Wednesday Nov 20

JulieBrooksBarbour 2015 I’ve been thinking a lot about opportunity lately: why we take it and what it means to us when someone offers it. Sometimes we take on new opportunities for financial reasons; other times we accept the invitation because we know our lives will be enriched. Most of the ones we take we learn something from in the end, whether or not we realize this at first.

My years at Connotation Press, six in all (first as Associate Poetry Editor then as Poetry Editor) have deeply enriched my life. I’ve interviewed writers that have deepened my thinking about poetry, worked alongside editors who have inspired me with their passion for the genre, and had the honor of reading submissions from poets all over the world. I’ve had the honor of publishing writers whose work I’ve admired for a long time, like Sara Henning, Hope Wabuke, Dan Albergotti, Sandy Longhorn, and Kristina Marie Darling, and been introduced to writers whose names I continue to keep on my radar, such as Roy G. Guzmán, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Anita Olivia Koester, Shayla Lawson, and Jessica Lynn Suchon. This is just a fraction of the talented writers I’ve had the privilege to publish, and this list is by no means complete. I’m grateful to all of the writers included in our pages over the past six years who have made being an editor for Connotation Press a joyous process.

This will be my last poetry column for Connotation Press. For various reasons, I’ve decided to wrap up my work as Poetry Editor. Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your reading life for the past six years. And thank you, most of all, to Ken Robidoux for inviting me to take this journey in the first place.

Onto our July poetry column! We begin with a poem from Leah Umansky that details a landscape of hate. “This / Pin / Is stuck / In the root/ Of my hope,” states the speaker who leads us through a world that hate has darkened so fiercely that all light has been eclipsed. I deeply admire the short lines of this poem that ask us to slow down and pay attention to what hatred wants from and will do to all of us if we’re not vigilant.

We have a persona poem by Caroline Parkman Barr that imagines the life of Salvador Dali’s Venus de Milo with Drawers. Bees buzz in the speaker’s ribcage and have to be removed “or else their hot-humming / burrows bone-through.” This is the removal of what could be love, the bees voicing reminders of what the speaker could have. The final image of this poem is so poignant that I’ve reread the poem numerous times to experience it again.

Callista Buchen’s poem “Borderland” highlights the complex landscape of motherhood, from being a “fortress” to wondering “where is the original map?” Not only does the speaker “measure the days” but she also “builds her body into home.” She is aware of what a mother should be, but also keenly aware that there are no directions for this journey. We are not spared the speaker’s questions or anxiety, and we shouldn’t be.

We close our column with a poem from Jeff Newberry which experiments with the sestina form in intriguing ways. The speaker ruminates on what heaven might be like as each section invites a different imagining, from “an isolated cabin / by a pond where fish dimple the water” to a place where “The soul emerges into some gray never.” By the end of the poem, I picture a landscape of heaven where all of the speaker’s visions are possible, and perhaps that is the point: there is no single definition of the eternal.

Thank you for visiting with these poets and thank you, as always, for your readership. It means a great deal. Make sure to join us in August for a special retrospective!