How is it that there have been 20 issues before the one I’m holding—die cut corner, rubber band binding, and all—in amazement of this charming and worthwhile little journal and I had not heard of it or seen it anywhere? Published by Ugly Duckling Presse, 6x6 features the work of just 6 (of course!) writers (in this issue: Julie Carr, Marosa di Giorgio, Farid Matuk, Amanda Nadelberg, Sara Wintz, and Michael Barron) in an innovative, but low-key design that is original, clever, but unassuming. The poetry is paramount. And it deserves the attention the design enables.
“A man walks into a bar / a man walks into a table / A man walks into a hole/” from Carr’s “Think Thank” are the journal’s opening lines and set up our expectations, which is to say…don’t have any. These poets will surprise and engage you: “This speaker / likes obsolescence / for there is no way to mimic that which has been taken / from us,” Carr goes on to instruct us.
There are no contributors’ notes to inform me of Di Giorgios’s (1932-2004) national/cultural affiliation; her work, from “The History of Violets,” however, is translated from the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas. And the originals do not appear here, so it is difficult to assess the quality of the translation. Nonetheless, the poetry reads effortlessly, an indication that the translation is a fine and reliable one (“At this hour the farms become desolate; but, from time to time, the dark heads of thieves appear among the trees.”) Di Giorgio’s work, like Carr’s, is an effective merging of immediate and precise detail and more abstract, larger metaphysical yearning. “I remember eternity,” she concludes.
All of the work in this issue, in fact, embodies this poetic dynamic, often with great success. Nadelberg is especially sensitive to sound; Matuk is adept at telling a story of political and cultural importance in terse, smartly crafted verse. Wintz is a masterful poetic storyteller, managing to put whole lifetimes into single lines:
i contain years, i’m pretty positive.
i contain years and if years then centuries.
i am a century and this is my century, if all of this is mine then i am that century.
Barron offers six little maps “Directions” to a variety of locations, including his apartment, his practice space, John McMain’s office, and his parents’ house (“my mom is nice and will accommodate you”). Isn’t every trip a kind of poem? Or is it the reverse?
6x6 costs a mere $5.00—I’d gladly pay $6.