Newsletter Issue #24 June, 2013

Newsletter Issue #24 June, 2013
June 15, 2013 Plume

Readers —

Welcome to Issue # 24 of Plume.

As you will soon see, this issue marks an anniversary: we are two years old.  And with what does one commemorate such a (meager) milestone? Why a “special” issue, of course: a dreaded term, yes? And one I have promised to avoid — and until now a promise I have kept: no contests, no advertisements, no themes, no spe…ah. There. Still, forgive me if just this once we produce a Plume just the slightest bit out of the ordinary: we will return to form in July. But for now — as a gift to ourselves, but also to you, readers, and in gratitude for those who believed in Plume from the outset — took a leap of faith — we reprise our initial issue, featuring most of the poets represented there: Amy Gerstler, Christopher Kennedy, Denise Duhamel, Kimberly Johnson, Mark Jarman, Nin Andrews, Rae Armantrout, Stuart Dybek, and Terese Svoboda. Ricardo Pau-Llosa, John Skoyles, and Juan Felipe Herrera  make an even dozen. Or thirteen, including as we do our “Featured Selection” poet Rachel HadasCharles Bernstein’s submission arrived too late, alas, to be included in this issue as it would have been, but, as his recent email states, he is with us “in spirit.” We’ll run his poem next month.

This month’s cover art is from Robaldo Enrique Rodriguez, (b. Holguín, Cuba, 1964) a graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana.  He left Cuba for Spain in 1991, where he had a distinguished career.  He presently lives in Miami.  More at:

The above-noted “Featured Selection” this month is “Ten Poems”, from the marvelous Rachel Hadas. Along with the works themselves we include an email interview I conducted recently with Ms. Hadas.

To whet your appetite, a brief review of her new book, The Golden Road, from the NY Times Book Review:

By Rachel Hadas.
TriQuarterly/Northwestern University, paper, $16.95.

Hadas is sometimes classified as a New Formalist, but it’s a misleading and restrictive label, seeing as how she has mixed free and formal verse ever since her 1975 debut, “Starting From Troy.” Some of her previous 14 volumes possess cool, classical surfaces and meditate like essays in abstract language. Still, her best poems have always used form to control the undercurrents of feeling and have increasingly fixed on the personal – love, loss and the sublime, including the uncanny power of dreams, her own and “some unguessed-at stranger’s.” The most powerful poems in her latest book, “The Golden Road,” build from “Strange Relation,” her 2011 memoir of her husband’s decline into dementia. “Boston Naming Test” reprises the facts of one chapter but transforms them forcibly: her husband’s silence becomes “a sheet of paper either blank / or scribbled over with an alphabet / nobody can read” and “a calm sea / closing over your head.” Her array of metrical forms is impressive too, but she deploys them flexibly so that some seemingly free poems are really measured, with varied line lengths. This powerful, autumnal book ends elegantly: the title poem makes Hadas’s personal story universal through the archetypes of season, sunlight and a curving road, where the speaker sees her son coming the opposite way and grasps how “the living pass the dead.”

Matthew Brennan is the author of “The House With the Mansard Roof,” a collection of poems, and “The Sea-Crossing of Saint Brendan,” a verse-narrative.

And it seems this new “Featured Selection” has caught on — a number of readers have commented that is their favorite section of Plume. Who knew? As usual, an idea that popped into my very small mind one day, and after making the usual rounds of our various staff committee, and upon receiving and poring over  their well-considered reports… I kid: we just thought it might be good and so here it is.  In fact, aside from those already in the queue, we have on tap a multi-media presentation (visual art/jazz improve accompaniment to the poems) from Hank Lazar and an intriguing poem series written from the POV of Gregor Samsa from Christopher Kennedy. As you know, we remain open to your suggestions: if you have an extended-form project — review, graphic poems, collaboration, video, etc. — that you believe would suit the format, please do send to us at

We are happy to note that David Cudar return with book recommendations this month, with, on the horizon, occasional long-for reviews of books of interest. Many thanks to Ron Slate for allowing me to make a few recommendations of my own (along with 29 other poets, editors, and reviewers) on his website, The Seawall.

