In conversation with Jonathan Bate about Stephan Fry’s book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within and the value of poetic form, Stephan Fry encouraged writers to “Just try out writing in that form. I think people will amaze themselves when they do that.” For writers willing to explore new forms and challenge their development of craft, and for readers who appreciate seeing the variety of poetic expertise that a single form can produce, Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor is your next stop.
Developed in August 2020, the cadralor is a portmanteau of the names of the two co-creators of this poetic form, Christopher Cadra and Lori Howe. The rules of the form are explained on Gleam’s website, but in brief, this is a five-stanza poem with each stanza containing a consistent number of lines, up to ten, and each stanza able to stand alone as a complete poem. It cannot be narrative, though the stanzas should be contextually related. They must be imagist, vivid poems without cliché that are “a feast for the senses.” The fifth stanza acts as the crucible “illuminating the gleaming thread (Thus, the ‘gleam’ in the name.) that runs through the entire poem,” pulling the poem “into a coherence as a kind of love poem,” and answering the compelling question, “for what do you yearn?” The poem does not need to be a traditional love poem, as the editors explain, “Yearning takes many forms,” but it is characteristic that a “successful cadralor end on a note of hope rather than hopelessness.”
Poets ready to tackle the form can expect their work to be well received by seasoned writers who want to engage the community in a supportive way. Editor in Chief Lori Howe is author of two books of poetry, Cloudshade, Poems of the High Plains, and Voices at Twilight, was Executive Editor of Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers, and formerly Editor in Chief of Clerestory: Poems of the Mountain West, and Open Window Review. She holds an MFA in Poetry from University of Wyoming, where she is also Professor. Founding Editor, Christopher Cadra is a poet/writer whose work has appeared in The Cimarron Review and elsewhere. His criticism has appeared in Basalt and a journal he edited, The Literati Quarterly.
Publishing two to three issues per year, Gleam accepts submissions via email, and, as Howe points out, “We offer a great deal of feedback on submissions, and often offer ‘revise and resubmit’ options, which we believe is somewhat rare among poetry journals. We do this because the form is both new and especially challenging to embody. We like to encourage poets to keep working on cadralor until they get there.”
There is a growing list of contributors whose cadralor have arrived to provide readers “the finest examples of this form anywhere in the world,” including Louise Barden, Rachel Barton, Robert Beveridge, Susan Cole, Kate Copeland, Jane Dougherty:, Scott Ferry, Malcolm Glass, Joanna Grisham, Georgia Hertz, Marie Marchand, Bob McAfee, Julia Paul, Charlotte Porter, Nick Reeves, Michelle Rochniak, Anastasia Vassos, Sherre Vernon, Sterling Warner, Ingrid Wilson, and Jonathan Yungkans.
In starting this new form as well as taking it onto a public platform, Howe shares, “My greatest joy is in reading submissions of cadralor from all over the world and discovering that this form is being taught in MFA poetry workshops around the country.”
As Cadra and Howe state, Gleam is THE flagship journal for the new poetic form, the cadralor, and the plan is for it to continue to hold that well-deserved place in our literary community.