This issue of the Indiana Review is about one thing: really good reading. An enormous number of very fine poems, seven strong stories, and a handful of well-written and often entertaining book reviews. Poems with special appeal for their careful, poetic (in the best sense of heightened, yet never arch or stiff) or particularly memorable language, and original and never purely self-serving imagery, like poetry contest winner Pilar Gómez-Ibañez (“Losing Bedrock Farm”) who has huge success with Richard Hugo’s inspiring advice “Think Small”; Joanna Klink (“Greenest”) who retrieves many overused and over burdened poetry favorites (rain, stars) from the dead metaphor heap; and Wayne Miller, whose poem in the form of a poetic letter to Auden is striking in its economy and restraint, which results in overwhelming in emotional power:
The City was the wall I lay on,
And the the City
was the voice I spoke into.
Jenny George’s poem “Encyclopedia of the Dead” could easily have been no more than a clever, but inconsequential exercise, is, indeed, quite lovely, evocative, and, ultimately meaningful. As she explains the work: “The language of this poem is taken from a single page of the Encyclopedia Britannica: Vol 2, 1977. The order of words and phrases has been changed. No other words were added.” I liked, too, poems by Emma Bolden (“The Witch’s Daughter Speaks of Her Mother”), Amanda Rachelle Warren (“Backlick Creek”), and a translation of German poet Jürgen Becker’s poem “Oderbruch” by Okla Elliott.
Stories by Dave Madden (“Pamela”) and Kim Addonizio (“Night Owls”) make exceptionally good use of their narrator’s casual, easy-going and youthful voices. “Obit” by Ted Sanders is an inventive tale in every aspect of its presentation, from its columns on the page to the interaction of human animals and non-human animals, a lyrical tale of death told from several perspectives. And there’s more good prose: reviews in this issue are definitely worth taking in, as much on their own merits as to learn about other good reads – strong writing and strong opinions.