Editors’ Notes (Posit 23)

 

Hello, and welcome to Issue 23 of Posit!

Like most literature, the work collected here engages the poetic ramifications of relation: of “us” to “them” (Ryan Clark); of the artist to the art form (Ryan Mihaly); of one species to another (Jeffrey Hecker); and of the self to its own becoming (Paula Cisewski). Some approach romantic relation, at its beginning (Fortunato Salazar) and its end (Cassandra Moss, Katherine Fallon). Others focus on the relation of mother and child, at the beginning of that journey (Stephanie Anderson, Gail Di Maggio) and its end (Maureen Owen). And then there’s the relation, via gender, of the self to the self — and to the cosmos itself (Maureen Seaton and Denise Duhamel).

However, perhaps what unifies this poetry and prose most fundamentally is courage. Although these works emerge from a range of voices representing a breadth of aesthetic visions, all grapple with their demons and dance with their angels whole-heartedly. More than anything else, this writing is all in.

Now more than ever, we hope the integrity and commitment of this writing gives you the encouragement and inspiration we have so gratefully taken from them.

In her poems of Love and Rage and Love, Stephanie Anderson evokes the challenge to identity of new motherhood in all of its specificity as well as universality. These verses “go grasping / with language” even as the narrator’s “plush / body unravels.” Not to be silenced, the poet manages to nonetheless craft these powerful meditations on the challenge of motherhood, especially when piled onto the already full plate of a poet, job-seeking academic, expat, and life partner. The reader is reminded of the courage it takes to grapple not only with Baths and Summer and Irritation and Grief (not to mention with Love and Rage and Love), but with the “fluid facts” and “willful walls” of reality itself, until “what gets // unraveled / isn’t form, / it’s a form / of supplication.”

Paula Cisewscki’s brilliant observations on writing and its intimate life connections are also the confessions of “an inside person who frequents the insides of schools and museums, a little pet-like it now seems to me.” As children do, in the game of “becoming,” the narrator “shifted my bones around, sprouting feathers or hooves, whiskers or tusks.” She asks, “Are there people who don’t need to know how it feels to be every living thing?” Now, in a different becoming, “the loon I could see is gone. No loons and no hoot and no wail and no yodel and no tremolo. They found each other, I’m going to assume the silence means.” Remembering her (and our) own earlier silences, “What’s a term for the perfect thing you should have said to yourself?” But then, “Once I read a fairy story by this young girl who opened with the phrase, Once a pond of time.” Thankfully, “that girl’s perfectly mistaken phrase exists, and so, inside it I am reborn with joy.”

Like swords into ploughshares, Ryan Clark’s unique form of homophonic translation transforms an Arizona anti-immigration bill into a thing of beauty. His lyrical lines are interlineated with their source text to reveal just how they operate to rewrite and rebut the xenophobia and fear such bills codify. As antidotes to “our reality” in which “fear here is / a signature” and “our / view is fences . . . stately terror fences,” Clark’s lines have the grace and fluidity of “a river” in which “we flow where / carried,” like a “word signed as a wand,” “a sun on a / flag a story of living,” or a “note soaring for the need to soar.”

Many of Katherine Fallon’s sensuous and surprising works are love poems with fangs. In a possibly fading relationship, “we’ve still got some light left and a place to go to, go around, to harness. Think fainting goat, unshod.” And in a sinister desire for preservation: “Breastbone most visible, most wanted and so most likely to split open onto white meat, and really, the handsomest of purple hearts. I’d salt it to keep it safe, I would.” Here too, is “Hand on the gear shift, soft-centered truffle, oyster-splayed like a crime scene.” But in a turn from the “crime” we are offered this tender admission: “Always, a woman’s spirited breath the hot air of an oven, yeast risen against me.”

In Jeffrey Hecker’s dark and witty Ark Aft series, animals we may not have registered in the original biblical text speak, post on social media, and generally act in oddly recognizable ways. Retaining the charm and “moral” point of view of fables, these humorous and delightful animals also propound scholarly sentiments: “Boar notices Noah’s wife’s name varies depending on source text” (Boar & Cow), and personal concerns: “Ferret posts I feel everything I ever fancy or require within reach. Ferret’s alcoholism perturbs me, posts Hamster. I clench apexes, zeniths, vertexes, apogees, pinnacles, Ferret reposts” (Ferret & Hamster). And in Tiger & Lion, Tiger asks Lion questions not out of place for our time: “What type fire should we be, if we die wise? What type water should we be if we die dim?”

Gail di Maggio’s poems lead us into the worlds of dream and memory as the forges of identity. These verses paint deft and subtle portraits of a loving, restless mother who is full of life and unfulfilled desire, “begging the wind to to ripple her, / to make her . . . / over.” They are told from the point of view of an attached and dependent “girl-child” who is as inspired (“un-posed, / irresistible”) as she is frightened by her mother’s appetites, even as she must hide her own — notwithstanding the last of the “yellow blossoms like dragon faces . . . / still in [her] mouth.”

Ryan Mihaly uses text + visuals in these inspired three-part inventions based on clarinet fingering charts to enquire into the transcendent element of music “which unlike the saints . . . leaves no relics behind.” In these pieces, Mihaly transcribes the effects of music, its ekphrastic and emotional impacts upon us, like “rain suddenly stopping, daylight looking like someone who has just finished crying, identity torn away, face replaced by the look of revelation.” At the same time, he is mindful of the uses to which music has been put, “world eye closing or opening depending on what flags unfurl at the command to play.” Ultimately, though, and thankfully, “It costs nothing to play. The body is governed in the same way: the veins do not charge the heart for blood.”

The prose of Cassandra Moss combines the dispassionate analysis of scholarship and formal logic with the narrative immediacy of memoir to penetrate the volatile ambiguities of intimate relation. In these poems, as in life, “the weight of expectation swings wildly . . . from total ontological confirmation to complete withdrawal of mutuality.” Reading of the questing aftermath of a divorce, the reader is reminded, with the narrator, “not to think in terms of old and new” — especially when “the conclusions [she] hoped would be ready-made aren’t reachable.”

Maureen Owens’s spare and tender poems visit the universal ordeal of parental aging – of having once been tended, and now tending. As a child dyeing her mother’s hair, she “could see the black strands flow apart and the white of her scalp emerge in tiny winding rivers,” a child experiencing the parent as her entire landscape. The mother in memory who could “go full gallop up the cow pasture til the very end fencing,” is now the particulars of a declining person. In Owens’s characteristic titles, which work in counterpoint with the poems they open: “she could put on her left ear hearing aid / but not     her right       & sometimes / she could not put on her left either.” And in the poem “that same train / ironically / later that same day     robbed / by     different robbers,” “layers of pillows that won’t behave” belie the truth: “some nights we die several times a night.”

V.S. Ramstack’s elliptical and unpredictable images hum with an immediacy as powerful as they are challenging. Like a “silly scissor mouth,” they capture the reader’s attention and pique our interest with an intensity that is as impossible to pin down as a “soft wheel and brunt.” Treating us to one vividly startling image after another, such as the smell of hair on fire, “a death with / honeyed scythe,” these bold and beautiful poems remind us that we all “have a leash to neglect and this may be / the very time to do it.”

Fortunato Salazar, in these deeply perceptive anacreontic(s) scrawled in dior addict fuchsia pink on fair skin in alice, tx, touches on the oppositional juxtapositions of our outer and inner lives. Salazar queries the language and substance of argument: “I debate circumcised guy, he wrings out verse,” but the debate is really internal: “What am I in this proof”? “I’m mute and I barter at the door.” In this internality, “I’m untouchable like a distant diamond sky, I’m not insubordinate in the service of the enemies of bigotry and narrowness.” There’s maybe a good intent when “We restrain ourselves from each encroaching on the other” but “it’s like poison to me not to triumph in debate or even to leave the wrangling incomplete.” Too, the nature of god is queried: what if “God popped into your Master and spun birth certificate and $100 U.S. currency and water?” “God manned a tower for just such flutter.”

