Looking back on this year, I'm stunned at the stellar work we've published in our poetry column. I feel grateful to be able to bring this work to you issue after issue, along with the help of Associate Poetry Editor Davon Loeb. Following are some of the highlights of the poetry column from the past year.
This retrospective begins with the work of Cortney Lamar Charleston. His poems remind me of the choices we make in the ways we treat one another. Charleston's use of the body in his work does not let me forget that we are humans, nor do I forget our collective history.
I was thrilled with the poems of Roy G. Guzmán, whose work aches and bleeds. In one poem, a speaker runs from migrant workers in dreams; in another, the speaker revisits a relationship with the father. Guzmán 's poems inspire healing as they investigate trauma and resonate with the spirit.
We published three beautiful poems by Donna Vorreyer this year. Her work is heavy with longing as the speaker loses the self bit by bit. Through Vorreyer's emotionally intense lines, I felt each piece of the self as it was taken. She is able to recreate a world of desire clearly and powerfully; I knew I should leave this place, but I didn't want to.
Sara Henning graced our November poetry column with her lovely poems. In her work is the experience of a loved one's illness and a sister who was never brought to term. Her poems remind me that life is fragile, but she also restores life's beauty within dark moments.
'Gbenga Adeoba's poems contain loss, but also are comforted by a star to lead the speaker. In these poems are secrets of the natural world that gather men together, but which they cannot decode. His poems offer comfort and mystery in their narratives. I find myself revisiting his poems again and again.
We published two poems by Lindsay Tigue that combine imagery and history to create forceful narratives. Her subjects build toward a climax of emotion that left me reeling. These poems are both crafted and instinctual, and are reminders that the world crumbles around and sometimes on top of us. Tigue led me through landscapes I can't forget.
Kathleen Rooney's poems were a treat to publish. Her work took me on an ekphrastic, aesthetic, and philosophical journey into the surreal world of Rene and Georgette Magritte. The speaker of her poems surprised and delighted me.
The poems of Karina Borowicz offer the shore, the sea, and the sand. It's a world I know, but her poems made me see it anew. Who knew the sand could have an appetite? In these poems of longing at land's end, the setting becomes not just one of sight but of the heart.
Sarah A. Chavez's poems are emotionally resonant, merging the past and present with a sense of loss. These epistolary poems left me reeling. Sarah's interview is not one to miss: she discusses the urgency of communication, and how and where we establish boundaries in our lives.
Though it may be a bit early to look back at our July column, the work of Malcolm Friend resonated with me. About his work, Associate Editor Davon Loeb wrote: Malcolm Friend’s poems explore the possibilities of a personal narrative becoming a collective narrative—or how the story of one can become the stories of others. Malcolm’s experiences as a teenager in Seattle are the pivot point from which he turns and faces and says, “your city is / black / as shutdown hallways” and “your city is / white / as fluorescent lights in school hallways.” Malcolm’s commentary is not from a distant perspective, but an individual one, where the conversation is as much about rhetoric as it is about identity. Furthermore, the very structure of these poems reflect the space or lack of space one fills culturally, socially, and within the world.
We published some wonderful poets this year! In case you missed them, make sure to also check out poems by Len Lawson, Emily Rodoni, Sandy Longhorn, Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher, Jeff Hardin, and Jeanne Wagner.
That wraps it up for our yearly retrospective. This year Connotation Press will celebrate eight years! This column is always a joy to publish, and I'm honored every issue to work at this journal. A big thanks to Ken Robidoux for his energy and enthusiasm, and for making Connotation Press possible. As always, I thank you, dear readers, for your support and willingness to listen to the poets we publish.