Good week for contributor's copies
Spring is my favorite season. Always has been. Of course, I grew up in Alabama, where spring starts in February (and winter is a long weekend or so in January). Admittedly, this has been maybe the mildest of all possible Michigan winters, but it's still nice to be walking around in short sleeves again.
And one of the newfound joys of the season? Spring issues of literary journals start showing up in the mailbox. This week brought three new issues of journals that were kind enough to feature my work: Barbaric Yawp 16.1, Yemassee 18.1&2, and Poet Lore 107.1/2. Always a pleasure to see new writing show up with the afternoon mail.
This is the second time I've had work in Poet Lore, and I am thrilled to be part of such a good journal. Dozens of poems in here, too many good ones to single them all out. I notice that many of the early poems seem to be about issues of boyhood and male identity and maybe fatherhood: "I wished for a hammer / more than I wished for a father," writes Dara Barnatt. Josh Rothkamp's "Read with Dick and Jane," which opens the journal, ends with his daughter forced to "break the box of her smile in half / to land in the arms of a man / no better than her father." Anya Silver writes in "Junior Assembly" about the segregation of boys and girls in the school parking lot during a fire alarm: "... the boys, shut out again, threw / imaginary balls at an imaginary net." James Scruton's excellent poem "Bang Bang" is about the power of playing guns.
There are also lots of dying parents in this issue of Poet Lore, and history and music and place and religion. Denise Duhamel and Maxine Kumin and Richard Robbins have poems here, and Afaa Michael Weaver and Jim Tilley and Melissa Morphew. So much to read. I'll give the last words here to the final line from Michelle Turner's terrific (and seasonally appropriate) poem "March Equinox": "I am my own best offering. It lasts but a moment. Call it a minute."
My most favoritest poem in this new Barbaric Yawp is the fun piece "Applesauce" by Michael Keshigan. It's a witty re-telling of the Adam and Eve story. Other highlights from this issue include "Comfort of his Arms" by Ann Howell and the raucous "Her Vagina Can Bench-Press More Than Your Vagina," by Nancy Henry, which totally reminds me of the song "Eight Miles Wide" by Storm Large.
Yemassee is another journal chock-full o' reading goodness. My Grand Valley colleague Chris Haven has a killer haibun-like poem in here called "Red Pear, Washed": "Three drops of water / cling to a red pear / like a Braille letter." Mark Wagenaar's "Nail Bed Gospel" is a gripping piece.
The issue includes the journal's prize-winners from its prose and poetry contests. Ray McManus picked the poetry winners, and all three pieces he singled out for recognition are political, timely, memorable pieces: Anna Sutton's "City Planning," Rachel Andoga's "Supporting the War Effort" and Marc Johnston's "reconnaissance."