And, in a brand-new installment from poetry icons and long-time collaborators Maureen Seaton and Denise Duhamel, we are proud to feature two of their exuberant and life-affirming 12 Lines about Gender. These joyous romps into the expansive and expanding universe of gender unbound open their inclusive arms to embrace the genderfluidity of clouds, UFOs, manatees (like “androgynous / goddess[es] of rising sea and sinking city”), and mangroves (“their agenda agender”). Also celebrated are the “Two-Spirit / brackishness” of the Everglades; that “agender ex-planet, Pluto” and their genderqueer moons; and of course, the gloriously uncontainable cosmos itself.

Thank you so much for honoring these wonderful writers with your time and attention!

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann

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Welcome to the visual art of Posit 23!

The insanely intricate and detailed universe depicted by Alexis Duque could only come from his rich and multidimensional imagination. Using both conventional and original tricks of perspective and technical drawing, he creates drawings that pulse with an almost psychedelic energy. His work is tightly organized and precise, but because of its imagistic density sometimes borders on a delicious hysteria. The eye wanders through his drawings searching for a beginning, middle and end. They are always there; the logic that lies beneath these mad worlds is always impeccable.

The birds in Teresa James’s drawn and collaged constructions often sprout winged hands — an apt metaphor for the artist herself, whose work over the years continues to remind us of the power of her hands. Whether working as a master printmaker/collaborator in her print shop in Chicago, or through her poetic and lyrical personal work, James always displays a mastery of her field. The birds in this body of work sing out to us with songs of love and melancholy.

Cheryl Molnar’s work is a virtuosic combination of concept and technique. Her intricately constructed collage pieces on wood are a marvel of paper and paint engineering. Working with both found and fabricated images, Molnar’s work depicts landscapes, both real and imagined. Her locales are vaguely familiar – encouraging us to will them to evoke a memory of “place.” Her work is imbued with an ineffable spirit of nostalgia, all the while delighting the eye with their intricate plays on time and space.

Matthew Schommer’s extraordinary drawings sometimes feel like film stills. They often capture an image in the split second in which they occur. Time stops and the drawn is lit, as if by a flash illuminating a fleeting moment. The skill with which Schommer seizes an image, using only pencil and his keen eye, is remarkable. They are often slightly blurry, as if pulled from memory, or retrieved from an archive of vintage film.

And Viviane Rombaldi Seppey’s work is conceptually complex and fascinating. Her work with vintage and contemporary maps ponders the notions of being lost and finding one’s way through the world. Seppy describes the work as autobiographical insofar as they reflect her own global wanderings — a life spent living in many countries, and the complexities of language and culture that she has experienced. The objects she makes beg to be touched and searched for keys to their meaning. As mysterious as they are immediate, their beauty is made richer by the depth of their layers of meaning.

Enjoy!
Melissa Stern

Editors’ Notes (Posit 22)

Describing the state of the world when the I Ching was written, Z.L. Zhou writes of a time “so distant from ours that some of its aspects are approachable only through inexact science, science that verges on divination itself.” Hopefully, we can all be forgiven for noting the relevance of this formulation to our own mystifying times — with its “scrappy few / . . . scraped-up many;” its “imagined nation in ruination” (Kristen Hanlon, This Week Can Go To Hell) — so “difficult to see       explain / impossible to nail down” (Benjamin Landry, It Walked Through the Clearing). Varied and diverse as the work in this issue may be, all of it “grapple[s] / toward / [a] present / understanding” of our world (Landry, Shaft of Light), and the past that brought us to this point, although “the boundary of / necessity is porous” (Heikki Huotari, The Feedback Loop).

We’re proud to include a potent selection of works strongly inflected by voice (see, e.g., Behm-Steinberg, Hanlon, Lawry, Seidenberg, and Wright) and undaunted by silence (Huotari, Landry, Zhou); laced with aphoristic gems and unforgettable lines (Behm-Steinberg, Hanlon, Huotari, Lawry, Lurssen, Price, Yakovlev, Wright). Here are dissimilar but equally accomplished takes on the sonnet (Lawry, Wright) as well as intriguing excerpts from book-length works (Behm-Steinberg, Seidenberg, Zhou, and Lurssen). These poems grapple with demons (Behm-Steinberg, Huotari, Yakovlev); the fate of our planet (Hanlon, Lawry); mortality (Landry, Wright); the past (Landry, Price, Zhou); and the present — not only its dark side, but “our rich, noble trying, our Now” (Adrian Lurssen, Alabama).

In short, here is nothing less than required reading, sweetened by copious amounts of wit, craft, humor, and beauty. Whether delivering good news or bad, these works will surely salve your spirits, as they have ours.

The incantatory ten-line sections excerpted here from Hugh Behm-Steinberg’s an end is the towards to whet our appetites, deliciously, for the rest of this longer work. Laced with allusions to popular culture and music, and song-like in their resonant repetitions, these verses, like the “next door devil” of which they sing, “put a spell on you, put a spell on you.” “Counting every never come again,” Behm-Steinberg turns phrases inside out and back again, interweaving mystery and colloquialism by way of a unique and persuasive alchemy which has “figured out // how to divide your life into little slots one bird long.”

Landing zinger after jaw-dropping zinger, Kristen Hanlon wows us with her linguistic agility and razor wit, even while compelling us to confront the gravest of questions: “What if the last chance to set things right / came and went without our noticing?” In this “backwater of nuts-and-dolts,” as she forces us to admit, our “heart’s a bag of frozen peas / closing in on irrelevance & irretrievability.” Hanlon’s vision of the status quo may not be encouraging, but it is persuasive: “If something’s gone rotten, cut it out.”

In Heikki Huotari’s small gems of meditation on the scientific and spiritual essence of nature, the deity is tweaked for indifference to the effects of its actions: Although “God stopped the lilies spinning with consideration, not pheromones,” that “consideration” included “thumbs on scales (that) precluded cataclysms and three other kinds of kindness.” “Bite me,” these poems say to the deity. “You might have spent the morning watching hummingbirds extracting nectar but you didn’t. In your stead, I did.” For Huotari, “the boundary of nature is porous.” “When in a sea of leaves and needles,” this poet “need only brandish an imagination.”

“Space it turns out is a brightness” in Benjamin Landry‘s poems, illuminating our experience of nature and contrasting it with our compulsion for measurement: “how to square a thing that cascades.” This urge, Landry shows us, may be “why we loved the topo maps/girded in concentrics /a ridge we know to its limit” — a limit that edges into the ineffable. We may think we believe that things we measure and make have to be “level true / and watertight,” but “a dowser / with a wishbone stick” (so unlike an engineer with her maps) can also find a source — while sometimes “winged things peer… down nervous and hungry.”

Mercedes Lawry’s sonnets are grim and gorgeous in equal parts, slaying us with the beauty of their music and the urgency of their alarm about the precarious fate of our planet. These are exemplary sonnets — contemplative, compressed, capped with stunning and stunningly prepared voltas. In language at once direct and artful, the imminence of winter becomes more broadly ominous, bringing with it: “the voice / of sabotage, the skin of denial . . . the mess of symmetry wriggling / in the gloved sky’s hiss.” By not privileging a human perspective, these poems bring home all the more viscerally “the ways the human / can evaporate.”

Adrian Lurssen’s Landscape No Longer In a Mother Tongue leads with an epigraph by Paul Celan, whose power and compression, intensity and transcendence resonate through the unique timbre of these finely crafted poems — along with the voice of the narrator’s mother, who “could will her // self into his dreams,” as well as that of his mother culture. These poems consider heritage as gift and shackle — or perhaps, as shackle and key to one’s escape, or at least appreciation: “Meaning formed // in the darker shades / of an uncovered continent.” That “there is no explaining / It is all part of the explanation” does not vitiate the hope saturating this poet’s vision of this “brief American moment, an attempt at affirmation . . . a flood of trying, a flight toward the innocent . . . a future engineered to be unerring.”

From the vantage point of a stark future/present, Bryan Price details how we will inscribe our species history on the Tree of Life: “Everything turned itself out broken: windows, curses, cures, cymbals, the edge of your cheekbone — a dumping ground for unspeakable horrors.” Caught in our present global catastrophes, “we can flee no further nor stay in this place ahold of the wolf this way.” However, in images that bring to mind a pre-Raphaelite painting of the mythic, we are granted a small but sparkling hope: “only ether remains as green as Night rising naked from Chaos.”

