Land of enversement
Yes, modern poetry perennially threatens to become an academic affair, largely created and consumed by MFA candidates. But it doesn’t have to be so. Just take a look at the new spring issue of the New Mexico Poetry Review. Drawing on contributors who are doctors, soldiers, bikers, painters, actors — and yes, some graduate students in creative writing — the
Review offers a wide sampling of poets, both local and international. The journal launches its new spring issue with a reading by 13 local poets at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St., 988-4226).
Many moons ago, Review publisher Kathleen Johnson, a fifth-generation New Mexican, was warned by a poetry magazine editor that he was not about to read “any poems about your grandparents.” Now with her own journal, Johnson has her quiet revenge. While there’s no overarching theme to the new issue, it’s hard not to notice some of the tough, unsentimental poems about the familial strings that tie us together and tear us apart. “Crystal Set” by Christopher Buckley tunes into the lost world of 1930s do-it-yourself radio to reconstruct the bygone era of his dead father. Shelby Switzer conjures up rural Lincoln County, Montana, “where my grandfather sits among boxes/of books, beside a dog with bad hips.”
One of the stand-out contributions is “High Stakes,” a poem by Iraq War vet Jason Poudrier that recounts a barracks game of poker played in order “to gamble with something other than your life.” His lines reveal a gimlet eye for detail, “You buy in with/a twenty-dollar bill, and they question/their decision to let you play/because the peanuts were from/a mother, the cigarettes a brother/the Skoal a friend back home.”
— Casey Sanchez
Joan Foth’s untitled watercolor appears on the cover of the New Mexico Poetry Review