Call for Submissions, THEMED Issue 9

 

AdamEve

Hi Everyone!

Issue 9 will be themed: “Adam and Eve, Observations about Men and/or Women.” We will interpret the theme broadly. That said, please submit only work that aligns.

The Call is open through Sunday night, April 1, 11:59 pm US Central time. Please submit no more than 3 poems or one piece of prose, 500 words or less. One attached document only. We use Submittable: Panoply’s Submittable Page. We read blind. DO NOT identify yourself on the work. Submittable provides a suitable location and format for that. Simultaneous submissions are ok, but published works are NOT.  We generally accept no more than one piece per submitter per issue. Please keep your bio to 60 words or less!

We plan to publish Issue 9 on or about May 4. For more detail, view our guidelines near the bottom of this blog.

Thanks for thinking of Panoply. We look forward to reading your work!

Andrea, Jeff, and Ryn, Editors

Review of Robert Nisbet’s Chapbook, “Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes”

Please enjoy the following review of Robert Nisbet’s new chapbook, “Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes.” Co-editor Ryn Holmes examines Robert’s strong sense of place and how he examines the richness that a lesser mind may have overlooked. We hope you will take a closer look at Robert’s work!

(This is our third chapbook review. We plan to review a new chapbook between each issue of Panoply.)

Nisbet Cover

Published by Prole Books
ISBN 978-0-9569469
40 pages
£ 6.70/$9.34
(Robert offers you purchase from him directly for $10 including postage.)

Submitted by Ryn Holmes
March 2018

It is a very good sign when an author has successfully embedded a reader into the place setting right off and also encouraged them to become quickly invested in the characters.  In Robert Nisbet’s chapbook, Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes, the author has done exactly that.

When I read Robert’s chapbook of poetry, Merlin’s Lane, it was clear he brought to it all he had invested in his first love, prose. Now, with Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes, his Celtic inheritance as a Welshman – a natural gift for language, rich characterization and mise en scène – is on display in this his latest collection. This time, however, he has gone even further and risen above what might have been only a pleasant memento by expanding his talent with an enhanced vision that brought him to a new level of sophistication and also brought the reader from the local to a universal experience.

Robert reaches across time, going from youth to maturity, as only someone who has gathered a basketful of experiences is able to do. His great fondness for his locale is without mawkish sentimentality, bringing in all its charm and innocence, lust and romance of the villagers. For instance, in his second poem, The Ella Fitzgerald Song Book, he writes of a happy man’s fond return to his small village:

“…He breakfasts now in wild kite
land, lingers, loves the satiety,
his eggs now bundled in the one,
the only basket, there, on that wondrous
mountainside….”

Further on, in the opening of Circles, he shows the depth of his sensitivity to the environment and the tunings of a human heart along with an ability to render the essence of personality with precision.

“Cloud
                                                                           dissipating
as the beach’s sand and shingle are lit
by the rays of an afternoon sun.

The girl, her shoulders turned slightly in on herself,
walks slowly to the shore. She might almost be keening….”

That Robert has talent is without doubt, yet in lesser hands the strong psychological and emotional aspects of his writing may interfere, causing the reader to give short shrift to a skillful craft on full display.  His empathy toward his fellow villager is kind with an occasional note of whimsy. He is not without careful humor and his keen attention to detail is marvelous as seen in the narrative piece, Life Drawing.

“…Her pose, by chance or plan, is pensive. As she sits, her buttock cheeks are squashed out wide. One lock of straying hair, a mix of grey and brown, flops forward…Her face is grained, it has an outdoor look, she’s been a farm girl, has those hefty legs. Her breasts might once have drawn their share of admiration’s glimpse…She still retains a decent belly, she’s not fat, two operations scars still faintly blue above her bush….”

And further on, in Stripping,

“…The aunt, …possessed by some pack of her heart’s demons
and baring , in her struggle,
the yellowing belly and the sad sparse fuzz….”