In this excerpt from Steven Seidenberg’s plain sight, the narrator’s wry humor and aphoristic morbidity are voiced in a direct address which could not be more indirect in terms of information divulged. Who is declaring that “A destiny destroyed is a destiny fulfilled?” Whose “mood clots quickly?” Who has “the patience to give voice to an illimitable silence?” Readers of Seidenberg’s book, Situ, might recognize the archaic diction and Beckettian stasis emitted by this persona, as well as the way these pieces bring us face to face with our own elemental quandary, the tension between the impulse to act and the reluctance to do so — between repulsion and attraction, the desire to know ‘what happens’ and the certainty that it will, as always, be ‘nothing’ — that we can’t read on, but we must read on.

The exuberant ease of Jeffrey Cyphers Wright’s playful, tragic sonnets belie their extraordinary craft and control. These meditation on our fate as the butt of “Laughing Matter’s” joke are no laughing matter. Wright’s virtuosic turns remind us that no matter how humorous the spectacle of our lives might be, “the gladiators are not all glad.” These missives from “the pang fortress” are sent by this profound trickster to demonstrate, if not explain, “how to draw a word out of a sword” and delight us with their inimitable display.

Anton Yakovlev’s confident voice and capacious imagination mine the fertile ground of reality’s bitter ironies to reveal ourselves to our selves. The mirror held up to our gaze by these poems is not a flattering one. But at fleeting moments we might be forgiven for believing to have spied some bit that sparkles. In a world in which “contrails cross each other / like denial” and “thieves swarm every intersection,” at most we might hope that “low-hanging fruit falls through [our] moon roof.” But when the poet considers “the architecture of love: steeples of inattention, pits of catharsis, coffins of hurry” a universal “fear touches [us] like a bouncing night.”

In Z.I. Zhou’s innovative and beautifully reinterpreted hexagrams, the ancient past is reanimated by the present, as lyrical prescriptions from the I Ching are conjoined with contemporary life and language, opening new vistas of insight and understanding. Images from “the ends of the world, the traditional fields, the\\pillars chaotic with birds. Here, mist; there, din, missed and\\empty” resound with and against the vividness of now, when “on yet another first date, when my foot brushes his, I am forced to wonder if I should withdraw the advantage.”

“Why not wear your rubber Donald Trump mask to a crowded theatre and flail your octopi limbs at the screen?” asks the narrator in one of Joanna Fuhrman’s new video poems. These sharp and funny pieces blend satire with fey lyricism, confronting the viewer with questions designed to bring home the urgency and absurdity of the current political climate and the existential crises of our age. “Did you mean to wake up with your nerves dangling like sneakers from suburban trees?” “Have you ever shaken hands with the bodhisattva of bitterness?” Fuhrman also captures the outsized influence of popular culture, where the reckless movie hero “is naked all the time” so that “even when he’s clothed, his dick swings unsheathed.” “The 21st century,” as Fuhrman captures it, with her light but devastating touch, “is riding a bloodshot Ferrari into the mouth of climate change, and it needs pure vodka to make it ok.”

Happy reading and viewing!
Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann

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Jaynie Crimmins is a magician. Her work transforms the ordinary paper detritus from modern life — catalogues, glossy mailers, and paper – and repurposes them into gloriously beautiful art objects. On first glance, her pieces appear to be graceful organic forms, based on the patterning and structure of the natural world. Second glace reveals that these complex pieces comprise a paper trail of capitalism. One can sometimes make out the ad copy, but generally the words and images melt into pattern and color. They are both clever and smart. Her craftsmanship — tearing, rolling, folding and sewing paper into 3 dimensional objects — is superb.

Scott Kahn paints lush landscapes full of color and pattern that, to me, often hearken to the rich tradition of Indian miniatures. He documents his life and the places he’s been with a delicate touch and a deep and vibrant palette. There is a rigorous discipline to Kahn’s paintings. He works within a traditional flat structure sometimes associated with American folk art. His subjects, whether they are landscapes or portraits, are full frontal — often with a somewhat flattened perspective. Their rich surfaces convey a sense of calm introspection.

Alison Lowry processes not only a profound technical and visual talent, but also a fierce commitment to social justice. Her cast and fabricated glass pieces commemorate some of the terrible crimes committed against women and children by the Irish State and the Catholic Church. Even while we are wincing from the unblinking portrayal of betrayal and abuse, we can’t help bu marvel at the sparkling beauty of her work. Her use of humble domestic forms- an apron, a christening gown, scissors — underscores the banality of evil. Her glass pieces are often exhibited in tandem with audio and text interviews with survivors who continue to bear witness to the past. Her work is urgent, powerful and transcendent.

The fun and funny paintings of Fran Shalom are full of both a “pop” sensibility and a deep commitment to the portrayal of form and color. Her brilliantly hued paintings are fundamentally abstract, but often make sly reference to figurative form. Elegantly constructed and quite precise, they seem to marry a kind of mid-century modern aesthetic with a philosophical investigation into the lyrical relationship between figure and ground. Shapes are pared down to their essence, yet the work is never austere. The juxtaposition of bright color balanced by neutral tones keeps this work alive and lively.

The visual and performative message of W.A. Erhen Tool’s cup project is deeply moving. Tool, a veteran of Gulf War I, has taken the humble craft of cup making and elevated it to something extraordinary. Tool makes usable ceramic cups that commemorate veterans and the horror of war. Using ceramic decals of real photographs, military imagery, and the beauty of glaze, he has fabricated and given away over 21,000 cups to the public. The cups themselves convey a dry sense of dark humor and a razor sharp vision of the destruction of war. At the same time they are simply beautiful.

Enjoy!
Melissa Stern

Editors’ Notes (Posit 21)

 

Happy Spring, and welcome to Posit 21!

It is with equal parts pride and delight that we offer the freshness and breadth of poetry, prose, and visual art in this issue: its capacity to match aesthetic delight with insight, emotion, and critique. Book-ended by poignant treatments of mother and home by Emily Blair and Karolina Zapal, the writings featured here are distinguished either by the bold frankness of their voice, the restraint of their meditative lyricism, or the exuberance of their experimentation and play. And the visual art collected here has a comparable depth and breadth, from painting to assemblage, collage to textile.

All of this, of course, against the ever-more disconcerting backdrop of our real-world “collective failing, a planet / boiling” about which “how frighteningly / beautiful those words / about the slouching and /the beast, another matter / when it is at the door” (Gary Sokolow, The Darkness, The Knocking).

Yet even now, when what the narrator of Blair’s A Boy Named Rooster Tries to Kiss Me calls “the craziest thing she ever heard” makes more sense than what we’re asked to accept on a daily basis by the most powerful man in the world, these works remind us how “the moment / is still music” (Mark Truscott, Rain) and help us appreciate “windfall as artifact of storm.” (F. Daniel Rzicznek, from Leafmold).

Which is why you won’t want to miss these wise and beautiful windfalls of our stormy times.

Azadeh Ardalan’s painted-from-memory portraits utilize eye-poppingly vivid, non-naturalistic colors and broad, gestural, brushstrokes to peer beneath the surface of how we live now. The heightened colors and lush textures with which she depicts contemporary characters seated in simplified interiors is more than reminiscent of the Fauves (and especially Henri Matisse): it brings their revolutionary prioritization of form and color effortlessly forward into the 21st century. The velvety saturation of Ardalan’s palette infuses these paintings’ static compositions with an intense energy, so that their depiction of the isolation of contemporary life delights the eye, refreshing the viewer’s appreciation for the beauty of the everyday.

Emily Blair writes in a powerful voice rich with mastered emotion and an indelible connection to a home left as far behind as it is ever-present. These lyrical poems evoke a “back-home” to which, to paraphrase Thomas Wolfe, the narrator can never truly return: a back-home of laundromats and Ms. Pac-Man and eighteen-wheelers and a boy named Rooster “with a lip full of mint Skoal and his thumbs in his belt loops,” as well as seraphs that are “beasts of fire” and a “toothy” mother “everything about [whom] turns inside out, a body of prolapse, liters of bile, and blaming [her] for the trouble.”