Here are David’s selections for this month:

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Sedaris has entered the Pantheon of comic satire. There is a quality about his writing which, like a hybrid of Montaigne and Thurber, is sophisticated and devastatingly hilarious.  His deprecating “auto-biographical” accounts of everyday life allow virtually all of us see ourselves within each anecdote.  This book, like all his others, is simply brilliant.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

A coming-of-age story, which asks the question: “What happened to the world while I was growing up?”  The story is a smart and nuanced novel about the ritual of childhood, the promises we make to never lose our connection. The Watergate scandal and the post-American loss of innocence anti-rhythms offered a counter narrative. The Virgin Suicidespeppered with The Big Chill. It is ambitious, stealthy, and perceptive, but most of all authentic.

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

An epic and daring novel that subverts identity and will dazzle the reader  with an unforgettable landscape of North Korea, making it more than a news sound-bite with a fill-in-the-blank bad joke. Winner of the Pulitzer for its penetrating look into the secret spaces of the human heart.

The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom

A most impressive debut novel, historical fiction unruly with inventiveness, The Blood of Heaven tells of the formation of US south, an area once called West Florida. The author, only 26, has crafted a gripping love story of a young man struggling through the tangled religious ferocity to find his place in the turbulent and violent world of a young America. Cormac McCarthy and O’Connor come to mind.

Cities Are Good for You by Leo Hollis

Hollis has written a book that indicates cities are where 70% of the world’s population will be living by 2050.  The book is a mélange of interviews, history, scientific data, and anecdotes, which sometimes hint and other times claim: that cities are the way of the future.  Unlike the vegetable paradise of our own, the Romantics or the terrified speculations of the Modernists, Hollis, like  Buckminster Fuller, presents evidence that cities are good for us.  An interesting book, but I’m still stock-piling my bunker with water.

The Unknown University by Roberto Bolaño

The Unknown University is the deluxe edition of Bolaño’s poetry.  Poetry he always considered as the superior art form.  Like many geniuses, Bolaño wanted the outlet he could not fully possess, and had he been a less brilliant novelist, this book would be as excellent in many ways indeed: he freely crossed boundaries writing stories in verse, poems in prose, and pieces of micro-fiction.  And as is the case with any master, Bolaño was sui generis.  This book, like all his others, is well worth reading.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

As the title suggests, this is a book about the language of flowers, the Victorian language for flowers.  A debut novel that opens a field of lost signification.  Certain flowers have meaning: romance, grief, mistrust, solitude. Traveling back and forth in time within the narrative, the reader learns the history of the semiotics of flowers, but also the possibility of redemption for a lost soul.

My Struggle: Book One by Karl Knausgaard

Part one of a six-part series.  Knausgaard,  44, has been compared to Proust.  Knausgaard is something of a rarity, speaking painfully and plainly honestly of his desires to consider death, fear, failure, love. Painfully honest, ruthless, and avoiding irony, he wrestles with the sheer banality of life, those ordinary moments that flitter by because we cannot tolerate them.  Like a surgeon operating upon himself without anesthesia, Knausgaard wants to find the vivid spot where life lives without denial — a masterpiece!

Oblivion by Hector Abad

Twenty years in the writing, Héctor Abad Oblivion is a memorial to the author’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, whose criticism of the Colombian regime led to his murder by paramilitaries in 1987.  The book paints an unforgettable picture of a man who followed his conscience and paid for it with his life during one of the darkest periods in Latin America’s recent history.

Home by Toni Morrison

A luminescent book.  Morrison’s gifts are as visionary and majestic as they have ever been. There is a starkness about her prose that loses none of her signature gorgeous and poetic heft.  It seems that her concision has only made her prose better, and touches on themes from The Bluest Eye to Beloved.  It is a wonderfully executed and unflinchingly examination of the painful human condition.

For new work received — apart from the generous offerings of those already noted —  poets who, by the way, had a very small window to get their work to me, as, well, the idea to do a “special” issue did not arrive in my mind until a few weeks ago, per usual — please see the Editor’s Note.