Eventually, Robert reveals the depth of his romantic nature and leads us to several pieces concerning love in its many guises. I have deliberately chosen several as examples of his sympathy and understanding.

Beginning with Heartbeat, we feel the unrequited longing for another from whom one is separated by distance, is palpable:

“I was in that village, away from you two years….
…I was aware, I swear I was, of your distant heartbeat….
…I even knew the tenor of your afternoons….”

Or another about love of a different kind, the shy attraction of the protagonist to one she has never met, A Sudden Summer Sun on St. Bride’s Bay (note the title’s lovely alliteration):

“…she peels her way
through the spider-written letter
from the boy from France….

If I cannot become to see you this August,
my summer, he will be ruined

and she flowers, and walks,…
…feeling herself a mademoiselle,
a mannequin, a belle.”

Now, we segue to a seasoned, comfortable connection between two people in Pilgrimage:

“In love in the gently respectful way
some people have….
…they’d drive on Boxing Day, two hundred miles
…to the headland they’d known in youth….”

And finally, An Evening the Colour of Rain, is remarkable for the words hand-picked to play out an interlude in 8 lines.

Here, former friends (with history) find themselves in the same place at the same time and effect a reunion:

“…Then Greg met Sue again, it was twelve years now
(there was history there, undecidedness)

but they skirted the fringes of each other’s tenderness
(memories recurring and looming)

There were wonderings and hoverings
possibilities dancing, dancing

then bedding with affection’s rain
into the soil of place….”

Fittingly, Robert ends with a poignant poem about writing that takes place in different decades. It reveals the intense love of a young writer for his craft juxtaposed with the remote possibility of anybody ever reading or understanding it.  But as you shall see, one reader shall make all the difference in A Calendar for 1970:

“As he wrote his last batch of stories,
and nineteen-seventy’s early months
spread into spring, above his writing
desk there stood an orange lamp, its shade
just slightly charred, and a pictorial
calendar….

…In twenty-ten, the book
sits on various shelves.  Last year three were
sold, two on eBay, one to a young librarian,…
one to a man who found it in a car boot sale in
Banbury, read it that night, and felt…the very
net and crowd of feelings
that the author felt, those years ago,
under that calendar, under that lamp.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a pleasure to review.  As a reader, I did find that the names and place titles written in Cymraeg may tend to break the flow for anyone unschooled in speaking or reading that language if one has to stop and look up a translation. This was a small price to pay, however, to be able to read these poems.

Robert Nisbet

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has published widely in Britain and the USA. He was shortlisted in 2017 for the Wordsworth Trust Prize.

Editors’ Choice, February 23-March 1, 2018, “The Harrow,” by Bill Newby

The final Editors’ Choice for Issue 8, and the third focusing on a father, is Bill Newby’s reminiscence, a wonderful depiction of the metaphysical based on tangible and physical imagery. Enjoy.

When I tug it from the clamp
snugging it to the garage wall
my hand reaches into the past,

to the backyard garden
where my grandfather stands,
his hands poised at the top of the shaft,
as his weeding and tilling were interrupted
for the one, grainy, five-by-seven
that sits on my dresser
and greets me every morning.

He looks over his shoulder,
squinting in the sunlight baking his back,
wearing the long sleeves, vest and tie
from his day at work.

Nothing was permanent-pressed
about his world.

It was an age of migration and planting,
a time of sturdy fibers
that cupped to knees and elbows,
frayed at the collar
and swung on a line
stretched from the back door.

A time when green-visored engineers
hunched over drawing boards
as they pulled lead along t-squares and triangles.

When rough hands anchored a length of ash
to be turned and rounded,
and wood flakes clustered in forearm hairs
as a drawknife was slowly pulled across its surface.

When a craftsman’s eye
shaped the shaft’s narrow neck
to lead my grandfather’s, my father’s and my hand
to the harrow’s sweet balance point,
where we could cradle and caress it
in the crook of our fingers
on our way to drawing its tines
through the rich earth
dreaming of a better life.

