Letter from the Editor
Issue #17 is a fat and diverse issue. In trying to come up with a clever intro hook, I can only reiterate a selection from the epigraphs page which seems to encapsulate the operative and organic theme of the issue:
How can poetry here be anything else
But prickly, highly-coloured, treacherous,
Both reverential and extremely vulgar?…
…Birds and frogs may sing in the self-same tree!
Partly the diversity comes in the form of prose poems mixed in without the benefit of using the device of line breaks (by Diaz, Fairbrother, Tringali and Terreson), and there are also hidden amongst the more seemingly conventional poetry (utilizing line breaks) more prose poetry (by Merck)! It is my contention that even when poetry hybridizes with prose for various reasons it is no less poetry for that. Or perhaps I should say that when there are reasons, and the work isn’t merely gratuitously prosey, it is still a poem, and no other devices will do as well as the hybridization. It’s up to you as the reader to discover why or just disagree and argue with the editor’s assessment and judgement. But I do believe Hart-Smith quoted above says it about as succinctly as I’ve ever heard it put–birds and frogs may sing in the same tree. This may implies permission and possibility. And, along with the potential insult and degradation of prose ‘masquerading’ as poetry, we have William Fairbrother ‘waking with an erection,’ as a prose poem, excerpted from his unpublished novel, on one end of the vulgarity spectrum, and examples of Steve Parker’s poetry, some of it scratching and dabbling in complementary devices such as inserting hyperlinks and erasure in the context of a sonnet structure, all of this counterpointed by more well-behaved perhaps quiet, understated and reverential lyric work of Jani and McKernan. One is not necessarily better or worse than the other, but the voices are diverse, and no less in the tree(–this issue–), not grounded, but up in the air, making noise the better for us to hear as makers and hearers, as a boisterous, polyphonic song. While I am typing this my wife has distracted me with various videos from her phone showing a man playing Pachelbel’s Canon on a giant thumb piano, someone doing the same with a great number of empty wine glasses rubbing fingers along the rims, someone else using a machine to drop synchronized marbles on big, xylophone-like appendages by cranking levers and turning belts which create a recognizable song, and a video of two women doing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on a giant piano they played by dancing across keys–so essentially they had to do with four fingers (legs/feet) instead of Bach’s ten and two feet. This gets it across figuratively as well. The mystery of the internet is that if you find and watch one video you get linked up to all these other things in a string of crazy and wonderful logic. Poetry should be, and sometimes gets to be, this lucky! A wise poet once told me that poems have a way of taking on a life of their own that we can’t follow or imagine in advance. This is consoling and counter-intuitive to what we often think working in the midst of this art as poets and editors. I’ve discovered it to be true, sometimes. It’s easy to think no one is listening and no one cares. Don’t believe it. If someone spends the hours (years?) necessary to create a Wintergaten machine and it gets seen on youtube, you can be sure poetry is also willy-nilly finding its audience.
I also need to point out that we have three large prose pieces tucked away at the end of the issue that I hope you won’t miss out on, just past Jake Tringali’s prose poetry.
One is the Artist’s Statement of our featured artist, Judith Nelson. I found this to be interesting and useful in opening up what Judith is up to through her art. Some of her work is far more abstract and less “representative” than what we usually go for at Triggerfish, but again, like prose poetry, it is no less artful or art for that. Fortunately she is very articulate as a thinker and writer regarding her purposes, intentions and creative impulses spanning five decades, and what appears abstract initially may actually be more representative than previously thought, or not, as she manipulates found objects.
The other two prose pieces stem from Penny University Press; one is a review of Bryan Merck’s chapbook, First Exit, and the other is an interview of Simon Perchik about his process and aesthetics of poetry by Steve Parker, contributor and advisory board member. This is a follow-up to our publishing of Perchik’s, D Poems. Every book we publish for download is accompanied by a review or an interview, which we link up with the download page.
Also I am happy to announce that our next publication at Penny University Press will be Zachary Scott Hamilton’s chapbook, There Is a Story in Meat. I reviewed this in a previous issue for an upcoming release by another publisher, but they never followed through with publication, and Zach decided to let us have it. It’s truly original, innovative work, and we’re excited to offer it for download, and accompany it with a link to the review which will offer a foretaste to the reader.
Lastly, David Appelbaum, author of The Spindle Tree, has written some short essays comprising a kind of poetics, focusing on individual poems from his collection and offering reflections regarding his intentions thematically and aesthetically for it. We will be making that available very soon and adding a link in the same place you can currently download a copy of his book.
I do hope you enjoy the tension between the organic unity and diversity of #17. The launch of a new issue represents a delectable labor of love, and it’s outrageous fun to see an issue come together every time. I never cease to be surprised by the results.