Thursday, February 22, 2007

Every poem in this journal did something for me, even the two of thirteen I don't much want to go back to. There have been issues of the New York Review of Books in which every poem succeeded, and I've been surprised a few times lately by journals where more than half of the poems got through to me. But a literary journal hitting it or coming close every time? If it's happened to you lately, tell me about it.

I take my hat off to Sycamore Review poetry editors Laura Donnelly and Gretchen Steele -- even the purely literary pieces, poems in conversation with historical figures (Linnaeus! Picasso! Tsvetaeva, even), the poems with dogs, rain, fish, birds, dead family... everything works.
For my father, who worked
without waders through the afternoon, grappling
toward their slick, sharp bodies with bare hands,
who twice swallowed pond scum, twice
lost a shoe to the suction of sludge, and once
fell prone in the mire -- a seven pound catfish
with skin-piercing fins cradled in his arms.

--Cindy May Murphy,
from "For My Father, Who Fears I'm Going to Hell"
Every poem is this visceral, loaded with the raw data of the senses, of the psychic freight of human relationships, and often too of the gradually-revealed impact of historical forces. There are the cognitive beauties of understanding and misunderstanding, and the linguistic sparkles of unexpected phrases, such as "carbons of fall," "an ant's abdomen," "oranges overheating," "cockroach moustache," I could go on.

There are so many journals publishing, and to that fact the attitude of the world will always be indifference. And as for the poets, publishing wherever, barely giving their poems' neighbors a look before filing the contributors copies on the coffee table, in the bankers box, sending them off to the folks, whatever -- there's a word for that behavior and it's not kind. But I'll leave off scolding, and simply mention that if you are within driving distance of a book superstore you can probably get your hands on a copy of Volume 19 Issue 1 of the Sycamore Review today.

Bonus: The issue features an interview with Natalie and Drew of Natalie Dee and Toothpaste for Dinner.

Jordan - #




I'm Jordan Davis.
I write a lot.
I mention it here.

Say hi: jordan [at] jordandavis [dot] com.

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