Last — the list below, admittedly repeated in that Editor’s Note (I wanted to reach everyone, and if you’re like me, the Editor’s Note is not always the first item to which I turn): a list of all who have appeared in our pages since that initial issue or soon will— poets, translators, visual artists. I must say, I’d never seen, or thought to look for, the contributors in a single setting. To say this is an impressive roster would be boastful, I know — so I’ll refrain… And yet, much, much less about Plume’s success, such as it is, than an opportunity to recognize and to thank — at once —  these generous artists for their work.

Addonizio, Kim
Agodon, Kelli Russell
Allen, Dick
Alexander, Meena
Alexander, Pamela
Alexie, Sherman
Anderson, Nathalie
Andrews, Nin
Angel, Ralph
Armantrout, Rae
Armitage, Simon
Arnold, Elizabeth
Arvio, Sarah
Atkinson, Jennifer
Aygi, Gennady
Babcock, Julie
Baggott, Julianna
Baker, David
Balakian, Peter
Ball, Angela
Barbarese, J.T.
Barker, Brian
Barnes, Annette
Bass, Ellen
Beeder, Amy
Behn, Robin
Bernard, April
Bernstein, Charles
Bertolino, James
Black, Sophie Cabot
Bliunus-Dunn, Sally
Bogan, Don
Bohince, Paula
Bolt, Thomas
Booker, Stephen Todd
Bonnefoy, Yves
Borer, Alain
Boruch, Marianne
Bosch, Daniel
Bourne, Daniel
Broek, Michael
Buckley, Christopher
Bursky, Rick
Byrd, Sigman
Cairns, Scott
Calaferte, Louis
Calbert, Cathleen
Campo, Rafael
Cassian, Nina
Causey, Carrie
Char, Rene
Charlesworth, Sarah
Chernoff, Maxine
Chirinos,  Eduardo
Christopher, Nicholas
Chuan, Xi
Cigale, Alex
Clark, Patricia
Claus, Hugo
Codrescu, Andrei
Cohen, Andrea
Collier, Michael
Collins, Billy
Collins, Martha
Colmer, David
Cook, Rebecca
Cooley, Nicole
Cooley, Peter
Crawford, Tom
Cruz, Cynthia
Culhane, Brian
D’Aguiar, Fred
Du Bouchet, Andre
Di Piero, W.S.
Daniels, Jim
Davis, Christina
Davis, Lydia
Dawes, Kwame
Debelja, Aleš
Dennis, Carl
Derry, Alice
Dimkovska  Lidija
Dobyns, Stephen
Dolven, Jeff
Donnelly, Patrick
Dubie, Norman
Dubrow, Jehanne
Duhamel, Denise
Dunn, Stephen
Dybek, Stuart
Eady, Cornelius
Emerson, Claudia
Equi, Elaine
Estes, Angie
Etter, Carrie
Finch, Annie
Fischerova, Sylva
Flenniken, Kathleen
Ford, Katie
Freeman, Molly Lou
Friebert, Stuart
Fried, Daisy
Frost, Carol
Gallagher, Tess
Galassi, Jonathan
Galvin, Brendan
Galvin, Martin
George, Alice Rose
Gerstler, Amy
Gibbons, Reginald
Goldberg, Beckian Fritz
Goodyear, Dana
Greenbaum, Jessica
Gorman, Al
Griswold, Eliza
Graham, Jorie
Groom, Kelle
Grotz, Jennifer
Hacker, Marilyn
Hadas, Rachel
Hahn, Kimiko
Hambly, Barbara
Harrison, Jeffrey
Harrison, Leslie
Hecht, Jennifer Michael
Hejinian, Lyn
Henry, Brian
Herrera, Juan Felipe
Hicok, Bob
Hillman, Brenda
Hirshfield, Jane
