I am grateful each issue of Connotation Press for my work as an editor. I love writing but it’s through editing that I’m exposed to experiences outside my own. The words of other writers enrich and expand my thinking. Through reading work focused on identity and experience, my insight and empathy increases. The poets we publish each month view the world in different ways and I am always grateful for their words.
In light of this gratefulness, sometimes I am disappointed in the literary community. I wish there were more love and acceptance. I wish we listened more openly and spoke more carefully. Then I remember the writers and editors in the literary world who remind me why I fell in love with the written word and wanted to spend the rest of my life with it. I’m also reminded that this is a community and disagreements will occur. Sometimes we have to speak out to encourage discussion and make changes. If we do this from a place of love, it will benefit all of us.
This column is a labor of love, and we have some fantastic poets in our September poetry column. Our lead poet this month is Jeff Hardin. In an interview with Jeff, he offers a discussion of how poetry can be a journey into enchantment and wonder. His poems reflect this journey by looking beyond the obvious: a child holding doughnut holes “raised heavenward” and a cup of coffee shared with “an old raggedy couple” that becomes more than a shared moment, but a shared experience.
We also have three translations from T.A. Noonan which reinvent the Epodes of Horace. Bringing them to us as Episodes, Noonan takes the reader through the daydreams of a moneylender, words of revenge, and words to a lover. These moments are packed with gorgeous imagery: “The moon shines on smaller stars” and “North, rise like a star or a friend, high as mountains, to shiver and fall.” It is always a delight to read translations from a talented poet, and these do not disappoint.
Two poems from Jeanne Wagner revisit neighborhoods of the past, asking us to look again at the pools of neighbors, “radiant as set gems,” and swimmers who disappear “with just the ghost / of a splash.” She notices every house, even that of the hoarder: “a perpetually deferred garage sale / in progress.” The lens reflects back on who we are, and whether it is braver to keep the past or let it go.
Our new Associate Editor Amorak Huey brings us work from two wonderful poets this month:
These poems by Lesley Wheeler are dark, lovely, and unforgettable. Like the "Dirt Mermaid" of the first poem's title, they are not all one thing; they challenge and charm and chill. What is the relationship between beauty and decay? Between hunger and anger? "Whose grief is / this?" one poem asks. These are big questions, and Wheeler's poems take them on without flinching.
Victoria McArtor explores what could be a familiar landscape in her poems: the restlessness of a long summer, the boredom of yet another beach vacation. But these poems are startling in their freshness, their fragmentation, the way they open up the shell of their subject matter and explore the nuance and beauty inside. Something is always broken in the landscape of these poems, someone is always leaving. Yet the conversation that happens within these lines and silences uplifts, heals, calms.
We have three poems from Donna Vorreyer to share with you in our column. Vorreyer’s poems are heavy with longing as the speaker loses the self bit by bit. We feel each piece as it’s taken: “You crush the moon to craters” and “Your orbits are erratic, strange parabolas of leaving / and returning.” These poems echo a belief in desire and “the usual promise of communication.” Vorreyer is able to recreate this world clearly and powerfully; we know we should leave but don’t want to.
The women in Brianna Pike’s poems find ways to cope with pain: whether through a life-long promise made to a fiancé who is chronically ill, or an abused spouse creating a better life for her daughter. The speaker watches the lives of these women and never judges. Instead, the speaker reveals these lives as they are and as they move within pain and joy.
Finally, we have three poems by Roy G. Guzmán this month. These poems ache and bleed. In one, a speaker runs from migrant workers in dreams, “teeth locked in their hammers.” In another poem, the speaker revisits a relationship with the father: “Father is hunger… Father /is obsidian knife.” Guzmán’s poems inspire healing as they investigate traumas which we should “Crack… open. Nibble on what makes their yolk / glimmer with apathy.”
Thank you for taking the time to visit our September column, and for letting us share the beautiful work of these eight poets with you.