Monday, February 23, 2004

Why hasn't anyone ever told me what a terrific magazine Chicago Review is? I picked up the new issue in New York and it seems to be just about everything I've ever wanted in a literary magazine. The poetry is of a very high order: so far I 've read the work by Camille Guthrie*, Ed Roberson, Stefanie Marlis, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Joan Retallack, and Karen Volkman (her sonnet project, which I imagine will be a book one of these days, fills me with wonder and envy). In addition to the poem there's a very moving essay/talk by Michael Palmer, "Poetry and Contingency: Within a Timeless Moment of Barbaric Thought." There's probably no poet of his generation that I admire more than Palmer, and I think a lot of the poetry in this issue is touched by his aesthetic: a profoundly ethical wit rendered in sparsely musical and suggestive language, like headlights flashing through a window to make the bedroom strange. There's also some interesting looking prose by Gerard Roth and Viet Dinh, and a couple of other essays I'm looking forward to reading, particulary Joshua Weiner's "The Apprenticeship of Dr. Williams." There are many reviews, including one of Jennifer Moxley's The Sense Record, a book with which I have become somewhat obsessed. She's one of the rare contemporary poets I'm aware of whose sensibility, whose difficulty, resembles that of John Donne: her muse is not indeterminacy but a rage for the syntactically accurate poetic process. (I'm getting a similar vibe from Elizabeth Willis' more playful Turneresque.) Best of all is the blog-like "Notes and Comments" section at the very end, which includes a brief memoir of the late Stan Brakhage, a review of a Max Beckmann show at the Tate Modern in London, Andrzej Stasiuk's reflections on Poland's membership in the so-called "coalition of the willing," and some charming reports on poetry readings in Chicago by Matthias Regan, John Taggart, Michael Heller, Trevor Joyce, Tom Raworth, Jennifer Walshe, Mark Salerno, and Lisa Jarnot. All this for just six dollars! Sign me up!

* It seems that every couple of years I get in touch with Camille and her husband Duncan Dobbelmann (two very talented poets), then lose touch again. Camille and I once shared an Academy of American Poets prize back when were at Vassar together. If by chance you have her or Duncan's e-mail address, would you please let me know?

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