Readers: Welcome to Plume Issue # 55 –
February: A cold snap here in Florida as I write – 42 degrees last night. I know. But remember: we also have Rick Scott (who has denied the ACA again and emptied the mental health care coffers, for starters), some of the lowest high school graduation and annual income rates in the country, and seem to have cornered the market on spice-induced assaults and generally ludicrously ill-thought out behavior of all stripes. We do love our race-baiters, our stand-your-ground’ers and machete-wielders, and our burglars who tend to fall asleep on the job, having consumed and amidst the detritus of their labors. Clichés, of course, hyperbole – though it doesn’t feel like it, most days. And then the news of David Bowie’s death arrived on Monday. Of his life and music I’ll remain silent – whatever I wrote would seem trivial, extraneous. Suffice to note that a) I had to meet a wealthy “arts entrepreneur” type yesterday – wearing a Ziggy pin in her very sharp lapel, and b) tapping out these words at just past 8 a.m. the initial strains of “Space Oddity” reach me from the under-construction back room, as hipster-bearded Will and ex-UF linebacker De Juan go about their business; if today is like yesterday, Bowie will be a continuous presence thanks to local radio and streaming marathons. And yet Bowie’s passing seemingly so strangely bereft of sadness, professed or real. In short, his – or rather his work, the distinction blurs more than most — was a sort of light-fingered tragedy, democratic, elegant and shadowy. One thinks of that little phrase from Desnos: “a phantom among phantoms…which will go on moving, stepping lightly across the sundial of your life…”
But, from death, even at a remove, to life, here.
How happy I am by contrast to announce the addition to Plume’s staff of the remarkable Hèlène Cardona, as Co-International Editor (with Marc Vincenz). Hèlène – well: here’s her bio note:
Hélène Cardona is a poet, literary translator, and actor, author of Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016), Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013), winner of the USA Best Book Award in Poetry, the Pinnacle Book Award in Poetry, and the Reader’s Favorite Book Award in Poetry; Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press, 2016), recipient of a Hemingway Grant, her translation of Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac; Ce que nous portons (Éditions du Cygne, 2014), her translation of Dorianne Laux; and The Astonished Universe (Red Hen Press, 2006).
She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College & Loyola Marymount University, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. She co-edits Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics, contributes essays to The London Magazine, and is co-producer of the documentary Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling. Publications include Washington Square, Poetry International, Irish Literary Times, The Warwick Review, World Literature Today, The Los Angeles Review & elsewhere.
And that’s the short version. As I say, very pleased indeed to have her aboard the good(ish) ship Plume.
Last month’s issue was marked by the much-anticipated arrival of our first Plume Book Reviews, by the estimable Adam Tavel. His insightful – and superbly composed — considerations of “race, history, and memory” in Daneen Wardrop’s Cyclorama and Reginald Dwayne Betts Bastards of the Reagan Era were uniformly well-received. His work adds a special luster to our pages, don’t you think? A gravitas, perhaps, a lively even playful iteration of that state. Look for Adam’s thoughts on Gretta Stoddart’s third book of poetry Alive Alive O in this issue.
Once more, for those interested in having their placed under consideration for review, in Adam’s words:
We are excited to broaden the mission of Plume to include reviews, criticism, and book notes by members of our staff. While we will not consider unsolicited submissions in these areas, we invite presses and authors to submit complimentary copies of poetry collections, chapbooks, verse translations, and studies on poetics—published within the past twelve months—for possible review. Diversity and inclusiveness are among our core values, so we are particularly interested in receiving titles from small presses, first-time authors, and poets from underrepresented backgrounds. Books will not be returned and receipt of materials in no way indicates an intent or obligation to review. Works that fail to pique our interest will be donated to local schools and charities. Please direct queries to Adam Tavel, Reviews Editor, at email@example.com, and direct review copies to the postal address below. Magazine submissions and extraneous correspondence sent to either address will be deleted unread.
Adam Tavel, Reviews Editor
P.O. Box 80
Quantico, MD 21856
What else? The rehabilitation of the online site continues – you might or might not notice its manifestations, however, as much of the work is “back room” stuff, designed to allow Plume to offer a more intuitive and frictionless reading experience.
And: the Featured Selection: Our feature this month, from Emmanuel Moses, is not to be missed, not a word, including the magical introductory interview conducted by Associate Editor Nancy Mitchell.
Shall I remind you, again, to subscribe to our Newsletter? I shall. As there, every month, aside from bits of business and upcoming Plume-related events, you will find a “secret poem” introduced by some luminary or other. This month Ed Meek does the honors. His selected poem: Seamus Heaney’s “Mid-term Break.”
An update: The print Plume Anthology of Poetry V 4 is now filled. Work remains on the Preface, but my mercifully brief Introduction is completed, and we have our Featured Poet –W.S. Di Piero, I am very proud to announce. The introduction alone — an interview conducted by the indefatigable Nancy Mitchell – is worth the price of admission. And the poems – you, too, I believe, will be delighted and moved to think and feel as I have not been in ages.
Once again, a reading in support of the anthology is firming up – AWP makes for a hectic LA scene, of course, but we should have avenue, date, and time to announce shortly – and the roster! Sterling. When the previous items are in place, it too will be released.
Penultimately, we are in the process of putting together readings in support of the anthology. Terese Svoboda will be coming to Studio@620 in St. Petersburg, March 13, and we have tentative dates in Cambridge and New Orleans. Paris, 30 May, at Shakespeare & Co. is set, too, and we are looking into a venue in Zurich – finger’s x-ed. Anyone who finds this of the slightest interest, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last, our cover art this month comes from the multi-talented Ms. Mitchell. Entitled “Script” I think you find it both aesthetically pleasing and bone-chilling in the very best way.
Nota bene: as was the case last issue, New Work Received this month will not appear as usual in this space given the number of poets who have sent work for the print anthology and our online iteration – a great kindness for which I remain grateful. And by which astonished.
As always, I hope you enjoy the issue!