shufPoetry’s logo represents the work the magazine brings to its audience: colorful graffiti splashed across a computer screen. The Fall 2016 issue brings together a collection of visual and audio work that draws the reader’s eye (and ear) and keeps interest through flashes of color and creative formats.
Lorna Wood’s three pieces are all strong on their own but become even stronger as a cohesive collection, using descriptions of food products as the bulk of her text. In “Can 4,” an audio piece, she mixes a description of canned chicken brisket with repeated snippets from a porn video, an overload on the auditory senses until a reader is not sure if Wood is reading about chicken or women’s bodies. In “Can 6,” a current, relevant concrete poem in the form of an American flag, Wood combines Trump’s infamous “make america great again” with Pet Pride dogfood complete with choice ingredients of acid and artificiality, “Guaranteed pride” promised.
Marcia Arrieta’s three pieces are scribbled on the subscription inserts from different magazines. Looking almost like scrapped doodles done during a long phone call (unsubscribing from the magazines?), Arrieta’s work begs a closer look. We notice “Sometimes”—which begins “sometimes / we do not speak”—appears on an insert for “Islands,” the speaker on an island, separate from the other half of “we” in their silence. Reading almost feels like decoding a secret message.
Other pieces in this issue contain a similar feeling: like we’re deciphering the hidden messages of the writers. This includes work by Joel Chace with three “Selections From Culled Rain.” A mesh of sheet music, scribbles, and scraps of writing Chace’s work drags readers down a rabbit hole as we try to decide where to start and how to connect the different elements.
Then there are more straight forward formats, like Aaron Bauer’s blackout poems, his two-word untitled piece strong in its silences. Richard Baldasty collages strips of text and images, “But I’m Often Wrong” made up of different fonts and text sizes, begging the eye to explore. J.I. Kleinberg tears apart paper to create a different kind of erasure poem, “floating in the catacombs” stark and beautiful, something I wouldn’t mind seeing framed on a wall.
But among my favorites this issue were the audio and video pieces. “Wanderlust” by L.A. Riquez and Malinda Prudhomme bursts with color and art and language, the spoken poetry moving to the beat of music and the woman wandering on screen. In Joe Marchia’s “Even Magic Can Be Learned,” a robotic voice rattles off poetry over an 80’s sounding beat, reminding me of old science videos and close-ups of cells. Hearing a robotic voice devoid of emotion reading poetry, often full of emotion, is a strange effect which lead me to listen again and again.
A.J. Rocca and Micah Tuhy's “Hope Measured in Inches” sounds like a clip taken from an intro to a southern film, voice twanging and crickets chirping over music:
Mama had to mostly trust Jesus with the garden,
due to unreasonable water rates.
The summer drought had her tomatoes on the brink,
the rain-gauge dry as desert sand,
and empty of all but expectation.
If you close your eyes as you listen, you can almost imagine a camera panning over plains, thirsty garden plants, a woman standing with hands on her hips beside her tomatoes, crucifix dangling at her collar.
With the Fall 2016 issue, shufPoetry gives writers and readers a place to experiment and explore. A showcase of creativity and imagination, shuf promises to surprise and delight.