SHARKPACK Poetry Review

An imprint of FATHOMBOOKS.

Poetry Magazine’s July/August Issue

The latest issue of Poetry features 33 poems by 21 poets, two-thirds of whom are male.

The longest poem, James Logenback’s “Allegory” is 572 words long, while the shortest poem, Fanny Howe’s “Yellow Goblins,” has only 30 words. This issue’s average poem has 166 words, though poems by females average about 15 words shorter. The average Poetry poem has 24 lines, each having about seven words per line.

Of flora, this issue contains elk-sedge, pine, rosewood, wheat, conifers, more wheat, clover, more conifers, a fern, a cedar, a fir, a Lodgepole, a blue spruce, an iris, evergreens, and plenty of plain old grass.

Of fauna, this issue contains a goat, two elephants (from different poets!), an ox, a horse, some squirrels, a robin, some Holsteins (a kind of cattle), a stickleback (a sort of fish) in a jam jar, waterfowl, songbirds, a frog, a cricket, Luna moths, some stingrays, a lion, a rat, a stick insect, fish, whales, and more crickets.

International in scope, these poems transport readers to Guatemala, the Yucatan, the Louisiana Delta, Agion Oros (in Greece), Lake Ontario, India, Athens (Greece again), Florida, Versailles, Portugal, an Italian hillscape,  the Mississippi, The World Trade Center, Davies Symphony Hall (in San Francisco), Cologne, the Forest of Wearisome Sadness, Sirius the Dog Star, a Waffle House, and ‘a place to surmise blessedness.’

These settings are inhabited by lifeguards, shopkeepers, a scout, trackers, a busker with a harp, stone killers, a Portuguese apothecary, a woman who fills and seals samosas in the uproar of a standing fan, a docent, slaves, a magus, a widow, a husband, a homeless girl with a stick, a composer, a genius, a flautist, a clerk, soldiers, a critic, an exhibitionist, a good physician, a hero, a little boy standing in his white communion suit and black secret, yellow goblins, a waitress, an angel, The King, a restless seeker and The Seer, a ruler, a thief, and ‘the doctors who refused my insurance.’

For the peckish, this issue offers, eggplant, garlic, and breadcrumbs (but these in different poems or we’d have a nice parm), bourbon, samosas, dillweed, bitter melon, ladyfingers, dayflower tea, coffee, baklava, dark chocolate, pig fat, hardtack dipped in hellfire stew, (‘gnaw it raw and praise the juice’), sheet iron crackers, cherries, more coffee (‘a little scotch in the coffee’), oats, more tea, soda bread, two hard biscuits, and ‘a shot of cold ρακίwhatever that is.’

These poems include cameo appearances by an esoteric and mostly French bunch, including Michel de Montaigne (the father of the modern essay), Blaise de Monluc (a sixteenth-century French militant and aristocrat), and Charles d’Orleans (a fifteenth-century French poet), Karlheinz Stockhausen (a contemporary German composer), and Charlie Brown (of the Hennepin County Browns).

And God. Eleven contain Judeo-Christian references. God is evoked in four of the poems, where He is found ‘swallow[ing],’ ‘posess[ing],’ ‘join[ing],’ and ‘doom[ing] wretched flesh,’ but He is ‘there when I call on Him’ but ‘does not write catchy tunes.’

Sixteen of the 33 poems contain narrative elements. The same number of poems address ‘you’ the reader. Eight poems speak in first-person plural.  Thirteen poems employ sentence fragments.  Eight of the poems have regular-sized stanzas. Eight might be called “nature poems.”

Five different poems mention rocks or stones and four poems refer to clouds. There is a ‘golden cloud,’ clouds in which ‘time no longer exists,’ there is at least one ‘antipodal cloud,‘ and other clouds ‘catch fire in the distance.’ Windows figure into four poems. The most commonly mentioned items are trees, breezes, stars, and parents. Of the 33 poems here, only ten don’t mention these.

Only one of the poems makes reference to the Internet landscape. (‘His online persona simply stunned her’ rhymes, surprisingly, with ‘What God hath joined let no man put asunder.’)

5 responses to “Poetry Magazine’s July/August Issue”

  1. Blimey. You set quite the standard for poise here, APL—’an esoteric and mostly French bunch’ indeed. It will be fascinating to see how each of us makes a signature of this kind of post.

  2. This looks like it took a lot of work! I wish I liked the poems better. Why do people write about food in poems – stupid.

  3. […] of getting into Poetry magazine. You might try doing it by the numbers. Sharkpack Review‘s Reductivist feature reduces the latest issue to said numbers. It makes fascinating reading. And apparently such […]

  4. Xander–LOVE this. I love this more than the issue! Very enjoyable, and very well done. You’re a regular naturalist of the poetic.

    btw @Kanepi: I have a similar distaste for domestic foods in poems, particularly pies, cookies, and sandwiches.

  5. A decent docent indeed! Handholding in the way that elf did to Tim Allen in Santa Clause or Nemo in Slumberland. There’s something of a pivot here. A study in statistics made poetry.

    The eyeroll gif. The egg parm. Damn you, Fairest Land. My leg muscles quail to make this leap, you bastard.

    Do continue.

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