This issue of Prairie Schooner contains poetry, short stories, reviews, and great cover art by Chris Ware which made me want to read his graphic novels.
I like how almost all Prairie Schooner’s poets contribute at least two poems. One of the three poems by Jesse Lee Kercheval explains how night comes to all, but our choice is how we face it. Her “Night” begins: “The Night hums like a preoccupied / mother making something / white & bitter cold for / dinner” and ends “Should we cry / out, warn her? Or / should we pull a chair / up to the table & / take our chances too?” And just when I think I’m sick of poems about poetry, Julia Wendell’s “Poem” takes a new spin by likening the creation of poetry to the care of a moody horse: “nothing happens / unless I shake you up, / send you out into the world / where you may or may not / gallop off, deserting & outliving me.”
My mom used to tell me self-conscious people think they’re being thought or talked about when they’re really the last thing on the other peoples’ minds. Eskrich is the self-conscious man in Nancy Zafris’ story “After Lunch,” but, despite his hyperconsciousness, he realizes that no one – not even his wife or his doctor – truly cares about his well being. Aside from “After Lunch,” I found the plots of some of the other short stories stale.
The reviews are worth reading, however, and Willis G. Regier’s comments on Samuel Johnson’s The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets renewed my interest in that much-talked-about but (I imagine) little-read book. Regier lists a few compelling reasons why the book should be read and lauds this new edition’s editor, Roger Lonsdale.
I will need to read more issues of Prairie Schooner before I decide if I like their prose, but their poetry and reviews won me over.