Peripheral by nature, Marginalia’s slice-of-life vignettes range from titles such as “Other People are a Maze” to Barbara Baer’s “Korean Ribs.” The latter includes a wonderfully translated line, “Please hair that looks like sow.” Only an Animal Collective song can compare in its breadth of lyrics to the wonderfully captured sentiment and moment in each piece.
“Upstairs at the Clue® Mansion” is instantly one of my favorite poems, taking the flat board game to another dimension with the lines “Even Marco Polo stammered trying to describe / Kinsai ‘City of Heaven’ – the stammer enough / for some to cast doubt . . . stories of twelve thousand bridges and three thousand hot spring baths.” The writings are all experiments, some abandoned, others carried through the unnatural, but traditional story arc. A reunion between father and son in “The Father Sightings” by Ron Burch stutters the lines, “I love you, son, he said… I actually looked down embarrassed and shocked. That’s when he got me with the bottle across the head.” Magnificent treatment of sentiment, using it as a ruse.
Don’t cover letters make for marginalia, since they’re discarded? Like Michael Martone’s epic contributor’s notes-filled novel Michael Martone, Paul Hostovsky’s “Cover Letter” slithers in, camouflaged as background reading. It’s got the perfect tone: “P.S. If the poems disappear, please consider cover letter.”
Reviews in this issue include two of Tom Whalen’s works, and one by Steven Wingate titled “Steve Katz and the Experimental Fictionalist Identity.” As one of the founders of FC2, Wingate is a father of contemporary experimental fiction, and reviewing three of his books in one go is an inevitably shallow yet very Marginalia attempt at reviewing.
The best part about this journal is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It pokes fun of itself in the margins. Found poems occur here, as does a seemingly stolen, but completely original one: Matt Dennison’s “Eagered by the Sun a Thief,” with the lines: “(O the dry acrobats / in pitiful intoxication / against / the sky!).”