In Thomas Cook’s prose poems we are treated to language at serious play, a gestural yet sly resort to the atomized energy and unpredictable harmony of words and phrases in a world where “origin stories are difficult,” the “best has less to do with extraction than survival, especially in the case of cortexes.” In the world of these poems, lying to yourself is a shortcut the poet must eschew, even if, or perhaps especially because, it would create “a poem for the millennium in which you were found.”

In Janis Butler Holm’s sound poems from Rabelaisian Play Station, we’re treated to another vision of language cavorting on the fertile ground “between sense and nonsense.” In keeping with their Dadaist heritage, these humorous mash-ups ring deliciously with the surprising sting of critique. Dripping with satire, and propelled by a driving trochaic beat, these collages focused on fabrication and falsification lampoon the absurdity of an all-too-recognizable political status quo, one in which “peevishly adulterated, crackerjacks rigidify,” “percolating anthrax hoaxes falsify their logic genes,” and “double-dealing slumber parties oxidize fake news.”

Susan Leary studies the emotional complications, more and less beautiful, in the unknowable spaces between body and soul, as well as bodies and souls; “the world consumed by the vast invisibility of its histories.” In the first poem, that “the babies have a designated space in the cemetery” underscores that “only death would disguise in such beautifully-cut grass a field of complex abductions.” In another, the narrator wonders “how a fish becomes a body, & through this how a body becomes a boy that survives. Knowing only to flail and calm.” Yet another poem asks, “if science is the body’s ability to know something the world cannot, what then of the world?” And, further: “how should it come to recognize itself if all but gloaming & accidental recklessness?”

Returning to Posit with more virtuosic thought experiments, Peter Leight offers a number of understated meditations which cast “the kind of sensitive light that only shines when there’s something to see” — even, or perhaps especially, when it is “the business of shadows.” This poet’s probing work has the courage to “see how far away you are / from what you’re close to,” and the wisdom to know that it “takes all our strength just to give in to the weakness.”

Fabricated out of numerous pieces of wood “puzzled” together into abstract and architectural forms, Helen O’Leary’s sculptures are miraculous in their meticulous fabrication and transcendental beauty. They travel simultaneously between the worlds of painting and sculpture. The surfaces move literally and figuratively, their unlikely undulations carrying the eye across their painted surfaces, around to their backs, through their openings and back. These visual journeys are a surprise and delight. O’Leary is a master of abstract narrative. Each of these constructions has a story to tell. They hint of history, memory and experience. O’Leary presents the clues so that we can finish each narrative in our personal way.

F. Daniel Rzicznek returns to Posit as well, with more lush and meditative prose pieces from Leafmold. In these poems, living in the wild reveals that when there is “trouble with the bugs, trouble with thirst, trouble with desire,” “gratitude must be endless if you want to survive.” In a vivid tableau of “two towels, rust-orange and aquamarine, flap[ping] on the clothesline” the narrator sees “capes worn by invisible spirits, maybe your guardians, your watchers.” Considering what he has “left . . . on the mainland,” he concludes it is “that certain noise,” the “noise of certainty.” In the wild, by contrast, “the season puts white on the pines but inside them: always green, always green.”

Gary Sokolow’s poems find solace in the memory of a time when “it was cheaper to be going nowhere” and “nothing mattered but to stand by the last great jukebox” even if “maybe I was simply crazy believing I was stopping time, nursing a beer.” Yet, despite the fact that life is “a bracelet tight around (our) ankles” and “the shadows stay like the outline of the names of the builders on the ovens of Auschwitz,” these poems manage to balance despair with hope: that “a want there is to make it kinder” despite “the thirteen billion light years that would take.”

In Eternal Relations, hiromi suzuki collages black and white images with words from a variety of languages to consider our “eternal relations” with nature, animals, and human society. Her use of the Japanese interpretation of Chinese kanji evokes the “eternal relation” of letters and visual images – the essence of the ideogram. In River and Forest, a parallel is drawn between the branching structures of tributaries and tree limbs, and the visual connotations of their kanji. Town, on the other hand, highlights the witty juxtaposition of its component characters, which translate, in English, as “orange chocolate almond.” Yet again, in Bird, the lack of easily discernable hints keeps us guessing – beyond the charming image of the kanji itself, perched like a bird on the back of a calf.

The astoundingly detailed collage work of Maritta Tapanainen delights and toys with the viewer. They are so precisely assembled that it is, at first glance, difficult to be sure if they are constructed rather than drawn. These transcendent collages are assembled out of hundreds of pieces of found paper. Working within the palate of black and white, she draws out scores of subtle and rich tones. The soft patina of vintage papers and multiple shades of black ink reveal the rich variety of colors that that we tend to think of as “monochromatic.” Her pieces draw from natural history, science and music, creating a world that is lyrical and lively. Her ability to weave together these disparate elements is no less than masterful.

In these lovely and profound poems, Adam Tedesco offers a persona who “stayed who I was as if I had an option” even with a “feeding tube filled with … dreams, sadness & Swiss omelets, this Rickroll of numb gums and dumb love.” These fine poems do not cease probing, even though “anything you try to understand owns you. The light you bend towards owns you. Your lover’s point of view owns you.” Even when “to weep is to ask what is in us,” this poet is not afraid to forge ahead until “cleared smoke & human patience reveal” poetry’s essence, the intersection of the mundane and the magical: “commonness, a plate & glass, the tablecloth pulled.”

With these poems from Her Scant State, Barbara Tomash returns to Posit with a sample of her own novel approach to erasure, constructing two-part poems extracted from the first and second halves of Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady. In the complexity of this conversion from novel to poetry and conversation between novelist and poet (as well as between the novel and itself), Tomash reweaves James’ inimitable and exquisite prose through the loom of her own prosody, giving rise to a lively juxtaposition of paired and pared-down questions and images. What Tomash questions here is no less than James’ imagination of feminity: that “queer country across the sea” which he recognized as “caught in a vast cage” – a vision lovingly reimagined by Tomash, “in her lucidity” via “ambiguities composed all of the same flower.”

The quiet gravitas of Mark Truscott’s conceptual meditations contemplate the materials of existence: the tension between seems and is, the transience of matter, light, water, and breath in their progress towards to drift and diffusion. These poems ask “what can it mean / that what is / has arisen already? / And then it will change.” Truscott manages this heavy lifting with a light and graceful touch, “placing / word after word / before coating their / succession in / colours of interior / sound.” The placid surface of his prosody is “like / a surface of water, / vulnerable to ripples, / real, now / momentarily /expressing its /potential for stillness” even as its “slow-beat ringing / continues,” with understated elegance, in the reader’s ear.

Altered States is an apt name for this body of work by Kit Warren. Painted in a variety of media, and made over a long period of time, they have an intoxicating quality. Warren uses a rich and elegant palette that draws us deeply into the work. Rhythmically moving across the page, her shimmering marks invite you into their world. They present a meditative, calm universe in which we can relax and enjoy the luxury of this work.

Marie Watt makes contemporary sculptures out of memory and tradition, tweaked with a distinctly contemporary sensibility. She often uses materials common to all of us, if full of potent meaning personal to the artist. Using many traditional fabrication techniques, she presents a fully developed body of artwork that is deeply moving. Fusing storytelling, politics, and a graceful aesthetic, she presents narratives that cross time and place to touch us all. Her desire to create community and engage with women “makers” adds unique social resonance and depth to her lovely work.

And, finally, in language as frank as it is vivid, in which “a gut feeling is just a gut job,” Karolina Zapal evokes a piercing yearning for mother and home inflected by “a sprig of jealousy a pinch of gratitude a handful of reserve.” The wisdom of this poet’s treatment of those emotional touchstones lies in her recognition of their limitations, that “what she has is not / enough and what she can have is no more.” With poignant lyricism we learn that “when Baby returns home home breaks / into a whisper” even while “a cheek of moonlight / on the road breaks off / in my eye.”

Thank you, as ever, for reading and viewing.

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, Bernd Sauermann, and Melissa Stern

Editors’ Notes (Posit 20)

 
Welcome to the 20th issue of Posit! We’re truly delighted (if a bit amazed) to find ourselves here. And we’re deeply grateful to all of you (worldwide!) who read and view this site — and, especially, to our ever-growing family of contributors, for entrusting their remarkable work to us.

