Monday, December 11, 2006

MAR Is on the Hunt!

This, from Karen Craigo. I like it when editors include something from thier journal that they like:

Hello from Mid-American Review!

So ... what's going on around here? Well, we recently finished our new issue, which features some intriguing work by many newcomers to MAR. Some of my favorite works in this issue include the winning works in our annual Fineline Competition (congratulations to Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis for her winning prose entry, "Fish-Eye"), as well as our latest poetry chapbook section, this time by Erin Gay of Syracuse, New York. Here's a snippet of her poem, "Portrait of My Love as a Baguette":

We had more bread than we could eat. We had enough bread to build a house and then stack a wall around it so that the neighbors could not see our lovemaking. We had so much bread that we walked around town and gave every beggar a loaf, and when there was still bread left in our bag, we tore it into pieces to feed the funny-looking gulls, and after the gulls were full we carved the loaves into little boats that drifted off into the bay. ...

It's compelling work, I think, and a good example of the type of intriguing prose and poetry to be found in our current issue. For more excerpts, please visit our website,


Craigo's addition of the snippet has done its work on me. I'm interested now in seeing the rest of the poem. I like its light touch. I like that it follows an imaginative arc . . . and how it lets itself have its lightness with the speaker's afternoon with an overpacked picnic.

This gets me to thinking, about how we decide to read imagined poetry. The way this poem imagines around a strong center. The subject is maintained. The poem goes to surreal, absurd lengths, but the focus is clear. It reminds me of the poetry of Claire Bateman in this way.

On the other hand, there's the imagined poetry of someone like John Ashbery (well, I must talk about Ashbery at least once a month or I'll be kicked out of the club) which is famous for its perceived discontinuity. I say perceived because it’s not always as discontinuous as some readers would have it seem. But that argument is for another day.

Why is it that some readers can sign on for the obvious flights of a poem like this, but won’t go with a poet like Ashbery, or say, Richard Meier, whose wonderful shelly gave jane a guitar (Wave, 2006) I’m currently rereading?

The opening poem is called “The Schedule”:

The Schedule

In the brush I found an oak, and sat beneath a chair.
The wife without the sign was in my mind,
the difference between being and having
has always plagued me, and the capillary action
of the air lifting darkness from the grasses.
The light doesn’t change; it is defeated.
At the end of a long vagina, the constellations
tell their secrets. I’m stupid with seasons,
as the seasons are stupid with snow or flowers
or seeds in November, whatever they’re given. The hair shirt
of love or power greets the day’s razor
to stimulate the clouds. The test is scheduled
for every last bucket, with the last time they parted, the words and the lips,
so we could watch our going. Walking backwards is monstrous
and enormous you told me, long ago, before I knew you.

For me, this is enormously profitable play with all things Romantic Poetry, and the idea of love poetry . . . in much the way that Erin Gay seems to be playing with (from a snippet it's hard to tell) the afternoon semi-pastoral "I did this / I did that" poem.

I’m not placing this poem here to compare it with Erin Gay's snipped from MAR, but it’s just that looking at the light surrealism of “Portrait of My Love as a Baguette,” got me to thinking about the arc of contemporary American poetry. Why some poets are published in Volt and not in Mid-American Review. Why some poets are published in New Letters and some in jubilat. This is not a new thought, nor a deep thought. But there’s this feeling I’m having this morning about poetry, that there’s remarkable value in the things some of us aren’t seeing if we only read a couple journals.

This is why I usually don’t like Poetry Magazine. They rarely deviate from a certain kind of poem (but when they do it's quite welcome, and many of my friends and favorite writers have published in Poetry, I'm not knocking its inclusions, just its exclusions). That seems reductive to me. That is why I maintain that Field is the best journal in America, because it publishes a wider range of poets that most any other journal. Even if one of my favorite poets, Michael Palmer, is not represented in that number (that I know of . . . I could be wrong).

So anyway, all this just gets us back to the email from Karen Craigo, and MAR:

In other news ...

Submissions Wanted

Our next issue, the spring 2007 issue, is due out in March, and submissions are currently being considered. Now is a great time to send work, as our printing deadlines are approaching and we still have many pages to fill. Note that MAR's editors read year-round, and we welcome simultaneous submissions. We would really appreciate your submissions, if you can find some time during your busy holiday season to send.


At 12/12/2006 11:58 AM, Blogger Steven D. Schroeder said...

The obvious answer why people might sign on for A and not B is that A is definitely surrealism-lite given its higher degree of apparent internal coherence (not to say the other is actually incoherent) and simple restatability ("fun with bread"). Not to say this is right, but I'd assume it's why for a majority who would go along with A but not B.

At 12/12/2006 1:53 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I agree. But it depresses me.

Not to say anything against the first poem (it seems perfectly enjoyable to me, I would have published it as well), but it depresses me in general, how . . .

I'm trailing off. How what?

How the influence of a method of knowing is everywhere evident, but only as an echo?

That's not it either. I'll sit and think more. Maybe I'll come up with a theme topic.


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