Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Poems and Plays

Day 85 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project. I am reading Poems & Plays, because I'm in it! I do love to have poems in a literary journal, because then, when the contributor copy arrives, I get to read poems and stories and essays by all the other writers in it, too, or, in this case, poems and plays!

Yesterday's entry included a gushing of lush spring beauty, and this one must include a gushing of praise for both the contents and the cover of this issue. You see the gorgeous roses, but this is full summer's lush beauty, fading and wilting, after being cut and enjoyed indoors in glass. Oh, the gorgeous dripping of the helpless petals. Ah, vanitas!

In fact, vanitas seems to be shedding the only light on the subject of roses, by way of a pull chain! This cover is a painting by Barry Buxkamper called Vanitas: Flora (2009, watercolor on paper), and I hope it is OK to reproduce it here! (I guess he or the Poems & Plays editor, Gaylord Brewer, will let me know if it isn't, but generally people want to get magazine covers out there to entice people to buy the magazine! And/or the painting! Which, if I could afford it, I would buy! is possible to buy paintings over time. I remember a young woman bought one of my husband's paintings over 5 years, in faithful random installments! And I bought one of Lauren Levato's paintings that way, thanks to an arrangement with Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, where it was exhibited. All is not vanitas! One can enjoy beauty, and find meaning in it! And have I mentioned how much I love watercolor?--the perfect medium for these fading petals, this blurry light...sigh....)

Anyhow, now to gush on the book inside the cover. I was delighted to find one of my poems, "Excursion into Poetry," across the way from James Doyle, "Meeting Under the Streetlight," a sly, sexy poem that ends in a delightful faithfulness. We took some James Doyle poems for RHINO, back when I was an editor there, and I also got to review his book, Einstein Considers a Sand Dune (Steel Toe Books, 2004). His wife, Sharon Doyle, is also a wonderful poet!

Poems by Albert Haley--"The Bottom Line Is" and "Reduction in Force"--work not only as poems but also as social criticism, and the man fired ("crucified") in "Reduction in Force" reminds me of all those people who lost their jobs in the U.S. recently, and on the big screen in Up in the Air. Likewise, Suzanne Roberts let us imagine "Apocalypse at the Safeway," with its looting of exotic vegetables.

As the title tells us, this journal also carries short plays, so we have The Crucifixion of Moe and Ira, a 10-minute play by Lynn-Steven Johanson, and Geek, by Crystal Skillman, which takes place at a comic book convention.

And Poems & Plays publishes within it the winner of the annual Tennessee Chapbook Prize, this year, The Hard Grammar of Gratitude, by Judith Sornberger, which indeed finds many hard things to be grateful for, because life isn't easy.

I had picked up my mail as I headed to work the other day when this issue arrived, so I showed it to my boss, who said, "Oh, William Trowbridge! I know him," about one of the contributors. I leave you with a couplet, the opening image, from his poem, "A Small Bouquet of Poets":

Here's Roethke: big pink
peony bouncing in the breeze.

Because peonies are in bud and will be bouncing in the breeze very soon!

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

And, of course, the EDITOR picked all these things and put them together, fabulously!