And speaking of remarkable work, the poetry and prose gathered here is, as always, as various as it is impossible to categorize. Nonetheless, as befits the somber chill of mid-winter, much, if not most, of this work grapples with the most ancient of literary preoccupations: mortality. Which is to say, “this absenting / presence, this existence” (Michael Tod Edgerton, Land’s End) — its tragedy, its absurdity, its beauty, and its generative relationship with life and art. The range of approaches in evidence underscores the inexhaustible depth of this subject, as a look at the work of Edgerton, Tyler Flynn Dorholt, Robert Hamilton, Margaret Hanshaw, Simone Muench & Jackie K. White, Rick Snyder, and Anne Riesenberg confirms.

Given this subject matter, it’s not surprising that an elegiac tone weaves through this issue — made emphatic by moments of actual elegy, for Philip Seymour Hoffman (Dorholt), Anthony Bourdain (in the visual art of Miriam Hitchcock), Catullus’ famous sparrow (Snyder) — even Damien Hirst’s decaying shark (Edgerton).

Yet in many of these works, the link between loss and creation gives rise to an understated but persistent optimism — a “calm exhilaration” (Edgerton) which leads us to “savor . . . the Value of imperfect choices” and appreciate the “grace of saying Yes.” (Riesenberg). This is true even — or perhaps, especially — in certain works notable for their silence. Miraculously, it is sometimes in the spaces between what is said (as well as the spare beauty of their language), that the most potent generative potential is located. We’re thinking here, especially, of the poems of Julie Phillips Brown and Alexandra Mattraw, but also, cousin to those ellipses, the ones made visual and tactile by Sonja Johanson’s botanical erasures, the lacunae of which give rise to new structures, even as they mark the destruction they highlight. Plus, cousin to both, Kelly Nelson’s novel translations, which combine departure and tribute to give rise to the shockingly, refreshingly new.

This is not to say that all here is gentle or calm, as a glance at the poems of Robert Hamilton, Muench & White, or Rick Snyder will confirm. Nor that only loss is generative, as Kathleen Hellen’s high octane recombination of language, “sprouting wordsinsideofworlds,” reveals.

But all of the work here offers something new, in the best sense of that over- and abused word. And we are the better for receiving it.

In this excerpt from The Adjacent Possible, Julie Phillips Brown’s “one” evokes the music of solitude. Although the “one” of the poem is so “unaccountable . . . countless, fathomless, and alone” that “words form as burrs and pits,” the haunting beauty of Brown’s own prosody “flowers among the watery veils” to proffer a “cloudself” so transcendent it “wakes as air.“

Tyler Flynn Dorholt’s elegiac litanies of urban living “put on a charge of hope” even as they “gestur[e] toward demise” in their deftly inclusive contemplation of the entanglement of self and other, survival and suffering. Focusing on Jane Street in New York City to “talk. . . about life,” Stoop connects the death of an anonymous pedestrian with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose while “widening / the blood to rise above character,” as well as a singer downing a burger “where Dylan sang / about Emmett Till,” insuring that “when [we] look / at what [we’ve] seen / the scene is [not] . . . overlooked.”

Like Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn, Michael Tod Edgerton’s It Closing In It Whispers considers the inextricable bond between death and beauty, provoked, here, not by an urn, but by the “tender,” “erotic,” and “brutal” portraits of Francis Bacon, as well as Damien Hirst’s famous shark “scraping against the glazed skin of the seen” in The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. Both poems featured here embody what they respond to: art’s capacity “to call out to call into / being,” compelling us to marvel at how “surprisingly / beautiful [it is] . . . / to be stricken to be / taken,” despite the disturbingly fleeting nature of “anything kin, / in the 21st century, / to transcendance.”

In Senso Unico, Predator & Prey, and Labor Theory of Value, Robert Hamilton sings in a number of forms and tones unified by a voice as erudite as it is forceful in its exploration of the tragic irony of the human condition. These poems expose a species prone to grandiosity, even as it — as we — are trapped by the ‘unique meaning’ of the one-way, no-exit (“senso unico”) trajectory that characterizes a mortality in which “the Ding an Sich cannot be had” and we are not “roaming the wild but caught in a little snow globe with our own figurines hunting a brown little smudge of a beast.”

The stark beauty of Margaret Hanshaw’s imagery confronts us with an existential solitude from which “there are no distinct patterns. / No lessons to be drawn.” What’s more, this “thrashing dystopia” is universal rather than personal, since “strangers occupy the same deep space.” Nonetheless, these poems remind us, there is comfort in the real: “slow light. / A purple ease,” one’s hands like “little balconies” in “the autumn sun.” But most importantly, there is the deep resource of the self, one’s “only house:” “a single mountain” capable of “diving / miles within itself.”

In Kathleen Hellen’s poems, what we do to survive “the tillandtamp of every penny nickeled, every dime a habit” may be the addiction of the lotuseaters, “a made-for-hope numbness as the tactic you have mastered as the happy ending.” Unless, they suggest, “the only way out” is “to be a trickster . . . a fairy in the dome sponging off the glut surviving in the storm and drought.” Either way, the compressed intensity of Hellen’s neologisms are as provocative as they are pleasurable to read.

Sonja Johanson’s botanical erasures inventively combine text with both native and invasive plant parts to spark a dialogue on a number of simultaneous levels. In Divinity, for instance, she uses leaves, Pincushion moss, and a passage from Taltos by Anne Rice to comment upon “this brimming world” of both the poem and this planet in danger of being erased by our own species’ invasive tendencies.

The chiseled mystery of Alexandra Mattraw’s poetry resonates “like a ghost echoing.” Reading these poems confers a pleasure akin to “taking some of the sea into your mouth.” In one of the two poems entitled /Vigil/, a decontextualized “I” “fells speech to splinters.” In the other, it “split[s] infinitives to / engolden dirt and breath” to achieve that great goal of the best art: “holding in / the swarm of things.”

Simone Muench and Jackie K. White mine the sonnet’s dialogic and philosophical affinity to offer marvels of precise, profound, and synthesized resolution. These poems consider, variously, the insecurity of female identity via “the dress [as] a liar laced with history’s lies,” “the desert [as] an armory of black tires . . . murder ballads, and . . . silence strung along barbwire,” and the “garden’s rot, obit, subplot.” All serve as metaphors for the darkness we must lead ourselves out of, if we are to reach “salve or salvage . . . Not quite song / or sugar water, but a wrought ripe, sunlit.”

Kelly Nelson’s erasure-palimpsest-translations reveal the complex delights of the bonds she forges — and detects — between languages. Their insightful and sometimes humorous effects derive at least in part from the juxtaposition of multiple poetic impulses, starting with classic American texts, and ending with Nelson’s doubly-translated erasures. The results are entirely fresh and undeniably her own. In The Day Lady Died, “I spun no feathers around your neck” derives from the verb hilar (to spin). In The Road Not Taken, “I pray to see the possum before it sees me” is the road wished not taken — glad as we are that the twisty paths of these poems were.

Anne Riesenberg’s extraordinary tales “skew ordinary Neediness into a Darker Story” via prose as clear-eyed and unflinching as it is dreamlike, and sometimes surrealistic. Always, though, “Resolution tremble[s] Above . . . its own finely Wrought cloud.” Informed by wisdom, complexity, and compassion, Riesenberg’s resolutions bring us to “savor . . . the Value of imperfect Choices” and “the grace of saying Yes within the context of Love.”

In O Miselle Passer! and Red Tide, Rick Snyder reframes the preoccupations of “high” Western poetic and philosophical thought within the most banal public spaces of contemporary life: waiting rooms. Here, Catullus’ famous sparrow is trapped in an airport “aisle / of plastic blue seats,” while the “bounded lack of boundaries” of extra-linear space is suggested by a fish tank flanked by a plastic plant. These poems expose the inherent comedy of the mundane, even as they prevent us from assuming we can deduce substance from style; their incongruous waiting room fauna raise questions as eternal as any more obviously “poetic” predecessor.

Thank you, as ever, for reading!

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann

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The intricate constructions of Eozen Agopian incorporate many materials and techniques. Her complex pieces are like small universes, each containing its own private visual logic. Using techniques drawn from sewing and weaving, she uses threads and fabric to push and pull her works into three dimensions from their wall-based origins. Manipulating loose threads over painted and drawn color, she is able to create compositions that seem to vibrate as the color and form are in constant movement. They are intense and beautiful, the eye moving constantly over these landscapes of color and texture.

