A great literary magazine is one that makes you think and ponder and take several moments out of your busy life to just appreciate art and life. Thema offers some absolutely remarkable writing that grabbed me and forced me to sit and reread several times. I found myself thinking about the economy, relationships, writing, reading, art, and even the galaxy at large.
Janis Butler Holm instructs her readers to sing her poem “The Pirates of Finance” to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Major-General’s Song.” There are many pieces written about the economy, but this poem was both accurate and funny at the same time. The entertaining piece begins:
We live in an economy
where sharing wealth is blasphemy,
so just a few folks have the means
to live the life we call “the dream.”
Though equal opportunity’s
the ruling ideology,
we’ve race and class inequities
and gender inequality.
Holm continues to comment on how the upper-class is made up of criminals who do a lot of jail time and CEOs of big companies make a lot of money while the working class is taken advantage of and really struggling. She also makes you question what makes people celebrities: is it their intelligence or talent? The ending is just as genius as the meat of the poem you have to read to appreciate and chuckle along with:
On gasoline their money’s spent
with nothing left to pay the rent.
When jobs are outsourced overseas,
folks can’t afford their groceries.
So here’s to our democracy,
its fables and hypocrisy.
While others dream of Florida,
I’m looking into Canada.
I won’t lie, I completely relate to running out of money for bills after buying gas to get to work and know that most of us are really struggling. How long will we have to wait for our finances to get a little bit easier . . . or should we consider fleeing the country? While Holm utilizes humor to get her points across, the serious subject of the poem is not to be overlooked.
In her poem “Standard Questions (at the Reading),” Sandra Berris takes an unorthodox approach to structure and the relation of information. Without even hinting so much as a question, Berris lists her answers that the audience either has asked or would ask. The incredible thing about it is that while reading the poem, you can really insinuate what the questions would have been. For example, the opening line is: “Anytime, anywhere.” An audience member presumably asked when and where Berris usually writes. Some writers can only write in their favorite coffee shop or attic, and others only in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. The reader really gets to know Berris both as a writer and a person through this poem. Another line: “Iced soy chai,” is probably her drink of choice. Also: “No one. Well, Kinnell, Collins, / Adonizzio, Olds, Pinsky” is probably her response to who inspires her. Two of my favorite lines fall about halfway through the poem. Often, readers pick up on metaphors and other crafty things that writers had not originally intended to which she responds: “I’ve never noticed that.” Readers can also find interesting connections and coincidences that quite frankly do not exist (“Are you sure? . . . I’m from Nebraska”). This is the beautiful part of writing, the readers are allowed to interpret stories, poems, and books and make the reading experience their own.
Lisa Alexander Baron writes a crafty poem titled “Best-selling T-shirts for Dogs,” in which she delivers phrases to be printed on these T-shirts. While it almost physically pains me to be limited from sharing every single hysterical idea, you will have to just buy the issue to read them all. Still, here’s three to get your feet wet:“Alpha Female,” “Go ahead, scratch me,” and “Because the cat deserved it.”
Appropriately named “Wisecracks & Poems,” this issue will have you chuckling until the last page. Happy reading!