Land of en­verse­ment

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

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

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