Our 50th Anniversary Issue, ON ANXIETY, is guest edited by Joe Wenderoth. Featuring poems and essays by Mary Ruefle, Graham Foust, Jamil Jan Kochai, Kitty Liang, Immanuel Mifsud, Amie Zimmerman, Lake Angela, Judy Bertelsen, Laura Brun, Eric Burger, Mike Carlson, Curtis D’Costa, and more. Cover art and design by Abigail Frederick. Check out even more contributors at this week’s Magazine Stand.
This month’s Featured Selection: “Caliche Sand and Clay: Five Albuquerque Poets” with work by and interviews with Jenn Givhan, Felecia Caton Garcia, Michelle Otero, Rebecca Aronson, and Hilda Raz. In Essays & Comment: “It’s Called the Renaissance, You Know, or The Soul Sibling Report” by David Kirby. Fred Marchant reviews Ledger by Jane Hirschfield. See this month’s poetry selections at the Magazine Stand.
This issue is dedicated to Dr. Terry Dalrymple, the founding editor of CRR. It includes fiction by Peter Barlow, Michael Fitzgerald, and others; nonfiction by Michael Cohen, Lucie Barron Eggleston, and more; and poetry by Barbara Astor, Roy Bentley, Jonathan Bracker, Matthew Brennan, Holly Day, Alexis Ivy, Ken Meisel, Alita Pirkopf, Maureen Sherbondy, Travis Stephens, Marc Swan, Loretta Diane Walker, Francine Witte, and more. Find more contributors at the Mag Stand.
This issue features art by Madeline Rile Smith, a visual narrative by Emily Steinberg, and an essay on the art of Jan Powell by Melanie Carden. Also in this issue: short stories by Reilly Joret, Elaine Crauder, Melissa Brook, and Marion Peters Denard; flash by Susan Tacent, Brenna Womer, Michelle Ephraim, Leonard Kress, and others; and poetry by Roy Bentley, Stella Hayes, and more. Find more contributors at the Mag Stand.
Megan Fernandes’ collection Good Boys takes a fresh and brilliant look at the anxieties and violence of our world, as well as the stories we create to accept them. These poems are both vast and personal. In them, I ran in the suburbs, visited Paris, and imagined what I would miss about the earth. Fernandes’ speaker is both vulnerable and bold. She gleans revelation from each new experience, including tarot readings, goat miscarriages, and knocking on the metal of an airplane before taking flight.
In this collection, mythology is an intimate part of the present moment. The speaker imagines herself stuck between Scylla and Charybdis and hears Virgil sing in her ribcage. We are asked to look at our own stories critically: what narratives do we have of our reality, and which of them are true? Which of them are harmful? Fernandes recognizes the stories we condone while unweaving them, and she does so with precision. She writes, “Only white people // can imagine a past / that was better // than now.” In the poem “Regret is a Blue Dive,” the speaker insists, “Things that are brave are often painful,” and wrestles with the possibility of being alone. These poems have an insistent, challenging, and beautiful honesty. They ask us to face uncertainty and let it linger, rather than running away.
Fernandes’ work also gives language to experiences I have previously been unable to name. For example, in her poem “Fabric in Tribeca,” her speaker refers to her sadness as “very adult” because it “will not make a scene” and asks, “Who makes curtains to give their sadness a perimeter?” Fernandes writes that, on earth, “everything is a portrait of gravity.” In every poem, I discovered something new or rediscovered something familiar. I am grateful for Fernandes’ voice and for the company these poems afford me as I move through the world.
Good Boys by Megan Fernandes. Tin House, February 2020.
Reviewer bio: Emily Cinquemani’s poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Ploughshares, Colorado Review, 32 Poems, and Indiana Review. She is a poetry editor for The Adroit Journal.
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The latest issue of The Florida Review includes the writers who placed in the 2019 Editors’ Awards. There are plenty to sink your teeth into.
“Skin the Bunny” by Kirk Wilson
“To Trace the Sky” by Cherie Nelson
“Father-Son & Holy” by Aurielle Marie
“Bridal Suite” by Joanne Dominique Dwyer
“Culture Shock” & “The Cycle” by Lani Yu
“In Loco Parentis” by Eleanor Bluestein
“Americana” by Jennifer Buentello
“All the Guessing Gets Us” by George Looney
“Bedweather” by Angelo R. Lacuesta & Roy Allen Martinez
from “My father is housed inside a whale” by My Tran
There’s even more to check out within this issue, so be sure to grab a copy for yourself.
I love when a poem has visual components, so I was happy to see a couple pieces by Ryan Mihaly in the Summer 2020 issue of The Massachusetts Review with visual accompaniment.