Hoagland, Tony
Hoover, Paul
Howe, Fanny
Howell, Christopher
Huddle, David
Hudgins, Andrew
Hummer, T.R.
Hunt, Laird
Irwin, Mark
Jarman, Mark
Johnson, Kimberly
Johnston, Devin
Jollimore, Troy
Jordan, Judy
Kallet, Marilyn
Kapovich, Katia
Kasischke, Laura
Kendall, Stuart
Kennedy, Christopher
Kenney, Richard
Khoury-Ghata, Vénus
Kinsella, John
Kirby, David
Klein, Lucas
Knox, Jennifer L.
Krisak, Len
Krolow, Karl
Kronen, Steven
Lamon, Laurie
Larkin, Joan
Larsen, Lance
Lasky, Dorothea
Laux, Dorianne
Lazer, Hank
Lea, Sydney
Lee, Karen An-hwei
Levin, Phillis
Levitan, Alexis
Liardet, Tim
Lifshin, Lyn
Liu, Timothy
Logan, William
Longenbach, James
Lux, Thomas
Mackey, Mary
Malroux, Claire
Manning, Maurice
Martin, Diane
Mathis, Cleopatra
Matsuda, Lawrence
Maulpoix, Jean-Michel
Maxwell, Glyn
Maynard, Christopher
McCombs, Davis
McDuff, David
McGrath, Campbell
McLane, Maureen
McPherson, Sandra
Meinke, Peter
Meitner, Erika
Mendes, Guy
Miller, Wayne
Minda, Ana
Mlinko, Ange
Moldaw, Carol
Motion, Andrew
Muhlin, Jay
Muldoon, Paul
Muratori, Fred
Muske-Dukes, Carol
Nooteboom, Cees
Novey, Idra
Nurkse, D.
Nutter, Geoffrey
Olds, Sharon
Orlowsky, Dzvinia
Ossip, Kathleen
Ostriker, Alicia
Padel, Ruth
Pankey, Eric
Papadopoulos, Melina
Parini, Jay
Pastan, Linda
Pau-Llosa, Ricardo
Peacock, Molly
Perros, Georges
Phillips, Carl
Piercy, Marge
Pinsky, Robert
Polonskaya, Anzhelina
Powell, D.A.
Prufer, Kevin
Pugh, Christina
Purpura, Lia
Raab, Lawrence
Racz, G.J.
Raeber, Kuno
Revell, Donald
Rios, Alberto
Rivard, David
Rocha, Flávia
Rodriquez, Robaldo Enrique
Rogers, Hoyt
Rosser, J. Allyn
Rossini, Clare
Sadoff, Ira
Sala, Jerome
Šalamun, Tomaž
Salter, Mary Jo
Sarishvili, Maya
Schulman, Grace
Schwartz, Lloyd
Seaton, Maureen
Serpas, Martha
Seshadri, Vijay
Shapiro, Alan
Shapiro, David
Sharp, Meighan
Sheehan, Julie
Shumate, David
Simmons, Laurie
Skinner, Jeffrey
Skloot, Floyd
Skoyles, John
Slate, Ron
Sleigh, Tom
Smith, Bruce
Smith, Charlie
Smith, Michael
Smith, Ron
Smith, R.T.
Snidjers, A.L.
Spaar, Lisa Russ
Spires, Elizabeth
Springer, Jane
Stanton, Maura
Starzinger, Page
Stine, Alison
Svoboda, Terese
Swensen, Cole
Sze, Arthur
Szybist, Mary
Tafdrup, Pia
Taren, Michael Thomas
Taylor, John
Tobin, Daniel
Trakl, Georg
Trowbridge, William
Twichell, Chase
Ulanov, Alexander
Upton, Lee
Valentine, Jean
Vogelsang, Arthur
Vreuls, Diane
Wachtel, Andrew
Wagoner, David
Wakoski, Diane
Waldrep, G.C.
Waldrop, Bernard
Waldrop, Rosmarie
Warren, Rosanna
Weigl, Bruce
Wunderlich, Mark
Young, C. Dale
Young, David
Yu, Hsia
Zapruder, Matthew
Zeqo, Moikom

Many thanks, as always — and I do hope you enjoy the issue — despite its frightening “special-ness.”

Daniel Lawless
Editor, Plume