Avatar Review, an online annual, “seeks to display the highest quality of writing,” as all do. And while I cannot claim that what is published in this issue is the cream of the crop, there is plenty worth consideration and worthy of merit, including poetry, prose, art, and reviews.
Britt Melewski’s “On the Overnight” came with an audio recording of him reading his poem, which enhanced the feeling of the overall poem, especially his last few lines: “saying, ‘remember the absolute worst of times, / remember the fish, the fish, the fish.’” It is interesting to listen and follow along because it reads slightly differently than it is printed; perhaps it’s a different version, but it makes it feel more alive, a little more freely adaptable. Such as when Danny Earl Simmons varies the line from his poem “as the passion of missing someone even one-minute too long” to “one-second too long,” giving even more severity to the feeling.
One poem I would have liked to hear recorded is Diane Lockward’s “From the Virgin, In Her Own Time” to hear the sounds of
a tasty tidbit
vulnerable to danger—beaks of birds,
claws of cats, tongues of snakes.
Tender and salty, my treasure’s vaulted,
the arched walls tinted red.
And while there was use of some of the commonplace images of virginity/sexuality (“will open like a flower, my petals parting” and “like a compliant oyster my precious pearl”), it was still very creative and original.
Elania Mercatoris’s “What Burns” was probably my favorite in the bunch, starting, “Today I held my first dead octopus.” It’s a topic and image I have never read before, so points for originality. And these lines are just perfect:
Every forty or so
whacks, I stopped, rubbed her stiff against the rock
in a circle. White foam seeped out of her
like hand soap or the laundry detergent
I used to wash my clothes this morning.
She contributes four more poems, also relating in some way or another to the sea, which all deserve recognition and reflection.
Some of the prose pieces felt a little weak, a stranding together of events from memory rather than just fleshing out the more important scenes. However, in Helen Rossiter’s “Blinded Off,” the stakes are high, and it’s not just because it’s the longest poker game in the world, “going without a break for eight years, six months and two days.” The narrator also has his wife to consider.
That being said, I leaned more toward the poetry than the prose in this issue, and there is certainly plenty there to spend time with.