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Vallum - 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 4
  • Published Date: 2006
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

This end-of-year issue by the Canadian journal Vallum is a pleasant and serious counterpoint to the monthly whimsies of Poetry. Its theme is the desert, and I’m not talking about the American diet. Through poetry, Vallum explores deserts of ice and deserts of sand and deserts of the mind. Still hungry? Good. Because Jane Hirschfield, near the opening pages offers up “Jasper, feldspar, quartzite, agate, granite, sandstone, slate.” And provided these are all stones and Hirschfield isn’t making words up, then I’m impressed. Actually her poem is very good, and the ending of a middle stanza sounds like a sound byte from a RZA track: “Each pebble, each planet, [. . .] I have heard them. / Monastic the strangeness.” I love the translations of poems by the Bangladeshi poet Rajlakshmi Devi. Devi, however, is entirely unimpressed with love. These are the ending lines of “Love is Solitude,” translated by Carolyne Wright and Mithi Mukherjee: “Love is just humanity—a kind of poverty. / A transcendence from one aloneness to another.” This aphorism, intensely poetic and unfamiliar, fortifies this issue of Vallum as worth the extra two Canadian dollars. There is also a thought-provoking essay by John Kinsella and wonderful desert photos by Sandi Wheaton. Vallum is poetry and means it.

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Review Posted on January 31, 2007

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