Spring 2014, Volume 16

From the Guest Editor

After guest-editing this issue of Verdad, I realize how privileged my cozy, quiet, behind the scenes position as assistant editor has been. Although I’m probably not equal to the task, I feel honored to present a really fine gathering of work. I often hear editors and readers lament that poetry collections are too disparate, too thrown together as a sort of anthology of the poet’s best work, rather than an organic series that effectively functions as one long poem. I get it, and I’ve seen this kind of problem. That said, I more often see the opposite problem these days: the collection that is so focused on pursuing a theme that it sacrifices the punch and grit and surprise and craft of the individual poem. Well, all this is to say that I selected the work in this issue, some solicited and some through the transom, not to fit some grand theme but rather to highlight diamonds in the dark, works that spin off into their own brilliant galaxies.

Liz Robbins poems have that Ashberian sense of surprise as they weave their spells, as they envision memory as “a stood-up phone booth confessional.” Meanwhile, Jim Richards offers his philosophical riffing on Plato, and his villanelle echoing, “for you I care for words.” Ally Harris, in ‘Angles of Swarm’ has a loose, ranging quality that constantly morphs, as the speaker declares “I become the white stone in my pocket, smooth as the moon, a rare laughing cloud” and later in ‘IN TOUGHER BLUE,’ “before I contort for you, wet in this shower theory, I see me in mirror form.” Ralph Black’s work conveys the art and inventions of memory: “Some things I remember, some I invent. / Some I remember inventing, / some I invent so I can remember / remembering.” Similarly, Allan Peterson’s poem ‘How It Works’ tries to make sense of memory’s kaleidoscopic halls and tunnels, Peterson taking an approach that almost mimics a logic proof: “A book is saved memory. / A tree is memory saved as a book of leaves. / This is not news.” I’m also pleased to include a handful of Bruce Bond’s stunningly woven sonnets of names and the nameless, as well as Mercedes Lawry’s ‘What is said and what is not said and where that leaves us’ which asks, “What do you want / from a winter of extraordinary rains / and what do I want from thin arms / that cannot lift the dead dog?” Finally, this issue features four poems from Ellen Bass’ new book, Like a Beggar. In ‘Relax’ the speaker warns, “No matter how many vitamins you take, / how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys, / your hair, and your memory.” And in ‘The Morning After’ the speaker confesses, “I want to do it all / all over again—dive back into that brawl, / that raw and radiant free-for-all.” Along with the fine poetry, art, and fiction in this issue, previous contributor Donald Illich interviews Dana Roeser, whose newest book The Theme of Tonight’s Party Been Changed is the winner of the Juniper Prize and forthcoming from the University of Massachusetts Press. Roeser’s poem, ‘Be Where Your Hands Are,’ accompanies the interview. This issue would not be possible without such wonderful writers and artists submitting their passionate, voice-laden work, and it would not be possible without the ceaseless efforts of Editor Bonnie Bolling, Editor-at-Large Frank Gaspar, Art Editor Jack Miller, and web guru Rochelle Cocco; I thank you all.

                                                                                                 — William Neumire