Literary Journal Review: Poetry

Reviewed by Katie Cantwell

Poetry | April 2013 | Volume 202, Number 1 | Monthly

Released during National Poetry Month, one might expect the April edition of Poetry to be a bit weightier, coming in at 78 pages long. True to form, however, the magazine packs a punch for a deceptively slim publication. This month’s issue features work from Jane HirshfieldLucie Brock-Broido, and Eavan Boland, with the cover’s art, “City Island,” done by Victor Kerlow.

Four poems of Hirschfield’s are published in this issueOnce IA Chair in Snow, An hour is not a house, and I sat in the sun all carry her trademark imagery and, the last especially, her skill for brevity. 

“I sat in the sun
I moved my chair into sun
I sat in the sun
the way hunger is moved when called fasting.”

A poem of barely three lines, it manages to capture Hirschfield’s skill with imagery and flooring diction. The chair in the sun communicates leisure, a sentiment that’s challenged by the discomfort of hunger. The two feelings are unified by the voluntary moving one’s chair and abstaining from food. 

Another poet featured is Lucie Brock-Broido. Brock-Broido’s poems hold the reader with deceptively simple diction that creates unexpected imagery. Lines feed off of each other to create harsh and heartbreaking lines, like these from Currying the Fallow-Colored Horse:

“How many minutes have I left, the lover asked,
To still be beautiful?”

Currying the Fallow-Colored Horse depicts themes of death and interactions with people around us. Her second poem, Gouldian Kit, is focused on physical imagery, first with hands submerged in water, then on sickness. These combine to mirror the themes of human interaction in Currying the Fallow-Colored Horse, but this time, the poem represents alienation instead of connection through interactions:

“Fever, paranoia, polio (subclinical), ankle-foot phenomenon, 
The possibility of bluish spots. Everything one does is fear
Not being of this world or in this world enough.”

The world is a recurring image in Gouldian Kit, and it contrasts well with Currying the Fallow-Colored Horse’s depictions of mortality. 

Eavan Boland’s poems show the strong influence of her childhood and education in Ireland, The Long Evenings of Their Leavetakings, with imagery of calla lilies and the Irish coastline.

“She said her vows beside a cold seam of the Irish coast.
She said her vows hear the shore where
the emigrants set down their consonantal n:”

Her poems follow a man engraving A Woman Without A Country. Each piece expands the view of a city over water. The theme of Ireland is maintained through each poem, even if only through quick images of Dublin streets or the water of the Irish sea.

Subscribers might remember a section Poetry included in their March issue, “A Few More Don’ts,” in which select writers add their own updates to Ezra Pounds famousA Few Don’ts by an Imagiste,” which was first published in Poetry in March of 1913. This month, Marjorie Perloff, William Logan, and Sina Queyras contribute both observations on Pound and additions to the list in paragraphs and bullet-points. 

One collaboration featured is a Three Books: An Exchange, a back and forth of reviews between Gwyneth Lewis, Michael Lista, and Ange Mlinko. The three dig in to the recently released Lazy Bastardism by Carmine Starnino, On Poetry by Glyn Maxwell, and Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle, delivering on-point analysis and commentary on critical reception that feels like a long distance book club.

This month’s issue of Poetry also includes work from Stephen StepanchevAdam KirschMichael Robbins, Anna Maria HongJ. T. BarbareseRandall MannDean YoungMary Moore EasterJamaal May, and Christina Pugh.

While Poetry has been around since 1912, the magazine has only gotten better. The poets featured range from well known to obscure, and features are consistently new. The design has always been a more minimalist elegant around well-chosen cover art that should not be overlooked. All issues are available for viewing online, but also for purchase in print form.

This review originally appeared on Niche’s website on May 31st, 2013.

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