Bill NewbyBill Newby is a life-long teacher who uses poetry and fiction to explore moments of celebration, complaint, concern and comedy. His work has appeared in Whiskey Island, Ohio Teachers Write, Bluffton Breeze, Sixfold, Palm Beach Poetry Festival Fish Tales Contest, and Island Writers’ Network’s anthologies, Time & Tide and Ebb & Flow.

 

 

For previous Editors’ Choices, please visit:
The Hail – Jacob Butlett
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers – Ann Howells
Dear Dad – Emily Gates
Biscayne Bay Lies Still, Like Glass – David Colodney
A New Hope for a New Zion – Charles McCaskill

Issue 8, Winter 2017-8

DSC_0769

Happy New Year to our friends in the literary community! We hope you passed the holidays in fine fashion and are looking forward to a wonderful 2018. We sure are! And to kick it off in style, we’re honored and proud to present Issue 8. Once again, it’s chock full of artistry, beauty, and fine craft from a wide array of writers. (Oddly but proudly, we boast a few pieces about fathers, particularly fathers and their tools. But not all are paeans!) We thank you for your interest in Panoply and hope you enjoy Issue 8!

If you like what you see, please consider a donation. Just use the PayPal link located in the right margin.Feel free to like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/panoplyzine/

Best wishes,
Andrea, Jeff, and Ryn, Co-Editors

Table of Contents

Poetry
AcceptanceMark Mansfield
The Ambassador of MirrorsRay Marsocci
and you, little birdLisa Reily
Another Massacre and Driving Home (after Nazim Hikmet)Patricia Nelson
Biscayne Bay Lies Still, Like GlassDavid Colodney
Celebrity CelibacyCarl “Papa” Palmer
Civilization in the Here and NowJohn Grey
Conversations with WaterTyrek Greene
A Day from the WindowAlexander Menachem
Dear DadEmily Gates
DepartureSue Scavo
Dinner Time in the Alzheimer’s WingSherri Wright
Driving Down the Mountain at SunsetLaura L. Mays Hoopes
ElementalAlan Girling
EmptySteve Gerson
Evening WalkJoan Mazza
Fado: The Missing KeyJoe Amaral
A Father’s ShovelFrank Babcock
The God KvasirBill Garten
Grit: The Resilience of New YorkersKathleen A. Lawrence
The HailJacob Butlett
The HarrowBill Newby
HelsinkiRobert Okaji
HiddenHannah Rousselot
How to Be a MalacologistStephanie L. Harper
In the Heaven of HopscotchAnne Higgins
In the Orcan FieldMichael Cooper
In the Women’s Locker RoomCarolyn Martin
Intersection, Midtown Atlanta Jude Marr
It Wasn’t YouSarah Brown Weitzman
KneesSandra Lindow
A Lasting RhymeRichard King Perkins II
Leaving LouisianaGeorge Such
MimaropaMichael Mira
MorticianSteven Wojtowicz
Mother TongueToti O’Brien
My GodIon Corcos
A New Hope for a New ZionCharles McCaskill
On Meeting Plato in Fairview Cemetery, Council BluffsRobert Klein Engler
Osoberry, OverripePaula Persoleo
Passing ByIrene Fick
Penny/HeartJames Croal Jackson
The Poison Garden at Alnwick CastleWilliam Reichard
PortLaura Madeline Wiseman
The PrairieBridget Fertal
PrayerDarian Kuxhouse
Rite of PassageSusan Holck
Scholars HenceMike Jurkovic
Scratch in My ThroatHannah A’Enene
SkyscapeEmman Usman Shehu
Some Things Must Be Believed to Be SeenKevin Brown
Stripping Scrap WireMichael VanCalbergh
Surviving SnappersEd McCourt
Toy ParkBeau Boudreaux
TruncatedDevon Balwit
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers Ann Howells
The WardrobeGareth Culshaw
When Someone DiesCarla Schwartz
When We Were TogetherColton McLaughlin
The WolvesAlexandra Gaines

