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Poetry Northwest - Spring/Summer 2010

  • Issue Number: Volume 5 Issue 1
  • Published Date: Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

With this issue, the journal moves from its home at the Attic Writers Workshop in Portland, Oregon to the Written Arts Program at Everett Community College on the Puget Sound. Editor Kevin Craft says the journal will remain true to its “capacity to be of one place and reflective of many,” and he describes the journal’s editorial approach:

[W]e’re on the lookout for poems that offer an experience, palpable or possible, of being in the world, poems that articulate a biography of imagination, that revel in slow time, deep time, upend-able sense. A poem is a form of patience, a fresh encounter with memory and history, as with a paw print deep in the woods. It stalks us, a record of our having been, of our capacity for renewal, to the company of observant words…it is one way to stand for the complexity of existence, a sound board to set against, or resonate with.

Here is Bob Hicock, his voice alternating between playful and wistfully clever, as we usually find him, articulating his experience of being in the world in “the theology of pressure-treated lumber” (or is this an experience of upend-able sense?):

I’m being punished
by God for not believing in God. I believe
you see my point: agnosticism
is hard work and I’m about
to be crucified in my garage for a crime
I certainly might be guilty of. For if I
truly have an open mind, I have
to be the guy next to the guy
next to Jesus

And here is Andrew Zawacki’s form of slow patience in “Videotape: 36” (or is this upend-able sense?):

Au petit matin
unspooled from its cartridge,
haze filter
fitted, the flutter and wow,
a gobo to cut down on
Luberon lumen
& Cyan à la

Srikanth Reddy’s biography of imagination from “Voyager, Book 3 (Chapter 6)” (upend-able sense?) is too hard to recreate here, the uneven columns and strikethroughs, the evocative spacing, and I realize the individual words don’t constitute an authentic quotation from the poem by themselves, but here goes: “Archbishop A with his deteriorating wing and took the chair there, regarded the world in disrepair.”

And here is Jason Whitmarsh’s encounter with memory and history in his prose poem “History of Television” (upend-able sense?):

We learned lately that everything ever shown on television had been staged, even the news, even the documentaries and Welcome Back Kotter. In reality, the things that had happened had happened in slightly different clothes: Wider lapels, or skinnier ties, or a more reflective sheen on her sequin dress. No camera, we were told, could ever pick up those sequins.

And, finally, there is a long poem by Daniel Groves, “The Lost Boys,” about what stalks us, exploring the self inside, against, in opposition to our family history, up-ending our lives to mine those paw prints, not from some other animal, but the ones we left behind ourselves:

"I’m him" the little kid across the aisle
pipes up every other second, mile
after mile, and, pointing out the pick
of pictures on a dog-eared page, as quick
as Dad can turn, is made the character,
reborn at every turn, he would prefer
to be.

Craft’s explanation of what poems do and how they can be seems right to me, as these examples demonstrate. And the work in Poetry Northwest admirably and competently illustrates and embodies his definition. Upend-able sense as a concept appeals to me as a reader, a reviewer, and a poet. If a poem cannot make me question what and how things make meaning, what can?

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Review Posted on July 29, 2010

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