Judith Henry has created a body of work that will resonate with all those who commute on public transportation. The L Train, a heavily used subway line that runs through Manhattan and into Brooklyn, is a perfect device to use to paint an iconic portrait of urban life. Everyone takes the L train! Using an intimate format (5 x 5 inches) Henry has portrayed her fellow commuters with humor and empathy. Her loose and fluid painting style, superimposed over black and white photographs of the subway, conveys the beat of urban life.

We are presenting a snippet from extraordinary 12-year project, entitled My Brother’s War by Jessica Hines. Hines has sought understanding and closure on her brother’s experience as a soldier in Vietnam. Through photographs and text, both his and hers, she eloquently paints a portrait of both her beloved brother and his experience as a soldier and her family’s loss. It is work that is deeply personal and yet touches us all with its willingness to express love and grief.

Miriam Hitchcock makes mysterious paintings that hint at narrative, but leave the story up to the viewer. Her works on shaped panels capture brief moments of everyday life – a window, a profile, the gesture of a dog walking. Like visual poems, they reveal bits and pieces of color, form and idea which are effortlessly woven into lyrical compositions. We see the connections between her thoughts and observations of the physical world synthesized into images that reflect her contemplative worldview. In these paintings, I perceive the landscape and sunlight of the California coastline, where Hitchcock lives. Clear warm color, with a hint of clouds and sun, infuse her work.

The ceramic and mixed media work of Beth Lo conveys her keen understanding of both her family’s cultural heritage and her experience growing up as a minority in the US. Her wonderful images of children and childhood emerged in her work after the birth of her son and reach back into her own childhood as a potent source of psychological material. The gentle narratives of her finely detailed painting beautifully marry the traditions of ceramic pottery and sculpture with the modernity of her storytelling.

The carved wooden sculptures made by Hirosake Yabe are simultaneously funny, tender and bold. He takes the simplest of forms and gestures and imbues them all with a deep sense of life and humanity. His animals are particularly “human,” suggesting a universal connection between all living beings. His carving is masterful and bold, the marks of the object-making adding to the animation of his figures.

Enjoy!

Melissa Stern

Editors’ Notes (Posit 19)

 

Welcome to Posit 19!  If literature is a movable feast, then the prose and poetry in this issue is especially rich: rich in imagination, rich in resonance, and rich in story.

Given that, as Buzz Spector points out, “in modern America / we need a new understanding of myth” (In Modern America), we’ve brought together a variety of tales whose brevity belies the depth of their emotional register, as does the thin and potent line on which they tread — or rather, dance: between universal and specific, archetype and individual. We’re thinking not only of the powerful prose of Jefferson Navicky, Marvin Shackelford, Stephen Nelson, and Daniel Uncapher, but also (since, as Matthew Cooperman reminds us in Gaseous Ode, “we don’t have to balkanize”) the lineated verses of Elizabeth Robinson’s After the Flood, Adam Day’s ‘neighbor’ poems, David Rock’s ‘homunculus’ poems, and Tongo Eisen-Martin’s unvarnished yet rousing evocations of our shamefully culpable polis.

And stretching that thin line even further to challenge the notion of authorship itself, we include a remarkable sampling of Laurie Kolp’s centos, and Buzz Spector’s collage poems.

Here’s what you will find in this delicious issue:

In Matthew Cooperman’s diverse trio of new poems, “[p]oetry readings are pretty cool but the format’s all wrong,” although “the awkward fumbling human figure and voice . . .[is] a good messenger” due, perhaps, to the way “senses / merge in the strange O chasm of the throat.” With unpretentious erudition, sonorous fluency, and a relaxed mastery of the line, he contemplates the Mother, the “Futurity of [her] Absence, stitchery in its indigo” and asks “What is it to make same and different? / What is it to make a difference?” when “[t]he earth is hot tonight with all of its angers.” Perhaps it is to “write a poem / with everything in it — ‘a beautiful abundance’” like we find in these rich new works.

With irresistible grace and unflinching directness, Adam Day’s terse, tightly-packed verses probe the resonant physicality of nameless but entirely specific, deeply recognizable ‘neighbors.’ These poems are populated with Everywomen and men who, like our ‘real’ neighbors, “believe most fantastic statements; nothing / to do with truth but opinions // which change” in this “[w]orld bent // on splitting itself” in a time — this time — when “[h]istory / [is] deformed by facts no longer.”

Turning his powerful attention to the forgotten and the ignored in plain sight, Tongo Eisen-Martin embraces his “new existence as living graffiti” to expose how “[t]he ruling class floats baskets of swathed neighborhoods off to be adopted” according to the “terrible rituals they have around the corner. . . let[ting] their elders beg for public mercy …beg for settler polity.” In a history covered up and buried by religion, “heaven sure is secretive” despite “[t]he staircase under this slavery / And one hundred slaves.” On these streets, in this country, Eisen-Martin deeply listens, making it impossible not to hear: “please give me / spare change and your word that I won’t be missing in a year,” since, “as is the custom, two humans make a humanity.”

In these haunting poems, Jessica Goodfellow sends us postcards from insomnia and relates grief to the “paradox of Gabriel’s Horn” which “can be explained by the method of infinitesimals, by partitions so small you can never see them.” Postcards evokes the punishing wakefulness of “all night turning sinistral shells over and over in your hand. At daybreak, lobbing them back into the sea,” at times when “[t]he night sky might think of stars as scars — pinpoints where memory burns and burns” — not unlike the revived bereavement that strikes when we reconsider what we thought we knew, “stupidly forgetting” what the reader of these poems cannot, that “depthless means both shallow and unfathomably deep.”

Built entirely from the phrasings of other poets, Laurie Kolp’s centos display remarkable conceptual unity as well as seamless musicality. These poems combine lines by poets such as Neruda, Frost, Bukowski, Smith, and Voung to trace the arcs of their internal arguments with a grace which not only gives the lie to the dread anxiety of influence, but poses a fundamental challenge to our concept of the meaning — and the significance — of originality. In so doing, they broaden our idea of what constitutes poetic ‘material,’ and demonstrate the transformative impact of context.

In Matthew Kosinski’s hands, the poetic phrase beguiles and challenges in equal measure, daring us to keep up with the honed force of its clarity and paradox. Like the “savior music” they describe, these verses “accomplish transfiguration” by ranging “from a shiver to a howl” in the face of which, happily, “conventional wisdom balks.”

Jefferson Navicky’s bracingly original yet understated tales flicker between the surreal and the recognizable. The Butler’s Life depicts an unexpected and yet recognizable servitude, considering how much we will sacrifice to avoid abandoning another post. And the dark fairy tale, Moon Park, contemplates what we will do to “smell all the smells under the smells,” and “hear what’s really there.”

Stephen Nelson’s The Woods Are Mine tweaks such tropes of the 19th century novel as the train, the woods, the castle, the Duke, the convent, and the intimate narration by a mysterious stranger who “wanted people in passing trains to see [him] covered in leaves” because he “thought that might be of interest.” In Nelson’s hands, these familiar elements are subtly and intriguingly skewed, inhabiting a dream-like world in which “[t]he clouds were entertaining divas” and “[t]he leaves were sad songs the man hummed along to;” an interior world, perhaps, in which “nothing can ever be proven” and “[t]here is no political answer for loneliness.”

In After the Flood, Elizabeth Robinson ponders the uneasy state of our relationship to nature and each other. “What is your stake in this?” the narrator is asked, while volunteering at a homeless shelter. Although she offers food to a man “whose presence is fundamentally unhoused” he ends up disappearing. It occurs to her “that all attention is a form of loss because it cannot create perfect reciprocity with its focus.” Nonetheless, despite the fact that “[t]he world, we may agree, is ending badly,” “there are ameliorating coincidences. There are pleasures.” Perhaps the poet’s stake, and our own, is that “[d]espair may always be true, with its glare,” but “beside or aside it, rapture has its own kind of patience, groping in the dark.”