Prose
AdjacentMercedes Lawry
FireNancy Tingley
FlaviaLinda McMullen
Fishy VisceraTee Linden
If I Could Tell YouRachel Inberg
Iowa’s PromiseChila Woychik
A LetterLeonardo Boix
Mother (Inspired by Grace Paley)Diane Gottlieb
MotivationRobert L. Penick
Open Letter, Open Sea, Open LoveChristopher Stolle
PeachesHal Ackerman
ResistanceTony Burnett
Speculative Real EstateJen Sage-Robison
TwelveScott Zeigler
The Whole Goddamn ThingHowie Good

Review of Robert Okaji’s Chapbook, “From Every Moment A Second”

Please enjoy the following review of Robert Okaji’s new chapbook, “From Every Moment A Second.” Editor-in-Chief Jeff Santosuosso examines Robert’s magical, hopeful portrayal of how things, events, and time are interrelated. We hope you will take a closer look at Robert’s work!

(This is our second chapbook review. We plan to review a new chapbook between each issue of Panoply.)

OkajiChapbook

From Every Moment A Second, by Robert Okaji
Published by Finishing Line Press
ISBN 978-1-63534-331-1
20 pages
$14.99

Submitted by Jeff Santosuosso
December 2017

Those who enjoy poetry that reveals much by saying little should check out Robert Okaji’s new chapbook, From Every Moment a Second. Okaji masters white space, implication, presence and absence in this pithy yet brief collection. He mines themes of humans and nature, their adjacency and interdependence. He presents the cycles of life, of change and transformation, not only among beings themselves, but as they interact with the rest of the natural world. From this physical environment, he touches on metaphysical themes, spirituality, a heightened sense of natural order.

Suitably, he opens with “Magic,” the seen and unseen, illusion. We cannot trust our eyes. Things are, but we doubt. “You give me nothing to hold, and for this/are blessed.” So much going on here. Syntax befuddles logic, trips us up. “You” are blessed? We realize this “nothing” is not an absence, but an affirmation. Hence the blessing. Welcome to intangibility, the world beyond the physical. “Words conceal what the night cannot,” Okaji’s speaker continues, inverting perceptual convention. As if we’re attending a magic show, Okaji signals that all is not as it might appear to the untrained eye.

So he trains us. In scene after scene, he reveals the hidden, lifting the veil of convention and language to uncover what words have concealed. “Mayflies” comes in couplets, like males and females, humans and insects, ability and inability, purpose and desire. The speaker witnesses death among the mating ritual, and wonders, “still I dream of flight.” “Take Away” catches us off-guard with the near-realism of “the economy of dying.” The speaker laments things taken away: “Grief enriches no one,” yet closes with the agonizing image of a mother “cradling pain in both arms,” while “The second shares her shadow.” Relationships, comparative anguish – these are laid bare for us to interject ourselves, a masterful drawing in, literary magic. We begin to understand the sleight of hand, the craft.

The legerdemain twists like a tongue in cheek, particularly in “Runaway Bus,” an unlikely treatment of a chest cold, ironically a fresh, light breath among deep inhalations. Even the chapbook title, excerpted from “Flame,” is a bit of a pun. “Second” is not a portion of time. It is a descendant, progeny. This verbal game reminds us of the emphasis on relationships, cause and effect, development. Later, “Latitude” revisits the age-old conundrum about chickens and eggs, this time a playful tangent, complete with a frying pan, salt, and butter. “What Feet Know” reminds us at first of our childhood innocence, but compels acknowledgement of how darkness defines the light.

