This issue of Burnside Review brings with it some big changes. While it is still unmistakably an issue of Burnside Review, a new poetry editor, John Pursley III, and a new fiction editor, Adam O’Connor Rodriquez, have brought a new energy to the journal and are taking the journal to the next level.
With the constant steady flow and even line breaks, Sandra Kohler’s nine-part poem “Recasting” is set up to make the cycles on which it centers completely unavoidable to the reader. The poem starts out in a sleep cycle:
Every night I travel out of this country
to a place somewhere between midnight
and five where I stand at a mirror fixing
my hair, afflicted in dream with the same
unruliness of things-in-themselves I wake to.
Starting the poem off with the word “every” calls upon the reader to think of repetition, “every night” this is what happens. But Kohler does not stop there; she makes sure to insert several dreams throughout the piece. The cycle of life is also meditated very heavily on with the emphasis leaning toward death:
There is a myth somewhere that tells us what
to eat and when, how to consume sorrow,
bear the onslaught of time. I haven’t learned
that language yet, the characters inscribed on
the mossy green flesh of stones. The moment
comes. . . .
This really is a compelling piece of work and worthwhile to read.
The poem “Excavations” by Rosalie Moffett is a delicate and sensual poem driven by meditative qualities, starting:
My black dog dug holes
all through November
and I studied: cave as a verb. Cave as a thing
does, yielding. The dog,
The reader is being asked to meditate along with the narrator on the action word “cave,”; it brings the reader to a delicate, even vulnerable place, which is the essence of the poem. The poem grows more sensual with each stanza:
Of all the surfaces, the mouth heals
the fastest. Most things, when held
in the mouth, dissolve. The exceptions: coins,
quartz, your edges. I try you and try you,
A. M. O’Malley’s “Banana Skin” is a first person narrative; however, the narrator is not the protagonist, but, rather, the protagonist is the narrator’s mother. The reader follows the mother and her daughter throughout the course of their lives together. The whole story comes in the form of short, factual sentences, skillfully laced with emotion:
A gang of bikers beat her up for snitching on a robbery, they put her bloody head under a hot faucet I remember the sound of yelling and running water. They tried to steal her cowboy boots, pulling on them while she was in the tub, but my mother kept her toes curled and kept her boots.
The narrator seems to use these factual statements as an attempt to distance herself from any emotion she should be feeling. It is as if adding “I remember the sound of yelling and running water” at the end of the sentence will negate the implied impact it had on the narrator and will allow the reader to negate it as well. This is not the case though; this constant intertwining of fact and emotion pull at the reader continuously in the same way the narrator is being pulled while actually experiencing the happenings in the story.
It is also worth mentioning that this issue of Burnside features a couple of poems along with an interview with Rae Armantrout. The interview serves as a compliment to the two poems and allows you to see more in depth how Armantrout crafts her poems.
So yes, Burnside Review has undergone a couple of major changes when it comes to the editorial staff, but do not fear. If anything, it looks as if the journal is only being taken in an upward direction.