January: in Latin, as you know, Januraius, after Janus, god of beginnings (and by necessity endings) and transitions; the two-faced god – looking into the past and the future at once. And as I began this little note tonight, I thought I’d scratch out another of those dreadful reports in which the author, CEO-manque — reminds his audience of the past year’s achievements while providing a rosy syllabus of those to come. But, really, could you bear it? I couldn’t. (And, readers, you are not stockholders, not in the usual sense of that term, nor so easily hornswoggled!) Too, how might such an approach lead to our “secret poem(s),” the usual purpose of this introduction, anyway? No, better to take our cue from those poems, I think. Both of which take as their organizing principle the vestibule. Appropriate, no?, to this drafty, unfurnished room of a month, with its “blank white movies” as Jim Harrison has it, at which we stare, day after day, our heads stuffed with the dank straw of the past holidays — les petites croisades of the familial with their maddening frivolities, their gossip and laughable contretemps — or worse, to me, the drudgeries of work, or at least routine, that lie ahead, endlessly. In any case, the vestibule: not a place intended for mere lingering, but in these exquisite ruminations an “in-between…queasy” space in which we might at least for a moment consider more seriously what lies beyond our present sensibilities (or indeed is our ever-present residence if we but knew it); or eschew “etiquette” and speak “intimate[ly]..in words that “cauterize/ all wounds to the truth.” (Both poets, by the way, come with the advantage of having so generously advertised their talents in our journal, as well.)
In the Vestibule
The in-between is queasy
but all is in between.
Midsummer green? Monotonous
when everything is green.
The sea: a glittering question
when everything is sea.
This vestibule? Unsettling.
I teeter first one way
and then the other. In
or out? I am a fool
to be so caught off balance.
All is vestibule.
—Rachel Hadas, Plume: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry, Issue # 17
What etiquette holds us back
from more intimate speech,
especially now, at the end of the world?
Can’t we begin a conversation
here in the vestibule,
then gradually move it inside?
What holds us back
from saying things outright?
We’ve killed the earth.
Yet we speak of other things.
Our words should cauterize
all wounds to the truth.
—Chase Twichell, from Dog Language (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)
And so: adjourned.
Or not quite. For we have our own bits of business to conclude before you depart for the much more interesting pursuits that follow in this issue.
The first – despite my avowals above: our new look, long promised and…not quite ready for delivery. Pushed back to February due to various interruptions. Many thanks, though, to Heather Henderson, for her many hours spent on this project. I am pleased with what she has produced so far, and I hope you will be too.
Next, as part of that re-launch, you might notice the acknowledgment of the support provided by Saint Petersburg College, where I have taught for some twenty years, and which has graciously agreed to fund Plume in both its online and print anthology incarnations. Special gratitude extended to our college President and Dean of Communications, Doctors Law and Campbell respectively. In many ways, Plume has found a home, and due also to the efforts of our publisher Madhat/Evolution Arts, and Marc Vincenz in particular, seems poised to enter the coming years on solid financial footing.
Ah – AWP. A reminder: Friday, April 10, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the Minneapolis Convention Center, Conference Room 209 A & B, Level 2, there will be a joint reading with Plume & Fulcrum (with a full bar). My request for readers has been answered – many times over, I’m afraid. (How generous our contributors!) As noted, on a first come, first served basis as their emails arrived in my Inbox, the line-up (with perhaps a bit of tweaking in order yet) is as follows:
Page Hill Stargazer
Please come by if you can: I plan to be there and hope to meet so many of you who have remained far too long faceless presences on my computer screen!
And another entry in your calendar, if you are in the Saint Petersburg area: Richard Blanco will be the featured poet at the third annual Plume Poetry Series reading, 23 March, @ 7: 30, The Palladium Theater. Details TBA.
The Plume Anthology of Poetry 2014 is all but completed and will be sent for layout shortly. Preface from Terese Svoboda, with an extended Featured Selection of new work by Afaa Weaver. An astonishing (why, I continue to wonder, but then recall that line from Simic — don’t wake the damn cards!) compendium of new work from some of the best poets working today, national and international. Again, more to come. For the moment: much gratitude to both – and all.
Our cover art this month is from Anne Graaf, a South African artist, art historian and poet, who lives in Paris. She is married to composer/musician Christopher Culpo. She is a painter and maker of artist’s books. (Her Fine Art MA degree thesis, on contemporary book art, informs her practice). An art historian, specializing in Outsider Art, she has written two books, published by Penguin, South Africa, (under the name Anne Emslie) and numerous articles. Her poetry is published in various publications and, most recently, in an anthology of African poetry, Africa, My Africa, by Sun Publishers. Recent exhibitions of her artist’s’ books in France include the exhibition, curated by Caroline Corre, Elles métamorphosent le Livre II at the gallery, Espace des femmes, rue Jacob, Paris 6ème. February and March 2013, an exhibition of artists books, The Fan Books, at Atelier du la Main d’ Or, Paris. July 2012. And a contributing artist to group show, Be:e, at la Porte Peintre, France. 2012-2013 and an exhibition of paintings at the Chateau Cremault summer festival 2014. She continues, too, to regularly exhibit her art work in South Africa.
Next up, after this issue’s Featured Selection from Daniel Bourne and Tadeusz Dziewanowski in collaboration, look for extended work from Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated by Ani Gjika; Nin Andrews; Gennady Aygi and the great Russian Tatar painter Igor Vulokh, also in collaboration; Linda Pastan; Chris Kennedy; Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda; with others just appearing on the horizon. (Here, too, again, let me add as always: those with projects that might be suitable for the Featured Selection please do contact us with your proposal at firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Finally, New Work Received this month includes pieces from G.C. Waldrep, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jeffrey Skinner, Martha Serpas, Linda Bierds, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, C.D. Wright, Sandra Alcosser, Brenda Hillman, Christina Davis, Deborah Landau, Diane Wakoski, Maureen McLane, Tomas Morin, Jennifer L. Knox, and Christopher Buckley.
As always, I do hope you enjoy the issue!