This volume features the first-, second-, and third-place winners of the Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest and the Sheldon Currie Fiction Contest, as well as poems, fiction, and book reviews from other writers. The first line of Jennifer Houle’s first poem – “I don’t listen much for birds” – sets the tone of the issue by inviting the reader to look for birds and every manifestation of the flighty or strange, both in this poem and throughout the rest of the issue.
The otherworld in elegant finery appears in Eve Joseph’s poem “Stranger,” when a “woman who came close to death” glances out her window and sees “a man in a black coat and top hat . . . sitting in a tree swinging his feet.” In Emily Carr’s poem “honeymoon (v.),” the character becomes her own alien self, illegally drugged, pregnant, with a doctor writing her “on paper” while she sits “buck / naked under the watery blue / gown.” And in Sheila McClarty’s fiction piece “A German Shepherd, A Natural Redhead and A Yellow Scarf,” mysterious fears grip Eleanor, who “always stands facing the firing squad, waiting for the bullet.”
But the Review turns from death toward a resurrection in this volume’s one essay, “The Manuscripts of Montague Summers, Revisited,” by Gerard O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan traces the history of Montague Summers, a priest “known internationally for his erudite if sometimes idiosyncratic editions and histories of Restoration dramas, studies of the gothic novel, and often sensational writings on witchcraft, demonology, and the occult.” Summers’s manuscripts had been lost, but O’Sullivan reveals both the story of Summers and of the now-recovered manuscripts.
This volume of The Antigonish Review repeatedly verifies realities of every kind, from nearly tangible images of death and the strange to the certainty of a life lived. My favorite lines from this issue are in Rod Weatherbie’s poem “The Pugilist”: “‘Nothing real can fall apart,’ / she said while fingering / the cracked leather of the bench.”