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Blueline - 2011

  • Issue Number: Volume 32
  • Published Date: 2011
  • Publication Cycle: Annual

Blueline describes itself as a "literary magazine dedicated to the spirit of the Adirondacks." Like many regionally-themed publications based in scenic areas, it includes a big helping of traditionally conceived nature poetry, most of it in competently handled free verse. Poets submitting to Blueline obviously find nature to be a source of beauty, interest and anthropomorphic imagery. Kathleen E. Schneider, for example, writes of digging mica fragments from a steep hillside and holding them out "like precious shards of broken glory." Georganna Millman writes a tongue-in-cheek account of a day in the life of crows, who, in late morning "beat it to the trees / hanging over Elk Creek / henpecking an old owl / where she hides."

Lyn Lifshin makes an edgier use of nature imagery, finding a metaphor for "what I wanted and / what was" in ice crystals held in the palm that "no / thing alive can / hold or make stay." Robyn Art pushes nature poetry even closer to the edge with her "Partial List of Things That Happen All at Once," a prose poem that begins: "snow, forgetting my user name, loitering in the parking lot of the Big Box Store; the wombat filmed in its indigenous clime, cabin doors with no locks (Woman Alone: do not pull to the shoulder)."

Other poets who bring freshness to the nature genre include Sandra Kohler, David Giannini, Linda Batt, Jane Ellen Glasser, Mary Kathryn Jablonski, Joshua Michael Stewart, and Jeffrey C. Alfier. Also of interest is Mike Freeman's essay recounting part of his canoe trip down most of the Hudson River. Wildness is returning to the Hudson, despite humans' worst efforts, Freeman writes: "I was glad of it, but crawled into my bag, content that this wilderness is available, but with an exit. We belonged here once, seamless and savage, but don't now, and have never recovered from that weaning."

For my money, the best piece of writing in the issue is Jacob White's darkly comedic short story, "Wolf Among Wolves." White eases into the story with half a paragraph about a tricky piece of road between Ithaca and Trumansburg, where the narrator's sister lives. Then he sets the hook: "Last time I drove up there was February. Clare called saying she'd killed her husband Pete. I told her call an ambulance and pulled on a coat over my pajamas, not without some worry over the drive." From that point the story is a gory, Gothic, surreal romp, reminiscent of Mark Twain's tall tales and Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying." Subscribe to the magazine just for that.

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Review Posted on October 19, 2011

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