05 May

April has come and gone “with her shours sweete,” as Chaucer had it (wasn’t it nice when words could be spelled all kinds of ways?), and I am so happy to say that with Poetry Editor John Rose’s yeoman efforts and the generous spirit of all who submitted poems,  we managed to publish just about a poem a day, all of which are still available for your delight here on the website. 

This idea of dedicating a month to some specific human thing has always struck me oddly--in what sense should we set aside only a month to celebrate and reflect on something that matters? We should do it all the time.

 And maybe we should ignore some of the things less worthy of celebration that still get their month--in addition to being National Poetry Month, April was also Financial Literacy Month, National Pet Month in the UK, and Confederate History Month in seven southern states. Ugh.

That was a tangent. What I meant to say, is that there’s never a month—or a day for that matter--when we should not celebrate poetry, read it, write it, live in its embrace. William Carlos Williams wrote, ”it is difficult to get the news from poems,“ but people “die miserably every day for the lack of what is found there.” Ponder that.

So it‘s a good thing to publish a poem a day, and we will, if you send them to us. Submit! We are kind and gentle readers, and our new poetry editor has an expansive heart when it comes to verse.  Speaking of JR, as he’s known to friends, I am thrilled to say, that at my urging, John has consented to share two sections of his epic poem, a work in progress that he has labored on for almost three decades, beginning in the time he studied with James Tate at U-Mass Amherst. You can find them here 

Excerpted from WOAD

The epic is called, PUT THE TITLE HERE. IS IT A TENTATIVE TITLE? It takes place in and expresses the perceptual world of a first-grade boy who blazes into full consciousness in a moment on Flag Day, June 14, 1968. JR projects the poem to reach 1001 pages, and he works on it nearly every day. To describe its sweep and depth is nearly impossible, and these sections give just a brief taste of the whole, which is far from complete. JR will probably not complete it until he is ready to pass on to a higher plane, where he belongs.
One way to think of the poem is that it is filled to the brim with the flotsam and jetsam of American culture—think Flag Day, think 1968, think our botched history, our national malaise as we pursue the myth of the normal, the myth of the American Dream like rats in heat. Another way to think of it is that underneath the range of reference, including the whole internal world of the child doing time in the first-grade classroom, lies a great depth of formal skill--the metric and aesthetic of the poem is sound and often astonishingly compelling in its dramatic narrative mode.
Perhaps the best way to read the poem is in the light of the great master of visionary poetry in English, William Blake, whose inheritor John is. These are the lines from Blake that guide my own reading of the poem, of which you have only a couple of snatches (and which no one has yet seen in its entirety):”To see a world in a grain of sand / And heaven in a world flower, /Hold infinity in the palm of your hand / And eternity in an hour.” Enjoy! Mac Gander, Editor in Chief May 4, 2023

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