Center is 200 plus pages of what you would expect from a quality literary journal – poems, short stories, autobiographical essays, and an interview. It also contains the not-so-usual, “Symposium on the Line: Theory and Practice in Contemporary Poetry.” Lines, even more, line breaks, are discussed imaginatively by distinguished poets.
The poetry, as typical of Center, is first-rate. Example – an aching seven stanza verse in "Flight" by Anna Ross: “Too late we find her: / a pinned heart already slowing / through the monitor’s static, each beat / slipping a further cog.” Ross writes lovingly about nature, the fields, valleys, and mountains, and evocatively about regrets collected with the passage of time. A short story, April Ayers Lawson’s “Beautiful Feet,” runs us through a rite of youth, a la adventure and romance, innocence and naughtiness, with a wonderfully original sense of humor, and a bit of wistfulness.
The centerpiece is the symposium. Far from being an intellectual discussion, it is full of passionate revelations of the poets’ feelings about line breaks in modern poetry. All agree upon their utmost importance; Cynthia Hogue states: “The line as used in contemporary American poetry is a joint as well as a building block, tensile and flexible, active and effective, distilling great feeling into a form of endless variance.” Noah Eli Gordon relates: “For me, the line rises from just such a balance between diligent exactitude and explosive, ebullient destruction.” Christina Davis puts it simply, “As the sunset of one line begins / the sunrise of another.” The discussions are anything but dull. They are literary, poetic, insightful, and dynamic; they give a view into the mental processes of a poet.
All this wrapped up in a paper-back-sized volume with a lime green and grey cover that includes an etching of a withered leaf that looks like a fairy might be hiding underneath. That’s magic!