“[B]” and “[A♯/B♭]” are paired with clarinet fingering charts. In “[B],” the speaker looks back at “a catalogue of embarrassments,” which are broken down and pointed out on the chart as “Wrong name,” “Loss of language,” and “Failed elegance.” “[A♯/B♭]” explores language and communication, finishing, “Music is not a language because it cannot be translated into anything. It can only be described. A♯, then, is the word ‘handiwork’ mispronounced ‘hand-eye-work.’” The chart above shows a corresponding “Hand,” “Eye,” and “Work.”
While both poems would work just fine without the visual aspect, their presence is still welcome and enhances each piece, the text almost working as a footnote to guide the reader through the charts.
Magazine Review by Katy Haas
I may be an atheist, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Liz Bruno’s poem in the latest issue of The Cape Rock. “Jesus, The Original Disney Princess” compares the religious figure to the familiar cartoon girls of our youth. I found the comparison to be lighthearted and sweet, the connections between Jesus and the girls clear. They’re all “Westernized beauty queen[s],” with “endless magic.” They teach “girls and boys to dream big and look pretty” and are friends with animals, are critics of the bourgeois, and rise above their humble beginnings.
A new and different take on the familiar religious figure, Bruno creates an endearing poem with an eye-catching title.
“The Ritual of Smoking” by Rhonda Zimlich
“Dear You” by Fay Dillof
“Arbor Day” by Rebecca Timson
This year’s contest judges were Daisy Hernández (nonfiction), Ellen Doré Watson (poetry), and Ladee Hubbard (fiction). Visit Dogwood’s website for a celebration of each of the winners with words from the judges and bios for the winning writers.
Ginny Sassaman knows happiness! As a co-founder of Gross National Happiness USA and a participant in the national Happiness Walk, she’s been studying the subject for many years.
Her approach in these marvelous sermons is both personal and social—she knows we need to change both our behaviors and some of the policies that wreak havoc on our planet, which is actually making us less happy. She doesn’t shy away from the tougher questions. I especially like her sermon on beauty, an issue of quality of life that has been too often ignored in happiness research, surveys, and action.
In chapter fourteen, “The Extraordinary Value of Everyday Beauty,” Sassaman writes about a friend who took her own life; how that friend had collected objects of beauty as a way of mitigating her pain:
“Mandy may have carried more pain than most, but, just as all flowers need the sun, all humans need beauty. Piero Ferrucci, whose book on kindness is like a happiness bible for me, has written another invaluable text: Beauty and the Soul: The Extraordinary Power of Everyday Beauty to Heal Your Life. Ferrucci insists that beauty, far from being frivolous, is a primal need. ‘Beauty,’ he writes, ‘is not like a distant satellite, but like a sun that gives life and light to all areas of our life.’”
This is just one example of how Sassaman combines thoughtful stories and research in her sermons. I found great value in all of them and I think you, dear reader, will too. Don’t miss this book!
Preaching Happiness: Creating a Just and Joyful World by Ginny Sassaman. Rootstock Publishing, May 2020.
Reviewer Bio: John de Graaf is an author, filmmaker, speaker and activist. He is a co-founder of The Happiness Alliance and co-author of the bestselling book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic.
Guest Post by Leland Davidson
You are not a politician, but self-made through hard work. You are not political and don’t fancy politics and prefer a life of content over luxury. Then the president of the United States himself has asked you to become the head of a government subcommittee, which is supposed to help the nation’s safety and better the country that you live in.
However, through digging and fact-finding, you discover this committee is sponsored by a giant and powerful company that is buying off politicians and absorbing other markets such as the media and weapon manufacturing. Trevayne was written in 1973 by Robert Ludlum on the heels of the Watergate scandal. But in a way, this book is more relevant in our modern-day situation involving the privatization of the United States of America. Companies and powerful families such as Koch and DeVos. Add on corporations like Facebook, Amazon, and Raytheon, which have since majorly impacted our democracy, and we see a cautionary tale in this book written nearly 50 years ago.
In this book Andrew Trevayne has a choice to stop this corporation from completely taking over the country and influencing all its decisions, or assimilate with it, thus shaping the future United States in the same manner we are seeing today. Trevayne can be seen as a fictional and nonfictional example as the United States is more of a business and money opportunity for the rich than for the working class who truly shape the nation.
Trevayne by Robert Ludlum. Delacorte Press, 1973.
Reviewer bio: Leland Davidson, a native of East Tennessee, holds an M.A. in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence from Heller School at Brandeis University, 2020.
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