“To the Light Entering the Shack One December Evening” is the masterpiece of the journey, a study in light and darkness, life and death, presence and absence. Even the impermanent affirms beyond mortality. The speaker sees that “The pear tree’s ghost shudders./Water pools in the depression of its absence.” Following the heartbreaking “Bottom Falling,” a tender study on the loss of death, this indirect piece reveals by questioning. “Will you leave if I open the door?” The speaker illuminates, partially, cloaking his revelation with, “You are not death, but its closest friend.”

“The Resonance of No,” with its ominous title, pairs the quotidian and tangible with the metaphysical and intangible. His speaker muddles through a day, unable or perhaps unwilling to shake himself of the relentless administrative demands of his father’s death. Even the date he will visit the grave is unclear, but the speaker cannot escape this call. For all our daily cares consume, we must face truths, confront our mortality, feel the pit in our stomachs as we recognize the pull of the superordinate.

Breath, smoke, and breeze dominate “Every Wind.” Those wisps come and go, as if cloaked and revealed, first fixed in our vision, then disappearing. Each breath is life-giving, but it must be followed by a “second.” Okaji instructs, “Every wind loses itself/no matter where/it starts.” If we fail the next breath, we perish. The speaker suffers, his “Grief ages one thread at a time,” as he searches for someone. That someone could be anyone. No matter, the poem is about the pining. The deceased has lost itself like the wind. In “With No Mountain in View,” the speaker reminisces, nearly luxuriating, then snaps back from his fantasy as “A crow flaps away.” Departure, breezes, and motion resulting from wing flaps, the essential act of a bird, carry us away. We’re not even sure where we’re going, how the magician pulled off the trick. The speaker’s moment is “seconded” by uncertainty, but seconded nonetheless. Even in departure and absence, we find ourselves in a new here.

“Privilege” clarifies Okaji’s theme beyond doubt. “Every hour becomes another” opens the piece, a flag in otherwise shifting ground, as clarifying as “Strong coffee, books. A smile.” We can rely on those, they’re dependable. His speaker has found confidence, in the presence of a loved one, “as the lights go out/and we wonder when they’ll return,/not if.” Here, the future looms, although Okaji steps back, realizing that, “Anything can happen, and frequently does.” The title works hard, revealing the optimism and near-immortality the speaker expresses. Yet he’s ready for uncertainty. The “second” is the privilege, no matter what it brings. The future is coming, unclear as it may be, it is. Even in times of loss and separation, we can rely on something to follow. With assertion, he and his loved one “open the door and step out, unhindered.”

The work crescendos in the aforementioned “Flame,” a study on the endurance of the human spirit amid hardship. “On the Burden of Flowering” pushes the envelope, straight from the title. The burden? The speaker’s marigold had been dying. “Today it/stands tall./Yellowing.” Is this life or death? Triumph or defeat? Why must the flower pursue its fatal duty? That is the burden of flowering, one the marigold assumes without hesitation.

“Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine (after Hokusai)” returns to the interdependence of things in nature. “Who knows where bird/begins and tree/ends” pulls us into a place of peace, of things and their environment. Like the marigold, the cranes assume their own burden, amid the threat of winter. Yet there they are. Okaji then shifts from the pine to the oak, this time a rotting one in “Firewood,” a seemingly immortal tree, huge, having survived burdens no man ever could. There, but soon to disappear – at the speaker’s respectful hand. The human interprets his world, his humble place within it, bounded by things mightier than he could ever be, yet participating in their disappearance. Yet this respect, this near-reverie assures us that that moment will be followed by a second. The work closes with “To the Lovely Green Beetles Who Carried My Notes into the Afternoon,” a study in acknowledgement and gratitude, a recognition of order, of how the speaker’s words are carried off “never to be assembled,/and better for it.” There can be no doubt. Their impermanence is not futile. Nor have they perished. Nor are they mortal. “Such beauty should not be bound,” we read, recognizing that their passing has left its mark. From that moment, a second has been born.

