Dave Mehler, Self-Portrait with Clouds
Letter from the Editor
Toward the end of April I received an email from my Ukrainian friend, Dmitry Blizniuk, inquiring if Triggerfish still planned to publish the Russian poets in his network whose poems he’d forwarded to us and that I’d already accepted previously. He was fully aware that the situation may have changed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He wished to clarify that the Russian poets he knows are not bad people, and not to be blamed for the policies and aggression of their government leaders. Boycotts of Russian artists and musicians (Alexander Boldachev as one example) were being conducted in Europe and the States and elsewhere. To offer one very absurd example, even a tree in Belgium planted by Ivan Turgenev over a hundred years ago had been disqualified from being included in a tree contest. Perhaps you’ve caught some of this in the news? I assured Dmitry we would publish his Russian poet friends’ work as planned and all the more so if he wished it to be so. It seems clear to me that boycotting artists is not only counterproductive but increases the rifts and injustice.
Dmitry’s email went as follows:
“Dear David Thank you, everything is great!I am sending you original poems in Russian and Ukrainian.About me. We are alive. Recently published me The London Magazine (UK)https://www.thelondonmagazine.org/poetry-a-winter-morning-by-dmitry-blizniuk/Russian troops – maniacs – shell the peaceful areas of Kharkov every day and night.
With love from Ukraine.”
With love from Ukraine! Dmitry is a fine poet. How else should we cope with madness, violence, war and uninvited foreign military invasion than through poems? This is how Dmitry does it. I think of Osip Mandelstam’s poem recited to friends at a party mocking Stalin’s moustache as a wriggling cockroach, which was repeated and got him imprisoned and eventually killed.
I would also encourage you to visit this link and hear another more recent poem of Dmitry Blizniuk’s read by Timothy Green (for the poetry journal, Rattle) from Rattlecast #143 at 4:25 minutes in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF1CHoFSX1Y
Dmitry, and his friend and translator Sergey Gerasimov, live in Kharkov. My daughter, who spent time in Ukraine for a couple of years teaching elementary school through the Peace Corps, informs me that Kharkov is on the eastern, “Russian” side of Ukraine where fighting is most heated and Russians are fellow countrymen and most like brothers. Dmitry and Sergey have directly or indirectly led to us many poets across eastern Europe, Ukraine, Latvia and Russia, some of whom are included in this issue.
In the early days of Triggerfish we hoped to publish outsiders and joked that our mission would not be complete until we published a poet from Siberia. Who knows, perhaps by now we have? One of the things I’ve gradually figured out over the years is that all poets are outsiders, even those who for all appearances seem situated on the inside or perhaps to have achieved some level of celebrity status (illusory or not). The real thing comes usually only after death. Talk to Hopkins or Dickinson about this. Some poets actually revel in their anonymity, but it’s also important to be read and get the word out which is what we try to do.
Welcome to Issue #28!
We have another huge issue overflowing with great poetry by many, many fine poets, and the engaging viewpoint of Charles Hood’s sly photographic lens.
I recommend the way forward through the current madness will be to move toward one another rather than away by the kind of work poetry and art can do. I hope you enjoy reading and clicking through this issue! It was a pleasure to produce with so many hands involved.