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Posts Tagged ‘Toby Lurie’


There are a whole raft of magazines whose concerns are different from the academic, “highest literary quality” magazines that make up such a large presence in American poetry – thank goodness for the variety. I am thinking not only of such outfits as the haiku magazines, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Mayfly and so on, nor only of the genre magazines that publish speculative poetry, Asimov’s and Strange Horizons among them, but even straight-no-chaser mainstream poetry — such places as Blue Collar Review, Main Street Rag, Avocet, and this week’s mag, Iconoclast. These latter do not concern themselves nearly as much with the arch, original phrase, nor the breathtaking technique, but with the honesty of the observation, the truth of the language, the power of the emotion. It gives our poetry strength that such places exist. And so it is with the poems in the current issue.

The first poem I’ll discuss is “Save Me From The Self-Appointed Saints,” by Michael Ketchek. Maybe one important aspect of these sorts of poems, of this one in particular, is the self-recognition of the reader in the poem: “better the gentle sinner / than the righteous do-gooder…” this poem begins, and I’m like, right-on. I feel less alone in the universe because of poems like this. “let my path not intersect / with those who are sure / their bullets have rainbows…” How apropos after this last week’s events. How reassuring to know this urge for supporting each other, not dividing from each other, is out there and growing as well. Magazines like this give us such reassurance.

And then Beth Staas did a good job with her discussion of living with illegals, “Streets Paced With Gold.”

I liked “Toaster,” by David Martin Orloff. “Some days it was all we had to eat.” And the revelation that comes at the end. “much later…my sister / informed me…the toaster we had as a kid was nothing more than…” We need such plainspoken revelations of the world (I ain’t giving away what the toaster was, though, go buy the mag!) that the world we thought we knew as children can change, that surprises can happen years later and give us understanding of our family or the people around us that we never had before. Good poem.

I liked “A Trio,” by Toby Lurie. It was a bit experimental, and because of its structure delivered its message in a poignant way a more conventional stanza structure may have failed to succeed at. A poem about loneliness, the emptiness surrounding us, and how we can get beyond that.

There are too many poems in the magazine to mention them all, but I also want to call out a shout out for “Teenage Boy, Bad at Flowers,” by Bill Meissner (didn’t we all feel like this once upon a time) and “Corporate Casualties,” by Brady Rhoades “two hundred sick days / unused” — such a sense of betrayal, powerfully conveyed — and finally “Mandell,” by Brady Rhoades “When the time comes, I want to / disappear like the Cheshire Cat.”

Peace in poetry,

P M F Johnson

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