I’ve come back to poetry twice in my life. The earliest near-poem of mine is a short lyric I wrote about a shrubbery when I was 10 years old for a fifth grade English class. A childhood friend posted it with several others by our classmates on her Facebook feed several years ago. I don’t recall poetry being part of my life after that until maybe 20 years later, when I walked away from the soul-numbing world of business and computer consulting for several years to pursue a graduate degree in creative writing. Poetry took an essential role in my life over the next few years, until circumstances led to a 10 year drought without lifting a pen to paper, until finally, to survive, I needed the crucial beauty of poetry once again. This time, full immersion for short periods of time became the only practical way for me to pursue my writing, so for several years I ventured around the country, from New York, to Michigan, to West Virginia, to Florida and elsewhere, to poetry seminars, conferences, festivals, and even AWP. It became the way I connected, progressed, networked, grew as a writer, and most importantly, felt a part of this tribe we call poets.
The 10 poets I’ve assembled for this feature were all there at some point along the way, sitting across from me in workshops, next to me at readings, sharing meals at AWP, or swimming with me in the Atlantic Ocean before the next readings that night. But always, for those short and necessary-to-me periods of time that we were together, they shared their love of poetry, their skill, and their craft. And then years later, from the distance between Milwaukee and wherever they were in the country, be it Los Angeles, Atlanta, or Antarctica, their poems and books poured out of them and journeyed here to me. So it is my pleasure to be the featured poetry editor this month for Connotation Press and present these fine poets and this collection of some of their new work.
My first and featured poet is John Walser, a fellow Wisconsin resident, who takes us on a tour to the U.K and the bar at the Oban Caledonian Hotel, then for a long walk through Harlaxton, and then returns us to Wisconsin’s Amish country.
The speakers in the two poems by April Manteris are fluent in loss and surviving the wreckage of relationships ended, while Charles Coté’s two poems talk to us of dying stars and a wild heart.
The three poems by Kim Dower give us a Los Angeles mail carrier, a crime at a retirement home, and the desire for sleep, while Johanna C. Dominguez takes us as far South as one can go with five gorgeous poems set among the glaciers of Antarctica. Meanwhile, Katie Chaple is replying to James Wright’s muse Jenny and gets guttural and blunt about “thighs, flesh, belly, lobes” in her two poems.
J.S. Belote’s three poems wade deftly through grief and consolation, the parables of a moth, and leaving. In his two poems, William Stratton uses long, nimble lines to tell us about a three-fingered mandolin player, and then about nearly being a deer hunter’s trophy.
Travis Wayne Denton imagines the world ending, consumed by the sun, and uses an idling car in a grocery store parking lot to speculate on existence. And finally, Shawn Delgado’s two poems go hunting for beavers with a small caliber rifle, and use a package wrapped up with old road maps to take us on a poetic journey.
Paul Scot August is originally from Chicago but has spent more than half of his life now in Wisconsin. He has an MA in Creative Writing from UW-Milwaukee and is a former poetry editor of The Cream City Review. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. He co-curates the Middle Coast Poets quarterly reading series in Milwaukee. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Stoneboat, Heron Tree, Mead:the Magazine of Literature & Libations, Lindenwood Review, Louisville Review, South Dakota Review, Tygerburning, Midwestern Gothic, Los Angeles Review, Dunes Review, Naugatuck River Review, Passages North and elsewhere. His first book is completed and looking for a publisher.