The Fall/Winter 2013 issue of Poet Lore arrived yesterday and it’s a pure joy. Editors Jody Bolz and E. Ethelbert Miller do a magnificent job with this journal, which has now seen more than a century of American poetry. They ask, in their introduction, “What kind of lifeline does poetry offer?” It’s a good question with a long and rich answer. I’d say simply that this issue holds the answer by itself.
The cover photograph, above, is titled “Ozark Children at the RFD Box,” Missouri, 1940, Library of Congress. Once inside, U.S. Poet Laureate introduces six poems by Tarfia Faizullah. Her introduction matches the piercing quality of Faizullah’s poems. More on these poems below. These are followed by 120-plus pages of poetry, an essay and three reviews. Among the reviews is Marci Vogel’s excellent review of Fady Joudah’s collection Alight, from Copper Canyon Press.
If you have even a passing interest in poetry, you should subscribe to this journal. Its price is exceptionally reasonable– $25 for two years, four issues. Poet Lore is no flimsy, rushed, unedited journal. Jody Bolz and Ethelbert Miller, both outstanding poets, take their time. They work with poets whose work appears in Poet Lore. They are active editors and their work, borne from a love of poetry, results in a rich, beautiful journal.
I have been the recipient of their good will on many occasions. When I was first published in Poet Lore some years ago, both Jody and Ethelbert made editorial suggestions about the poem they hoped to publish. I learned from them both and the poem was strengthened by their help. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to appear in these pages a few times and I’ve been awed by the journal each time. I subscribe to Poet Lore and hope you will consider doing so too.
A feature in this issue of Poet Lore is “Poets Introducing Poets.” As I noted above, Natasha Trethewey introduces six poems by Tarfia Faizullah. In her introduction, Trethewey writes of Faizullah’s “…clear-eyed vision both familiar and strange, a vision tinged with the inevitability of loss.” In that one line, she zeroes in on one of Tarfia Faizullah’s strengths– she can write in fresh and surprising ways about beauty and its impending fade. She does this in a variety of her poems which I’ve read and heard her read. I was especially fortunate to read with Tarfia at a reading last year at American University. Her poems in this issue of Poet Lore are accessible and open to uncertainty at the same time. I hope you’ll get a copy or subscription to Poet Lore. You’ll love Tarfia’s work and the poems of many others.
This issue includes poems by David Wagoner, Gary Fincke, Joseph Bathanti, Javier Zamora, Carol V. Davis and many more. Those are just a few whose work I already know. Poet Lore will not disappoint.