The editor’s note of this issue of Blue Collar Review reads, “We must not allow ourselves to become demoralized or cynical because to do so would be suicide. As poets, we must reclaim our culture and its narrative of community, solidarity and social conscience, recognizing the power of culture in defining our identity and vision.”
In our current political and cultural climate, this issue of the Blue Collar Review reads as especially urgent and timely. The work in the issue says what it means and means what it says. The poems are straight-forward and without nuance, but they offer glimpses into a wide range of blue collar perspectives.
For example, there’s Neal Zirn’s energetic “Working Early,” which offers a glimpse into the routine of two milkmen who complete their deliveries while most people are asleep:
It’s 4 am on Saturday morning,
summertime, milk bottles rattling
in their metal cages. My door is
an accordion, like those on school buses.
And the air outside has the promise
of sandlots, girls in peddle pushers,
and long rides in the country.
Judith Robbins’s “The Morning After Payday” is a more elegiac take on the blue collar life, recounting memories of a life lived from paycheck to paycheck:
How much money is left? she asked,
I rummaged through my father’s pockets,
the wallet empty, but two dollars
and ten cents in the pants.
And, as one might expect, there are plenty of poems of protest, like “Ace of Pentacles” by J.T. Whitehead:
People with money
are funny, honey.
Give one of them
an outdated 8-horse team
& he thinks he owns speed
The back cover of the issue features this quote from Adrienne Rich: “Write as if your life depended on it; write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public the words you have dredged; sieved up in dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence—words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist.”
It’s a quote that sums up not just the purpose of a publication like Blue Collar Review, but also why a journal this is worthy of being read.