The quality, skill, and star power you expect from Indiana Review – it’s all here. The range of voices and approaches (Denise Duhamel, Fady Joudah, Joy Katz) – that, too. And Bob Hicok, who is these days (or was it always?), it seems, everywhere. The issue’s special feature is “Blue,” which opens with wonderful paintings by Armando Meriño, one blue in obvious ways, the other less so, which is true as well of the literary works included in the feature.
Standouts this issue for me are lovely, cautious poems by Bruce Snider, Timothy O’Keefe, Brian Trimboli; and Kazim Ali; and a bold, round poem by Gary L. McDowell, “This Summer with Fischl”:
I must repent for this summer I’ve spent beyond creatures,
for they mysteries I’ve seen in a world
that thinks there are none, a world where we’ve named things –
garage, fence, robin, poem – so that we can feel
something when we destroy them.
Denise Duhamel is, well, Denise Duhamel, bringing her uniquely sardonic sensibility (though this piece is considerably less edgy than much of her work) to the journal in the prose poem “I Read”:
the heart beats 100,000 times a day, which leads me to think I could write
a poem 100,000 words long, each word a beat, each beat how I feel about
you. Each word would have two syllables, words mimicking tic-toc, ocean,
thunk-thunk – trochaic, iambic, a few spondees thrown in for when I’m
really pounding. I do the math and realize my potential poem will be 300
pages, no punctuation or sentences, only word after word – and it will
probably take you a whole day to read
Eight fiction writers (Jessica Westhead, Adam Peterson, Teresa Milbrodt, Anne-Marie Kinney, Anthony Varallo, Carl Peterson, George Looney, and Rolf Yngve), whose strength resides largely in their strong and reliable voices, contribute competent stories, including my favorite, “Efendim,” by Yngve. Politically charged but told with restraint, the story was apparently also the editor’s favorite, as it won the magazine’s fiction prize. I must single out Westhead’s “We Are All About Wendy Now,” for her realistic rendering of the work world.
And the ubiquitous Bob Hicok? His offering is “a true story”:
It was a Tuesday, and the word “suddenly”
had become an issue for poets. I was walking
to buy a three-quarter-inch threaded nipple.
The sky was blue and the sun
hard at it. I was considering whistling
“Whistle While You Work” but the thought
made me think of “Arbeit Mach Frei”
written in iron above the gate at Auschwitz.
The issue concludes with a large section of reviews of books from independent and university presses, intelligent and thoughtful analysis and opinions I am inclined to trust.