Formal Poetry with The MacGuffin

Magazine Review by Katy Haas.

The Fall 2020 issue of The MacGuffin is the Formal Poetry Issue featuring 43 formal poems. The issue is introduced by retiring Poetry Editor Carol Was. Sonnets, pantoums, villanelles, quatrains, and more make up the poetry portion of the issue.

Among these is “Coyote in Town,” a sestina by Marla Kay Houghteling. The speaker wakes one night to see a coyote through their window in the city, their new home not as removed from the “wild / watchers” as they once thought. This poem reads easily, both the reader and the speaker stalked by wildness and shadows throughout the piece.

In Terry Blackhawk’s villanelle “No Callous Shell,” the poetry speaks to Conrad Hilberry and wonders if she can even write a villanelle. This is a fun, good-humored poem that felt relatable thinking back to my own questionable attempts at penning a form poem.

The poets in this issue, however, have all done a great job of taking on form poems, introducing me to forms I was unfamiliar with and serving inspiration to maybe try my own hand at writing one again.

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