David Rock’s meditations on human agency borrow Descartes’ notion of the ‘homunculus’ to juxtapose and collapse the trappings of ordinary contemporary life with that of a Tibetan Monk, Odysseus, the victims of the Siege of Leningrad, and Moses, demonstrating that “[a]ll situations are life-and-death situations” in a reality, like ours, in which “the world could always end / but hasn’t” and “it would be a shame / to bail on what’s left of a pretty good party.”

Marvin Shackelford returns to Posit with two more exceptional stories, proffering their characteristically unsentimental but deeply compassionate insight into the messy interior of the human predicament. With masterful, economical, and often lyrical prose, these stories suggest what it is to “take to the world and empty your soul into it,” trying your best to get “’[f]ar as forever until now gets you.”

Even while they fashion new wholes from the found language, colors, and textures which Buzz Spector dismantles and reassembles, his collages underscore the pervasive quality of disconnection permeating literary culture “in modern America” — especially “the dangerous effects of living a lie.” What emerges from these recombined and fractionated book blurbs floating on colored paper fields are meta-texts built from meta-texts. The results not only expose but repurpose the misleading grandiosity of blurbs as a cultural convention — even, and perhaps especially, in the face of their raison d’être, as inherently secondary to the books they praise. In the process, these collages offer a clear but pixelated view — and hence, critique — of the culture from which they spring: the “hypocrisies, and desires” “that characterize our historical moment.”

And Daniel Uncapher’s Vanishing Point is a hypnotic incantation to an individual psyche (Sam) as well as to the infinite multiplicity of psyches contemplated by reincarnation (Samsara). In this rhythmic, compelling litany of sound and image, the narrator’s identity “remain[s] a mystery” even as we “[come] to terms with far more impenetrable myths.” This piece opens the reader’s mind to no less than “the defining quality of things” inherent in the beautiful truth of “meaning without mark, presence without trace . . . the suprastructure of mappable worlds.”

With our gratitude for your interest and attention,

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann

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Welcome to the visual art of Posit 19!

Gabe Brown offers a beautifully designed meditation upon the balance between the natural and man-made worlds. Her thoughtfully constructed paintings consistently evoke a gentle back and forth between naturalistic elements and a synthesized universe. They are suffused with rich and generous color which harmonizes the elements in each painting to imagine the possibility of an artistic universe free of conflict, suffused by beauty and delight.

Riffing on the form of hat known as a ‘fez,’ Camille Eskell works with complex notions of identity, cultural heritage, and religion. Her pieces tell her own family story, tracing their journey through the Middle East and India. At the same time, this work embraces a wider sense of history and storytelling, posing questions applicable to all families with rich and complex histories. Exquisitely crafted from both traditional and non- traditional materials, this body of work is deeply moving, even as it transcends genres.

Though the timeline of the work represented here is wide, this selection demonstrates Melissa Meyer’s longstanding interest in collage, and the consistent way in which she has approached it. The works from the early 70’s reveal deep connections to the pieces from 2018. Rich layers of jewel-tones carry an almost musical beat, and her forms practically dance off the page. They are joyful and vibrant, expressing a deep love of the medium, and of the act of creation.

In his current work, Joakim Ojanen creates a gentle, funny, universe full of humor and emotion. His deceptively childlike figures portray a profoundly human desire to connect with each other, and with and us. They smile at the viewer with a delicate and goofy plea to be liked. Ojanen creates a beguiling mixture of tenderness, humor, innocence, and technical sophistication. Working in clay and simple glazed colors, he captures the small moments in life that often linger in our memories.

Etty Yaniv’s densely layered assemblage and collage works make one keenly aware of the materiality of her practice. Her pieces pop off of the canvas, and then sink back into it. The fluidity with which her rich and wide array of materials are handled —from found objects to paint and paper — creates the impression that her pieces were “born” the way we find them. Although labor- and process-intensive, this work has a deep sense of grace. Each of these pieces carries us through its private narrative, enveloping us in its own story.

Enjoy!

Melissa Stern

Editors’ Notes (Posit 18)

 

Welcome to Posit 18! We are very excited to offer this stellar selection of poetry, prose, and visual art for your summer reading pleasure. And we do mean pleasure! For as varied and innovative as these works are, we believe they are unified by a subtle and surprising kind of classicism.

We are thinking, in part, of the time-honored approach to art-making captured with such charm and perspicacity by Helen Hofling’s process statement for her pieces from Tender the Night, which “muse on roaring nights, given and profited from, pilfering mass media, art, the vault of my life and the lives of near ones, poking around the basement of theft and offer.”

We have in mind, as well, the equally subtle, surprising, and essential ways these works are animated by a sense of story. By which we mean Ravitte Kentwortz’s notion of the juncture “in between / things, the story, an act / of fissure,” “between / an anima and an other.” (On Notes on Wall). As well as the kind of verses in which “no one knows what is coming,” although they are “cooler than duke ellington / on a swedish night.” (Kwame Opoku-Duku, politics, the old head verses (ecclesiastes) 1-20). And poems that “(wavelike) swing / . . . floating free” to offer “a new view” of the “curvings of curvature” that we “rise / and fall / back into.” (Stephanie Strickland, Contemporary Physics 1). Not to mention works in which “the quest widen[s]/ the terms” (Jessica Lee Richardson, Art Hat), and “complicated strata of meanings [are] compiled.” (Ryan Nowlin, Crossings).

Whether or not, as Rusty Morrison might have it, the felicity of these stories was “found unexpectedly which is the way luck finds someone” “at an angle of unfinished conversation” (“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (1, 4)), it is our great good luck to offer them to you now, in the hope that you will be inspired to take up the conversations they ignite.

In her solo piece, Lifelike, Devon Balwit considers the vitality of art, at once enduring (“500 years of hounds . . . gone to bones since the artist’s hand clustered the russet branches”) and vulnerable to the stultifying influence of reverence, “the mute solemnity of the archive.” In her powerful and disturbing collaboration with Jeff Whitney, History of the Knife, the darkness at the core of life is explored, and ultimately, embraced: “There is a knife in everything, in all stories of suffering, beetle to hanged man, finches at a feeder. Every so often, one sings.”

With “a mind made of drills” deploying “potions of temporality,” Laynie Browne mines the riches of language and memory. The resonance of these poems’ inquiries is far more satisfying than any attempt to answer the questions they pose, such as “how to turn twinge—to dawn? / How to rise up and twist threads together until they learn to cling—until—like letters you find your strand.”

Shira Dentz may not mean “to write a celebration, / not even in hindsight,” but the grace and power of her “still lines / waiting to converge” evoke such beauties as “the sky marbled with fat the trees/satin with delight” in these consummate celebrations of the wonder and power of verse.

Helen Hofling’s collage and text work both separately and in tandem to offer the viewer/reader multiple possibilities of interpretation. Her visuals are as fragmented and resonant as dreams, and as entire unto themselves. Hofling’s work makes the case for a poetry that describes the unsaid: ‘bird north bird the sound that silver makes.”

In Ravitte Kentwortz’s poems, the physical world is at once closely observed and commented upon by the multiple implications of her language: “a girl on a street. The wind rolling her faster. // . . . A plastic bag in the snow/skid marks hold it faster.” In these poems, the words wind, accelerate, fall, and roll through sense after sense, darkening in retrospect: “a girl before the bear/the bear rises and falls,” “the girl’s skin as it is skinned/ the bear’s head in a bag.” These images take on a gravity and a presence that live both in and alongside our own psyches, as befits these “stor[ies]. . . between an anima and another.”

In this series titled with Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge’s line, “as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real,” Rusty Morrison weaves the psychological, spiritual, and linguistic implications of damage and loss into a mysterious tapestry “throbbing in an idiom of flow/through the verb-form of pain” “at an angle of unfinished conversation,” which is no more nor less than the angle of poetry itself.

With concentrated intensity and startling vision, Ryan Nowlin considers life’s “dream of being and becoming” in light of “the palimpsest of emptiness / troubling your theory / of flowering.” Yet even amidst “the slow asphyxiation of light in November,” where “what failed to be conjured, / reality delivered with a shrug, murmuring bingo,” the moon is nonetheless revealed to “adore . . . the courtyard,” and a lost friend makes a fleeting appearance “in the margin of a dream.”

