While putting the column together for the November mid-month issue, I felt extremely grateful for my work as an editor, and not because I am able to publish work by talented poets. It’s a given that I love sharing their work with readers. But this month, I felt grateful that I get to read the new words of poets each month and listen to speakers who reveal what it is like to live in the world. This kind of clarity is necessary now more than ever. I teach my composition students that writing creates a conversation—that’s important. But more important is that writing takes us out of our comfort zones and into new perspectives. This is one of the most important reasons to keep creating art, for readers as well as other writers and artists. Our country needs the honesty and clarity that art provides.
Davon Loeb brings us our featured poet and an interview this month. He writes:
Margaret Cipriano’s poems are windows into childhood, womanhood, and the transitions between. Her writing is both nostalgic and cinematic. She draws readers into the poems as if being pulled into her memories. Margaret then explores the definitions of beauty, like in her poem, “At the Racetrack,” where she compares and personifies a racehorse to a woman. She questions authority when she writes, “nail shoes to my feet it shouldn’t hurt / a bit we all need to hear a woman / when she walks.” And while these poems experience a loss of voice, Margaret Cipriano’s voice gains it all back.
Davon also brings two other wonderful poets to the November poetry column:
Danielle DeTiberus’ poem reads into memories like looking through a photo book. Her poem, “Desperately Seeking” finds the story of a girl and her appreciation to music. And not just melody and lyric, but how music can bind itself to remembrance and sentiment. This poem also questions what to do when our heroes change and our admiration for them changes. Danielle writes, “After the tumor, after the surgery, he loses / hearing in his left ear and never / quite catches a perfect rhythm again.”
Maggie Greaves’ poems bravely explore the ways family and history juxtapose, and not gently or subtly, but when they clash. She challenges the conventional settings of marriage—she writes, “we try on gas masks in our wedding gear,” and immediately, the crux between family and history ignite. Maggie also blurs domesticity with the fallout of Chernobyl in her poem, “Turkish Designs.” And after reading, Maggie Greaves’ writing should encourage you to take value in the everyday.
The women in the poems of Jennifer Lynn Krohn know what they see, even if their families believe otherwise. In Krohn’s retelling of “The Frog King,” the speaker is not so easily seduced by “that slimy thing,” though her father readily believes this stranger’s stories. These poems ask who we’d rather believe: a myth or legend, or the reality of an event? “It’s easier, /for everyone, to claim / there’s no visitor,” the speaker states in “East of the Sun,” which further questions the truth of individual perception. Yet the speaker of this poem sees her scars. She knows the monster is not a fable; the monster is real.
We have a lovely poem from Sonja Johanson this month. Her lines take us on a journey of the heart, to libraries where we might find “epiphany / in the card catalogue” and to the fireside where “other hearts / have thrummed in sympathy.” However, as much as the heart might experience, safety cannot be promised. Johanson gives us a singing heart but also reminds us of how vulnerable we are.
Cathie Sandstrom’s poems are heavy with grief and beauty. In the inner world of love and mourning detailed in these poems, the natural world is never far away: it silvers and grays; it passes like a rush of wings. Throughout these poems, Sandstrom merges loss with landscape, allowing what leaves this world to still remain part of it.
We close our November poetry column with three poems by Elijah Matthew Tubbs where we encounter hummingbirds, wrens, and fields. We walk under a night sky filled with “star clots and satellites.” The speaker is part of the landscape, not just someone passing through. Sumac berries stain the speaker’s calves. Hummingbirds hover at the windowpane. The natural world is always within reach and aware of the speaker as a part of the landscape. There is peace within the world of these poems, and even though satellites blink in the sky that spreads over the field, they are still distant. The house in these poems may blacken and rot, but the natural world endures.
Thank you for joining us this month. Let us continue to believe in art and keep creating it. All of us.