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eratio - 2008

  • Issue Number: Issue 11
  • Published Date: 2008
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual online

Eratio states that it “publishes poetry in the postmodern idioms with an emphasis on the intransitive,” which I take to mean that the poetry submissions it accepts are not conventional and are experimental with a focus or sentence structure that disconnects from the norm of verb/direct object relationship of sentence construction. A journal that insists upon a literary affectation of this kind could lend itself to stilted prose that sounds as if it removes certain language constraints just to be different. However, in this situation, it shows both the reader and the writer of poetry what possibilities it offers in tone and voice and overall flow of the poems.

In “Alphabet” by David Appelbaum, this journal’s technique is employed to witty effect, happily questioning the notion of words, ideas and the feelings they evoke: “O why do ideas / soar so grandly / with that spoon-billed / long-necked silhouette / flapping molecular north? / Why does passion / lift so thin?” In this poem, words are not something to be cherished but lamented for so often falling short of their intentions. In “a s” by James Stotts, language is something to be toyed with and dismantled as well as philosophized about in terms of how it sounds when spoken and what we hear when listening: “in being and time (p. 163) / h. maintains // just as linguistic utterance / is based on speech // so is acoustic perception / on hearing // what is it that he heard? // a whining cart / a motorcycle // the north wind / the labor of a woodpecker // a fire’s spit / a column on the march.”

In “Destiny is just a choice you keep making again and again and again…” by Melanie Brazzell, mathematics is utilized to discuss a kind of allegorical and metaphorical tragedy. “This multiplication table upon which / we lay and do our business, I say / I do not wish to be in love, / only to ache over the agar of this infection. // Anthropometry, the measuring of human skulls. / With glasses on, I peer over my printouts: / the mathematical risk of suicide, / invariably leaky latches on our play pens. / The danger of finding oneself facedown in the pool.” Again and again in this work, the issue of mortality is measured and calculated only to discover that it is perpetually looming.

Eratio deals with issues of language, voice, sound and human mortality with equal amounts grace, passion and linguistic experimentation, so we realize what the poem is attempting to accomplish. Besides the obvious gymnastics of the tongue and an emoting of the mind, it continues as we do, to express the plight of our existences, separated by imbalances of anguish and passion of our successes and our failures.

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Review Posted on December 14, 2008

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