Monday, August 10, 2020
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Review by Jack Foley:
REVIEW: CHRYSANTHEMUM 2020 LITERARY ANTHOLOGY
from the Chrysanthemum Literary Society
(Goldfish Press, 2020)
How many of you know what a geoduck is? Of those who know that it is "a very large edible clam," how many of you have seen a poem about one?
Laugh if you will,
I am lovely to some.
A giant among clams
Have I said I love sand,
a little thick mud?
A blanket of seaweed
keeps sea gulls away.
I live for the tide,
it brings me my life.
As the poem progresses we learn that the geoduck is blind but nevertheless, "I feel the vibrato of rain."
The poem is by Sigrun Susan Lane, and it is original, tender, compassionate, and utterly surprising. You can find it in a most interesting anthology, Chrysanthemum 2020 Literary Anthology from the Chrysanthemum Literary Society, published by Goldfish Press. The anthology's editor / publisher, Koon Woon says, "We are not trying to make a splash. We are only line into the ocean of verse. This is a labor of love and that means thankless labor in some cases." He goes on, "The range of the work in this anthology is not maximally inclusive. But we try to encourage those with talent to go onward and those with spirit not to give up." At a little over 200 pages, it is a warm companion for these days of social isolation and sheltering in place.
You will find passages like this from Thaddeus Rutkowski:
He was watching some television--
Christmas songs on a DVD--
and getting ready for bed,
when he dropped a glass.
It was a new glass, he wasn't attached to it.
But when it gave up its life,
he started to cry, not just for the glass,
but for everything else that was broken.
Or this from the indefatigable octogenarian, Iván Argüelles:
what ends in the photograph is time
light captured ravished by shadows
masks that in space freeze their features
no sound alerts the chorus of winds
no green sprouts intrude their lusty growth
a footfall is all the song one can surmise
Or this by Pamela Carter:
let wind offer her speed to someone else
when sad we prefer to cry
unlike those throned
we will suck icicles
despite their dirtiness and cold
and tromp in our big boots
to flop into snowdrift-soft meadows
others can claim our thunder
others can churn our rivers
we wish instead to make happy the child
each of us knew
the each of us was
we will be angels of the flake-crystal world
some of us will not be king
There is much here, and much diversity despite the editor's disclaimer. It's a book to keep by your bedside to enliven your mind before sleep and to feed it thoughts when you wake. I am pleased to say that my poem/libretto, "Noir" was one of the things chosen for this book, but that isn't why I'm praising it. There are perhaps three or four poets here whose names I know. Apart from that, they are, to me, all new, all interesting voices.
But I want to close this review with still another offering from Ms. Lane, who, says her biographical note, "has been fascinated by sea creatures since she was a child." What a delight to find words like "calcareous" and "operculum" in a poem!
In a six-walled shell, white
and calcareous as a hollow tooth,
I am cemented
to the rock on my back.
As the tide changes,
the operculum doors
slide open, I send my six pairs
of dark feathers to beat
like flames against the waters
to draw the ocean in
where I wait,
like a black robed monk in his cell.