed by “he says .38 cal historical bullet shards in Jesse’s thigh,” I’m forced to reconsider this stance. When I closed the cover of the “Jilted Issue: Poems of Love Lost,” I felt anything but jilted, though I’ll admit I was, let’s say, a little lost. I didn’t want the issue to end.