This brief work uncovers deep themes with a light touch, uplifting the physical to reveal the metaphysical, offering that things relate in place and time, with mortality not more than a breath, a wisp of smoke, here then gone as moments and things have seconds.
Robert Okaji

Robert Okaji lives in Texas. His work has appeared in such publications as Mockingheart Review, Eclectica and Otoliths, and can also be found on his blog, https:robertokaji.com.

Issue 7 – Summer, 2017 (Double Issue!)

Poppy

Issue 7 sets a precedent for Panoply. Actually, a few. The bounty of works here in this double issue is due of course, to a bounty of deserving work by our contributors. We cast a wider net during our calls for submissions, receiving about 3 times our historical norm! You’ll notice a whole section for prose, and as you scroll, some great works by young writers. In fact, we’re proud once again to debut some wonderful new voices (regardless of their age).

Since there’s so much, here are some browsing tips (in order of appearance):

  • Humor – Downgrade, This Isn’t the Story I Intended to Write, The Waffle House Index, Zeng Shangyou
  • Love/Romance – My Lover and I
  • Pastoral/Nature – Looking Down on Newgale Beach, Path, Perfect Rain, Zen Garden at the Museum of Fine Arts
  • Social/Political – Karuizawa Tales, Like a King
  • Edgy – Cage Match, Finals, Stalker in Orange, Tawny Kitten
  • Characters – Dear Harold, Everyday Blessings, Firebrand, A Girl Called Rose, Mrs. Neustead, Prize Fighter, White Sheets, You, Frank & Mia & Me, Heroes, Loving Spoonful, Padlock, Patriots, A Slice of Lemon on the Side
  • Loss/Death – Intuition, Lament, Moth-Hour, Nowhere, South Dakota, Poem for Honduras, Proper Etiquette for the First Year of Mourning, You

As always, we thank our contributors for uplifting us! And we thank our readers for giving us purpose. Feel free to tell your friends and give us feedback! Look for Issue 8 around year-end.

Best wishes,
Andrea, Jeff, and Ryn, Co-Editors

Poetry

The actor who only gets to play a hitmanJonathan Jones
AfterPatricia Anderson
AfterbloomLawdenmarc Decamora
and the crows fallAM Roselli
Astronautics (or, an email I sent to neil degrasse tyson while sitting in whole foods)Lily Tice
The Berryman TrickTim Kahl
camera obscuraClaudia Radmore
CezannePatricia Nelson
Cheri’s Montana Lounge, Chester, MontanaMichelle Hartman
CornflowerMadison White
(the crisp settle of the door)Dennis Reavis
Elkhorn AvenueCameron Morse
Escape from EllenvilleMike Jurkovic
Everyday BlessingsSally Zakariya
FirebrandThomas McDade
Folclore Tale Leonardo Boix
FragileMary McKeel
A Girl Called RoseBella Smith
The GuitaristSteven Reese
A Haiku YearKendra Leonard
Harvest MoonJared Pearce
Home RemediesJohn Repp
How Long is this Sentence?Gary Twynam
Interlude at a Closed Chevron, 11:42 pmAlicja Zapalska
IntuitionLaura Foley
An InvitationPaul Lubenkov
Karuizawa TalesRobert Hoffman
Kathleen Remembers the Flood John Grey
LamentAnne Whitehouse
Late Night Talk Show FantasyJennifer Dotson
Like a KingIon Corcos
Looking Down on Newgale BeachRobert Nisbet
The Man Cooks Greens While Thinking of WordsTobi Alfier
Moth-HourClaire Scott
Mrs. NeusteadJim Zola
Nowhere, South DakotaAndrew Kruse-Ross
NumbersIsabella Colalillo Katz
The Oboe Will Shine TomorrowDevon Balwit
The Old In-Out In-OutYu-Han Chao
Once Upon a TimeBaisali Chatterjee Dutt
PassengerCharles Kell
PathSteve Gerson
Perfect RainTerry Brix
Poem for HondurasHeather Truett
A Priest and an Indian Walk Into a BarJessica Mehta
Prize FighterMartin Hopson
Proper Etiquette for the First Year of MourningJacqueline Jules
Rich Farm Land Drew Settlers to HessRyan Clark
Running at 6:45 on a mid-November morningBrett Cortelletti
Sunflower GhostsRobin Gow
Swift ActionG. Louis Heath
TestamentDeborah L. Davitt
Touch This ElephantRobert Beveridge
TransfusionVirginia Boudreau
Van Gogh Paints a Self-PortraitAnn Howells
The Waffle House Index, or: (if the Waffle House is closed the populace is shrinking) – John McCracken
Walking Stick, A PrayerKeith Moul
WaveAlan Gann
What I’ve LostCarl Boon
Where My Muse Comes FromDaryl Sznyter
While You Were Trying To Be Cool I Was Snorting Flintstone ChewablesKristian Kuhn
White SheetsShelby Curran
Winter PlungeEileen Malone
YouAnthony Carl
Zeit HeistNick Romeo
Zen Garden at the Museum of Fine ArtsMary Buchinger

