Time’s been on my mind a lot recently – time invested in work, time saved for family, time for change, movement, fresh beginnings, farewells, and endings. Time is one of the most precious things I have and, I think, that we all have. For a variety of reasons, I’ve decided it’s time that my time as Poetry Editor comes to an end. I have no worry, though, because the Poetry Column is in great hands. Our next Poetry Editor will be the wonderful and exciting Julie Brooks Barbour. Running this Poetry Column has been a joy and a commitment – but there’s no need to get into that now. I’m going to stick around for the retrospective issue next month, so join me here then for a look back at my six years at Connotation Press.
I’m happy to have had the opportunity to interview Richard Foerster and to share that interview with you in my last issue as Poetry Editor. Mr. Foerster shares five poems that come from a section of a new book in which the speaker, as Foerster wrote, “needs to come to terms with the ever-presence of death.” Each of these poems contains stark beauty, though in different ways, through their cadences, language, imagery, and emotions. Religion threads its way through these poems, which deal not only with death, but also with navigation of the present, fear, bursting desire, and absences. Richard’s interview responses are exquisite in a way, as is his poetry, and in his responses, he speaks of doubts, a mentor who deeply resonated with him, fears, projects, losses, loves, and more. He answers a number of my questions, as well as one from Editor in Chief Ken Robidoux. Mr. Foerster’s is the work of someone who has spent serious time both on his craft and on understanding how to infuse self into art.
In addition to my own retirement, I have a second retirement to announce: Associate Editor Paul Scot August has decided to retire from Connotation Press, too. We have enjoyed having Paul on staff for the last year, and I’ve enjoyed reading the work he’s chosen. Paul, though we’re sorry to see you go, we here at Connotation Press wish you the best of luck and friendship. Thanks for all of the work you’ve done here with us. Mr. August leaves us with two final selections, and we’re happy to have those to share with you:
Derrick Austin’s poetry work travels the world and the body with both reverence and sauciness. I love its back-and-forth between sex and art, its acceptance of pleasures (along with their grit) as pleasures, without the judgment that would come with calling something a “vice.” The work is smart and refreshing.
Bradly Brandt’s visually rich work flexes, releasing us only partly as images give way to contemplation. There is a kind of longing in these poems, a roughness, and an element of indecision amidst conflict.
The Amazing Associate Poetry Editor (soon-to-be Poetry Editor) Julie Brooks Barbour brings us an interview and three poets’ worth of truly stunning poetry this month. This work is hard to turn away from. Ms. Julie writes:
These poems by Dorothy Chan explore women as sexual subjects, as women who take control of their sexuality. In each of these scenes, we watch women pose and comment on the settings. This work is raw and powerful. In her interview, Chan speaks at length about her aesthetic, her use of the speaker, and the inspiration and research for these poems.
“It could be you,” Rasaq Malik begins, reminding us that acts of violence are not restricted to one place, one time, or one person. We are all at risk, even as citizens: “It could be your country,/ fading in your presence.” Another poem posits that after our deaths, our lives will be forgotten, “memories beneath unidentified graves.” These poems are daring and haunting, a must-read.
Joseph Han’s poems rediscover family by way of the body, by unearthing bone and by carrying elders. However, the speaker finds something else in the process: “a new map / in shapes for me to follow.” These poems give us new ways of thinking about our part in the lives of our families. We may recognize these journeys but Han paints them vividly for us to see anew.
I’ll see you next month, folks.