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New American Writing - 2003

This is a journal that prides itself on taking risks and elevating the new. In this case, one of the new things it introduces us to is the poetry of Picasso, featured across seventeen pages, in translation, with lines like “III and in the organ fry up the dead leaves/ II that draw blood/ III that the lake’s light astonishes/ I and makes sing.” This issue is rich with allusion to visual arts; the first section of the journal, Richter 858, includes responses to painter Gerhard Richter’s work, excerpts from a multimedia anthology on the same subject. While a fair amount of the poetry appeared barely comprehensible, someone with an eye for talent seems to have placed the bets here. Big names like Jorie Graham and Edward Hirsch dot the pages, and poems like Donna La Perriere’s “Gospel” and the erudite, complex “The Beheading” about the life of Caravaggio by Clayton Eshleman give you hope that New American poetry might be something you actually want to read. At least the work, with its dazzling array of forms, from densely-packed prose to different fonts clustering around the page in different sizes as if they were afraid of each other, won’t bore you. The challenge may just keep you engaged long enough to figure out the puzzles inside this issue. [New American Writing, 369 Molino Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941 Single issue $8.00.] - JHG

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Review Posted on September 30, 2003

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