Prose

The Bedouin Woman’s SmileNektaria Petrou
Cage Match Jodi Sh. Doff
The DapRosanne Ehrlich
Dear HaroldChristine Seifert
DowngradeLois Morrison
FinalsMarie Anderson
For SummerAnusha Srinivasan
Frank & Mia & MeCharles Leipart
HeroesBlake Benson
Letters from My GrandsonsSherri Wright
Loving SpoonfulAlexander Jones
The Moonshine RubyTravis Kennedy
My Lover and IMaggie Boals
One Smoothie is a TragedyMatt Dube
OverheadSoramimi Hanarejima
PadlockBeth Gordon
PatriotsStephen O’Donnell
A Slice of Lemon on the SideKristen Olsen
SpillageG. Emil Reutter
Stalker in OrangeMaddie Woda
Tawny KittenTina Bubonovich
This Isn’t the Story I Intended to WriteGuy Biederman
TollboothKelsey Maki
Wild Cat Menagerie and Great Intercourse CircusCatherine Moore
Winter Plunge Eileen Malone
Zeng ShangyouJack Feerick

Review of Jami Macarty’s Chapbook, “Landscape of The Wait”

Please enjoy the following review of Jami Macarty’s new chapbook, “Landscape of The Wait.” Co-editor Andrea Walker takes us through Macarty’s poetic impressions of a life-changing series of events. We hope you will take a closer look at Jami’s work!

(We’re thrilled to provide this review service to our audience and plan to review chapbooks three times a year, about midway between issues of Panoply.)

Landscape Cover Shot

Landscape of The Wait by Jami Macarty
Published by Finishing Line Press
ISBN 978-1-63534-235-2
32 pages

Submitted by Andrea Walker
June, 2017

In her succinct collection of poetry, Landscape of The Wait, poet Jami Macarty’s speaker’s nephew William lies critically injured, in a coma after a horrific automobile accident on the interstate. His family gathers near day after day waiting and hoping for his recovery. As months drag by and his condition does not improve, family members try to understand what’s happening to him as well as to themselves. In thirty-two pages of twenty-two poems, Macarty effectively takes the reader through the stages of grief and acceptance of an incomprehensible situation.

As the inhabitants of the poetry find themselves confused and in shock the overriding conflict exists in the helplessness of the speaker in the poems. It is fitting that what seems inaccessible in the poems at first comes strangely alive with the second and third reading. The opening poem “Fracture” describes the unfathomable reality of the occurrence. In this landscape of waiting with “no change,” the subconscious hovers between life and death perhaps heaven and earth, but the words are clear “truth can go different ways,” “three suns/ no change/ no change/ no change,” “is he leaning into healing or receding.”  The structure of “Fracture” literally illustrates the concept of fractured with white space on the page, stanzas in columns, some readable across or down, fragments of thoughts and phrases, repetition that questions or emphasizes. “Fracture” paints the bleak landscape and sets the tone for the fragmented lives represented in the poetry.

