The Fall 2016 issue of Copper Nickel from the University of Colorado Denver features poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and folios of works in translation. All the contributions are worth noting for the broad range of talent and skill, beginning with the variety of poetry, which is definitely of the quality we expect from this selection of experienced poets.
While there are always many techniques and approaches to comment on, the imagery is particularly striking throughout this collection.
There is Jennifer Atkinson’s “White”:
Under the weight of wet snow
a dead branch broke and fell,
I remember, taking the hornets’
tattered gray lantern down with it.
What if I’d stood the branch
upright in a drift and set the nest
on fire, a moment’s torch—orange
mark against the white white air, . . .
And then there is Jeff Hardin’s “This Thing That Has Happened”:
are placing children into texts,
dropping them from great heights,
washing them up on shores
where adults walk,
finding them in remote places where killers
thought no one, for generations, if ever,
The translation folios feature poems by Grzegorz Wróblewski and three prose pieces by Shoba (Nebojsa Seric). Our introduction to these two excellent European artists is an entertaining balance to the other fine works in this issue of Copper Nickel.
Wróblewski’s poetry is not the traditional “Polish school” writing to which most readers of modern work are accustomed. Nor would I consider it “contemporary.” Even though the four pieces here are from early in his career, they evoke the response of experimental underground rather than mainstream poetry.
I asked a certain astronomer
what makes him so afraid
(he peed on his mattress)
he replied it was a question of
Shoba’s contribution, even though he resides in New York, focuses on European experiences, particularly in Sarajevo in the latter 20th Century. The effect of his work as a visual and performance artist is readily evident in the descriptive and detailed nature of his writing. While the stories are best described as “nostalgic,” many of the events and experiences can be readily identified as part of our own life. While there is introspection, it isn’t anything that we ourselves might not have thought at some time in our lives. In “The Test,” we are reminded how:
I was already spinning out scenarios of studying for the make-up exam and the long hot summer I would have to spend with some tutor, who, exasperated by my inability to concentrate, would nag me relentlessly while all the other kids played right outside my window. I would go mad because of all the missed cartoons and cowboy movies, the missed games, missed bicycle rides.
The choices of modern fiction include short pieces from George Brookings, Evelyn Somers, Dan Mancilla, and Liz Wyckoff. Wyckoff’s story, “Like This, Like That,” starts with a perspective of a grad student’s relationship with her mother, and the effect that parental hopes have on their children.
What do you want? My voice is not echoing, I realize—Janie and Melissa are screaming it, too. We are all in the apartment, in our separate rooms, shouting at the small boxes of wires and circuits that have been transmitting our mothers’ voices into our ears. Or are those voices are own?
The images and reflections in the works Mancilla, Somers, and Brookings are equally engaging and of no less quality.
Nonfiction authors include Anuradha Bhowmik, Ursula Brooks, and Traci Brimhall. Each of their writings is done in the journal style which I call “thought burst.” An unusual, almost abstract memory or episode is generated for us and engages our minds to build the continuity of idea and life shaping events that might be recognized from our own journeys and night dreams. Samples would not suffice here.
Overall, this issue of Copper Nickel is a generous collection that can satisfy the broadest of tastes and leave the readers interested in finding more from each author.