Monday, July 11, 2005

Many poems of distinction in the new issue of CROWD by friends (Brian Teare!) and blogger-friends (Catfu!) and innumerable poets whose work I like: Eric Baus, William Fuller, Forrest Gander, Barbara Guest, Brenda Hillman, Katy Lederer, Chelsey Minnis, Karen Volkman, Elizabeth Willis. Catherine's poem is from her Tonight's the Night manuscript and it has one of the most beautiful last lines in recent memory: "flaking off toward the mouth of the flue." Brian's poem "The Word from His Mouth, It Is Perfet," is erotic and baroque and very Catholic. You could say something very similar about Forrest Gander's series "Present Tense" but add natural history to the mix. Unutterably sexy or sexy unutterables: "In English there is no word for the dip of your waist." Chelsey Minnis' poem is one of the remarkable "Prefaces" that I heard her read at the PSA Festival last spring: "The poet I worship is Edward Dorn, because I adore his disgust..." Salutary revulsion! There's some good black-and-white art, too, including a very cool comic about pigeon-breeding in Bushwick by Sara Varon; photos of sculptures that look like exploded stolen shopping carts and milk crates by Jane South; and some witty ink drawings by Raymond Pettibon. I like the use of art pages to break up the poems (there's prose too). I feel that CROWD strikes a middle ground between the established semi-avant mags and the magazines of "the few poets undescribed and therefore undestroyed" (a distinction being drawn at the revived blog of Tony Tost—welcome back, Tony, and congrats on getting hitched!). It has all the apparatus of an establishment mag (author names on the back cover, author bios, ads in the back), however. I've come to prefer the stripped-down, intimate feel of magazines like The Tiny and Carve; but something glossier that carries a whiff of the marketplace arguably has more appeal for casual readers who might be put off by the smaller mags' coterie aura. What really counts for me is the vigor and idiosyncracy of a journal's editorial vision. I tend to read magazines that lack the stamp of personality with much less care and interest, even when they contain good work.

Our friends Bonnie & Terry have invited us out onto Cayuga Lake on their boat this fine summer evening. Looking forward to it.

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