Welcome to Issue # 27 of Plume.
As in the Editor’s Note, I pause here, as I have paused many times since, for a moment of silence marking the passing of Seamus Heaney. Mr. Heaney has been eulogized, if that is the term for the joyful mourning of his work and its celebration, and although I would have loved to have been able to run a poem of his in Plume — as would any editor! in whatever journal he or she helmed — I thought the following interview from the Paris Review, conducted by Henri Cole, might be a treat for those who haven’t read it.
Still: the world moves.
Our inbox is filled with new arrivals — remember, we take work from all sources, and though many “well-known” poets appear in our pages, we constantly receive astonishing new unsolicited work. And though the volume can be daunting, as I observed last time, I do read each and every submission — though later that I’d like as Plumebecomes, itself, a (little) bit well-known, and poets learn to trust us and send us their work unrequested. You will see these works interspersed each issue with more familiar names. I hope you enjoy the act of discovery of new voices as much as I do.
This month, David Cudar makes a fine return with some interesting — and per usual eccentric — recommendations below. Last month, Molly Lou Freeman was kind enough to step in — and did so in grand fashion, as many of you have noted.
Our cover art this month is new, for Plume: a vintage science gif discovered on Tumblr. I like it a lot — as I hope you do, too. We’ll be back to color work shortly.
As remarked upon last time, too, our Featured Selection continues to flourish: so many of you have written to tell me that you find this new feature your favorite part of our little journal. And, though I wish I could say this was long in the planning stages, of course it was not: a whim, a why not? that has apparently materialized into a useful space, a niche, between the usual one or two poems and the long work. And I think it is its diversity — here an essay, there collaboration, over there a multi-media presentation — that is responsible for its growing popularity. Perhaps poets have discovered that they can do with it what they like (as Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton remarked not long ago to me), and this has its appeal, surely. As has become my habit, I urge any interested parties with longer work to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org: again, we’re open to just about any form and subject.
Aside from the above-noted Featured Seduction by Bruce Smith, this issue consists of new work from Carrie Etters, Chloe Hokum, Cleopatra Mathis, David River, Hsia Yu (translated by Steven Bradbury) J Ally Rosser, Lee Upton, Jennifer Michel Hecht, Scott Cairns, Stephen Dunn, and Sylva Fiche ova (translated by the author with Stuart Freibert).
Finally, for new work received, please see our Editor’s Note this issue.
September Book Recommendations from David Cudar
The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders
Not a book for the faint of heart: its pages are filled with graphic photographs of murder scenes. However, Flanders’ thesis is both compelling and original; reworking Wilde’s dictum that life copies art, she contends that real murders fuel stories of murders which produce an ever-developing art of murder. A guilty pleasure.
The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee
Coeztee’s first novel since Summertime, this is an allegory told in dialogue. Never comfortable writing the same book twice, Coetzee seems to look backward to Saramago. The meaning of memory, family, and the other are examined with the precision we have come to expect from Coetzee.
Here and Now: Letters (2008-2011) by Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee
Two brilliant writers who interact with honesty and vulnerability. Their “conversations” speak volumes about their respective characters — the book is wonderful in many ways, but mostly because it allows the reader to feel a part of this tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte, as if the men were talking late into the evening and you are with them at the kitchen table.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
A mystery novel that becomes so dense, it becomes metaphysical. Pessl’s writing is dark and reminiscent of Angela Carter. Well worth the price of admission.
Kafka: The Years of Insight by Reiner Stach
A biography that reads like a novel. And, despite its focus on only a decade, provides a key into the life and work of Kafka unlike almost anything before it. Absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in one of the progenitors of modern literature.
My Lunches with Orson by Peter Biskind
The long-rumored private conversations which were taped between Welles and director Jaglom were discovered gathering dust. Edited by Peter Biskind, these conversations are witty, poignant, and truly entertaining. “F” is for Fabulous.
MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
The final book in a ‘trilogy’ beginning with Year of the Flood. A dystopian fantasy about the impending consequences of modern life, allegorical in the same manner as The Handmaid’s Tale, but with a different target: science rather than religion and with a much wider arc. Speculative fiction worthy of the idea.
Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem
The writer who made his name with Motherless Brooklyn, a novel about a detective with Tourette’s syndrome, turns his attention to Queens and Greenwich. The novel examines the lives of a mother and her daughter, both sirens of sorts, and their relationships to each other, to men, and to politics: the personal is the political. His most complex and enjoyable novel to date.
Lives of the Poets by Michael Schmidt
This encyclopedic work chronicles the development of English-language poetry historically and critically. Brilliant, incisive, and written with deftness and acuity, this is a book to be read and then left within reach.
Dear Life by Alice Munro
Munro always spies the commotion of ordinary life. This excellent, new collection shows her at her best, revealing the profound and absurd that lingers in the mundane. Banality has never seemed so consequential.
As always, I do hope you enjoy the issue!