I’m happy to bring you several poems by and an interview with Peter Cooley. Mr. Cooley’s poems center around Rodin’s sculptures and weave together layers of stories: the story of the art, the writer’s experience of the art, and the writer’s experience of the poem. Add the reader, and more and more stories layer on. I love that about these poems. None of us can get enough stories. Peter’s extraordinary craft gives his poems a wonderful honesty and a deceptive simplicity, and the more I read them, the more I love them. Come be a part of this story.
Associate Editor JP Reese brings two wonderful writers to the column this month, one with an engaging interview. Ms. Reese writes:
Roberto Carlos Garcia graciously agreed to an interview with me this month. His poems are immediate and real. They don't shy away from controversy yet they capture a sense of time and place that sings. His poem, “Poem for Uncle Jaimé,” is full of the tastes and scents of Caribbean culture as it recounts the deviltry of a backdoor man who is “… a stone cold fucking machine….” We root for Uncle Jaimé, even as he gets his comeuppance. “Back to school,” with its formal use of couplets, creates a tension between form and content as it captures an all-too-common experience for children of color that most of us had hoped would be only a memory of earlier, uglier times by now.
Maureen Donatelli combines natural imagery and human sentiment in her poetry that pierces the delicate membrane between loss and desire. Her language is gorgeous, witness “… starlings in the hundreds/ reel thick, stippled silhouettes like dark art/ inking a white movie screen sky….” and “… the great black oak standing foolish/with its green leaves/and green moss /splattered, an unwilling rack/for the white weight.” Her deft use of personification, alliteration, and stunning imagery makes these poems works that will resonate with readers.
Associate Editor Nicelle Davis brings us the poetry of Melanie Jeffrey alongside a great, touching interview. Nicelle writes:
Melanie Jeffrey’s work reaches beyond language to the realms that exist beyond our cognitive understanding. To read her poems is to link into another’s dream—another’s heart—and feel the emotional pulse of another human. To be with Melanie’s work is to become human.
In Maryann Corbett’s poem “Magnification,” I am seduced by language. Along with appreciating Corbett’s obvious skill with the sonic and symbolic properties of words (like magnified grains of sand placed end to end, together radiating collective fire), I am in the mine of the speaker’s imagination, of the internal world she creates for us with language and image. In her poem “Reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel to Peter, Aged Three,” Corbett deftly portrays the poignant opposites of childhood innocence and the adult speaker’s all-too-keen awareness of mortality. “…I croon / the tale of crankshaft time that grinds / us down to dig the earthworks of our dying.”
We have three poems from Adam Tavel this month, which I’m very excited to be able to share with you. Adam caught my attention with his voice(s), inventive phrasings, and surprising approaches and turns. There’s something both delightful and somber in these poems, which tell stories both in their narratives and in their voices and phrasings. Mr. Tavel’s poetry is so full of life and people and what makes us keep going – looking into the sky, knitting mittens, digging bullets out of our buddy’s gut, reading poems, whatever it is, we do it to keep going, and we keep going to do it. The discomfort, the sadness, is part of what makes the life so vibrant in these poems, part of what makes them so wonderful.
Aleksey Porvin also joins the column this month with two poems that he wrote in Russian and translated into English himself. One thing I love about these poems is the sense they give me that I’m in a cabin in the woods, either sound-proofed with snow about to crack under the burst of spring – or already surrounded by green, boxed in by green, wondering if the snow was better after all. Beauty does not come unencumbered in these poems; it may be overwhelming, but it is not kind. Phrases in these poems make me feel hushed, like everything has quieted in deference to the line. I only wish I could read the Russian versions, too!
Come on in and interweave your story with ours – we have plenty to share!