In her attempt to make sense of the tragedy, the poet puts herself and the reader into the mind of the young man, imagining with keen perception what could be going on, for example, in the third poem “At the Time of the Accident”:

airborne, he thought. hang-
ing on time’s lost line
suffer suspension,
he thought. near-sighted
horizon. no or-
dinary flying  
falling, he thought. lain
unregainable
in median grass.
reconsider mind-
lessness, he thought.”

She courageously endeavors to inhabit his mind and understand what humans can never know: the mind of another, especially of one who has suffered trauma.

Another aspect of the subconscious is the dream, which the poet uses effectively throughout the collection. Dreams are innately metaphorical, and the “leaky ship” of “First Dream Since” adeptly explains “the space too small … to contain their what’s happened,” speaking to both the overwhelming situation and deference given to William’s mother. Later, Macarty extends the metaphor of life as ship, in this case despite the muddy circumstances of being stranded “Aground,” with the hope of waking up, and “the sea will be a magic again.”

Coma, limbo, dream – all states of in-between – where the participants linger with unacceptable loss of control. Humans want to fix things. Opposing the inability to correct the situation lies the reality in which life goes on. A ventilator becomes the mother doing for the child what the mother cannot. The imagery of baking bread offers a fleeting moment of comfort, and “the leaves fall … whether we see them or not.” Always the contradiction of daily living and surreal exists. The situation demands balance alluding again to the landscape in-between. The fluctuation between concrete and abstract show the inhabitants of Macarty’s poems caught between worlds. Are variables concrete possibilities or abstract? The outcome of the equation must balance (or else it’s not an equation).

In “New Vocabulary” characters are entering an alien land and learning a foreign language – the Latin of medicine and diagnoses. However, William is not learning that language, nor is he part of what’s happening to him despite the writer’s repeated efforts to get inside his consciousness.

Dreams continue to mark phases of mourning versus acceptance. “Second Dream Since” represents denial or hope, picturing things the way they were before. Three months into the narrative, the mother withdraws from others perhaps because she’s experiencing his withdrawal from her. Imagery of map and lost key become metaphor for finding one’s way back, unlocking closed doors. A juxtaposition of abstract enchantment and fresh peaches hammers home the conflict between hope and despair.

“Winter Field” presents another bleak landscape with funereal subtleties, a hint at closure. The poetry attempts to restore order to chaos, to graphically and concretely explicate the accident in detail, the loose lug nuts and, it could have gone badly even with the seat belt, its causes and effects, along with the survivor’s effort to fix things. From the last poem in the collection, the “If Only What If” questions will always be with us:

“if only you hit snooze
what if mid-leaving you slow to feed your fish
if only one thousandth of a second
what if one billionth of a second
if only the car keys slipped between seats
what if the car’s battery needed a jump start”

Their relevancy is felt every day.

In her heartfelt work, Macarty offers a satisfactory resolution where there is no resolution. Her instinctual writing illustrates the coping mechanism of human spirit. By sharing her suffering with the reader, she has written a tribute to her nephew and offered empathy for the human condition.

Jami B:W HeadshotJami Macarty is the author of two chapbooks: LANDSCAPE OF THE WAIT (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and MIND OF SPRING, winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award (forthcoming fall 2017). She teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University, edits the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings–Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for Anomaly (FKA Drunken Boat). She is a recipient of financial support from Banff Centre and BC Arts Council, a Pushcart Prize nominee, a finalist for the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Award, and the winner of the 2016 Real Good Poem Prize. Her poems appear in 2016-17 issues of Blood Orange Review, CV2, EVENT, The Fiddlehead, Grain, Minola Review, Prism international, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, and Vallum: Contemporary Poetry. For more info: http://www.jamimacarty.com.