If a pervasive theme in last issue’s folio was contraction, it strikes me that the poems in this folio are interested in expansion: leaping across boundaries of genre and form, casting concerns beyond the limits of the page, and engaging in multifaceted conversations.
Turning outward and negotiating the location of self within the wider world, a number of poems here fearlessly embark on contemporary investigations of Big Questions. A few: Boris Poplavsky, translated by Karin Borowicz explores the nature of time, as does Sun Yung Shin’s poem with its lyric disruptions of time, geography, and myth. Elena Karina Bryne seeks truth, and William Bernhard’s “Coyote” looks at the complex relationship between humans and nature (of which we are, of course, a part). Kate Schapria’s “Public Meat Notebook” skillfully undermines our expectations of language and meaning at every turn, while simultaneously performing as a social critique.
The self turned outward meets other selves. There are intriguing conversations that occur throughout this folio: Gray Jacobik approaches the private spheres of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life through a series of persona poems. In a different kind of conversation with another powerful woman, Rebecca Hazelton talks back to Emily Dickinson in her acrostic poems. There’s also dialogue across media—I’m particularly pleased to be featuring the audio work of Duriel E. Harris and a graphic poem by Jai Arun Ravine. And true to Drunken Boat’s vision we feature poems that bring contemporary concerns and approaches to traditional forms, such as Edward Folger’s sestina, which (literally) links the form to our DNA, and a selection from Gene Tanta’s highly dexterous abecedarian. Too, there’s the literal conversation of translation, including exciting translations and “transversions” of Paul Braffort’s OULIPO poems by Gabriela Jauregui and Amaranth Borsuk.
All this seems fitting, since this folio itself is a kind of conversation between poetry editors. I had the privilege of coming on board the Drunken Boat last year, and was fortunate to gain the wise guidance and kind friendship of former poetry and managing editor, Leslie McGrath. In the months that we worked together, we shaped the folio with a shared editorial perspective. Since her departure, assistant editor Michelle Brown and I have continued the dialogue. Truly, this collection of poems presents an invigorating exchange of ideas, aesthetics, and approaches that marks of the best kind of conversation. Leslie disembarked from the Boat this spring; many thanks and best of luck to her as she pursues her own writing.
The crucial conversation in poetry is, of course, that between the text and the reader. I hope, as you make your way through the folio, you find yourself engaged in the kind of stimulating conversation that helps us realize, in the words of Ryo Yamaguchi, “What have I brought to myself that I didn’t even see—”