This issue’s cover is a riveting photo of Japanese-Americans at a Los Angeles rail station on their way (forcibly) to internment camps in 1942. In fact, the photo is so beautifully composed and so striking, it’s hard to open the cover and leave it behind. But, it would be a shame not to, the issue’s simply terrific. “Poetry…survives war’s upheavals and seeks to leave an enduring record…rebuilding has always been part of poetry’s promises,” assert Poet Lore’s editors. Much of the work here certainly deserves to endure.
This issue’s highlights include a great little essay by prolific and accomplished poet Linda Pastan on types of poems about poetry (which she confesses to liking, as do I). She’s astute; her prose is clear and unburdened; and there’s no pretentious academic jargon. David Lehman introduces a small portfolio of work by poet Kate Angus whose writing is happily and admirably just as he describes it: poems that exhibit a “lyrical intelligence.” Here is an excerpt from “Here’s a Little Personal History”:
Tom’s the monster in the box,
Rochester’s wife locked
up in the attic. What do you call
lithium’s language? I say,
chalk revelations scrawled on the board,
but half-erased equations. Is death the same
Angus has a dozen poems here and I’d have loved a dozen more. Her titles are clever and attention grabbing; her voice is unique, sometimes biting, sometimes tender (never sentimental); and the poems never sound like writing exercises from an MFA workshop.
I was impressed by poems from Jeremy Halinen, “A Brief History of Disbelief” (“It’s the other man’s indifference, finally, that lifts / this man to his feet”); Sandra Meek, “Image Not Available” (“So you must enter this scene / from inside the girl desperate for some / yes from the world”); and Fred Yannantuono. Here is “Metrical Sesame Palindrome” in its entirety: “One poem, you buoy me. Open! O!” O, Poet Lore, you buoy me!