Kwame Opoku-Duku rouses our consciousness and conscience with these calls to “take off your veil & / get that look up off your face” in order to “see the prison camps for yourself.” These verses are spare, wise, and musical – even as they warn us against the seduction of “bought/status in the land of authenticity” in a life in which “no one knows what is coming” and “time & chance happen to us all.”

In the spectacular poem Meetinghouse, Jennifer Pilch evokes the paradoxical fabric of reality (“glacier sleep in 90 degree weather”) shot through with the unexpected and haunting beauty of deterioration: “snow sliding off // sun-stroked / degradations,” “long faces on opposite sides of a curtain/ wallpaper peeling like waiting onions.”

Jessica Lee Richardson’s delicately beautiful and hallucinatory “parables open doors” in which “you are skeletal in your blossoming” and “bent heads pillow forth with their sincerest apology.” Although “the quest widen[s] the terms,” who’s to say whether “the magic [did] the math” or “how to tell unfurl from furl”?

In Stephanie Strickland’s series School, a theoretically-minded yet entirely poetic eye takes a long view of biology and physics, exploring where we might be on the continuum: “Physical is always Special Case in/animate that slash that little twig that virgule is no physical threshold.” These poems suggest that physics, which is to say, reality, being “not a system/ not a shape” but “a Scenario       ever / transforming” might require less math and more invocation: “Maybe consult a drummer dubmaster houngan/ probably not a drum machine.”

In chiseled verses limned with sharp edges and dangerous insight, AJ Urquidi enacts the poetic equivalent of “sprint[ing]/ on hot coals with napalm scissors in hand.” In these poems which “keep apologizing to posterity” where “honesty fumbles in her bouts of proved worry,” we are grateful to be shown “life in a rusted circle” and urged to “watch the city shrink, then how / it zooms in to prey.”

John Sibley Williams may be “…looking for the world the world doesn’t like to talk about above a whisper,” but in a reality in which “we are bright flecks of light dancing into a back-drop of more light,” his dense and finely-crafted prose poems are as powerful as “clouds that cymbal and the swelling river and names we give to things that fight so hard to shed them.”

Thank you, as ever, for reading!

Susan Lewis, Carol Ciavonne, and Bernd Sauermann

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And welcome to this issue’s selection of visual art.

The exquisite drawings by Dozier Bell in this issue are lyrical studies of light, sky, water, and land. Seen through her keen eye, the delicate nuances of the natural world are captured as it shimmers and glows through storm, sun, and fog. These drawings create a powerfully moving portrait of life lived by the sea.

The huge (5 x 10 foot) photographs made by Tanya Marcuse transport us into a universe unto themselves. Simultaneously natural and unnatural, her giant tableaux weave together images taken from a natural world in a constant state of dying and being born. The work is dense and rich with details. Step back and they look like giant complex abstract compositions. Step closer and perceive her intricate relationship with a natural world that is endlessly rich and beautiful.

Sam Nhlengethwa’s portraits of goats are examples of beautiful composition, design, and a kind of portraiture. These goats exist as both “personalities” and as careful explorations of form. Simplified shapes and often-abstracted gestures characterize these lyrical compositions.

The dizzying array of materials used by Julie Peppito has often left me in awe of the fluid way that she marries materials into an almost psychedelic vision of the world. Focusing on the political climate of the day, this recent work creates a visual order from a cacophony of images, ideas, and words that is both powerful and magical.

Adams Puryear uses mixed materials and video to make projects that are inventive, funny, and provocative. His ceramic sculptures literally ooze with a strange slime that is at once reminiscent of childhood (think Slime Time Live) and something escaped from a laboratory. The video images offer a potent contrast to the forms in which they are housed. Endlessly amusing, his work conveys a perpetual sense of unease.

Enjoy!

Melissa Stern

Editor’s Notes (Posit 10)

 
Welcome to summer, and with it, to our 10th issue!

While not what is most often referred to as “summer reading,” this issue’s poetry and prose is energetic, surprising, pleasurable, and above all, various. From Martine Bellen’s Delphic utterances to James Capozzi’s lush expansiveness; from Joe Pan’s virtuosic fecundity to the compressed insightfulness of Alec Hershman, Call Freeman, and Becka Mara McKay, the work aggregated in these pages gives rise to its own poetic chiarascuro, an emphatic energy of contrasts fed as well by the moving micro-fiction of Anthony Schneider, Randee Silv’s suggestive “wordslabs,” an excerpt from a new collaboration by Thomas Cook and Tyler Flynn Dorholt, and the accomplished poetics of TJ Beitelman, Brett Salsbury, and Patrick Williams. So here’s to the delights of summer, and of Posit 10:

T.J. Beitelman’s probings of the intersection of truth and creation, vanity and desire, futility and hope, exploring “the real imagined” and the “imagined real” in which “none of this is holy. This is only art”;

Martine Bellen’s spare and exquisite excerpt from , inspired by Brazilian jujitsu, invoking “the efficacious arc of hatching” the insight that “delusions are inexhaustible”;

the expansive richness of James Capozzi’s verses, grappling with the psychic implications of “film that is a litany of artifacts ragged behind the rest of our evolution” as well as the elusive notion of “our majesty” which “blows the petals that form us” whether it resides in “maps of the coast the length of the coast” or “the life and the sub-life”;

Thomas Cook’s and Tyler Flynn Dorholt’s masterful collaborative meditation on time, identity, and language, which “keep[s] breaking perfectly with commas into slight unknowns” in order to remind us that “no matter what, what is always the thing mattering,” which “is not news nor is news not us”;

Cal Freeman’s sure-footed gems of energy, imagination, and insight, in which, as the author tells “The Innocent” in the epistle addressed to her, “grace is the shape of light that isn’t cast”;

the range yet compression of Alec Hershman’s lyrics, which convey meditative melancholy, wry humor, and philosophical rumination by tapping a well of surprise in which “the megaphone’s a dunce-cap; the helicopter lands with a limp”;

Becka Mara McKay’s lyrical yet gently wry investigations of relationship and faith, in which the “heart is/a dropped bottle,” “sorrow sags,” and “God leaves unlatched//the shore of sleep”;

Joe Pan’s virtuosically individuated monologues on one love which is wistfully “awash in what [she] cannot keep/or keep private,” while another struggles with her own “humble fidelity to [her] infidel’s lovely bits & bargaining chips” such as the beloved’s “ol’ stigmata’d-mouth-by-unforgiving-knuckles exploitation show”;

The wry melancholy and deadpan humor of Brett Salsbury’s pitch-perfect timing, reminding us “how your dreams rearrange the day” until “eventually gravity takes its whole toll”;

Anthony Schneider’s poignant fiction about personal constriction as coping mechanism and abuse, ringing with the potency of what is left unsaid;

Randee Silv’s ‘wordslabs’ constructed from resonant declaratives colliding productively like “circuits of cascading autumn clouds,” their “inward attentions inexhaustible”;

and Patrick Williams’ elegies to memory and mortality, in which “the lake is dead as a dream” although “we are too unfixed” and “someone is calling, but really/who picks up the phone anymore?”

Thank you for reading!

Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann

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And welcome to the visual art of Posit 10!

Alex Bunn’s photographs bedazzle and confound the viewer. Through his meticulous studio arrangements he creates temporary universes that leave us wondering at exactly what we are looking at. They are both delicious and decidedly creepy at the same time.

In Cynthia Carlson’s recent body of paintings, “Beyond the Rectangle,” we see a group of rigorously constructed, geometric compositions. Each painting is made of up many smaller canvases, combining to make compositions that inhabit the walls with architectural presence. The paintings are deeply and lushly painted: Carlson uses color to both harmonize and connect the compositions. Like jazz, they are syncopated and alive with energy.

Mary DeVincentis presents us with a world where darkness, both physical and psychological, is ever present. Beneath the cheerful colors and vigorous brushwork we see hints of the troubled life inside.

Carl Heyward creates mixed media works that are elegant and lyrical. With graceful gesture he mixes found and fabricated imagery to suggest visual short stories. Each work provides us with a bit of the narrative, leaving it up to the viewer to complete the story.

And Matt Nolen’s ceramic sculptures are richly layered with color, texture and meaning. Like surrealist narratives, they lead us along a dreamlike path where all interpretations are the rights ones.

Enjoy!

Melissa Stern

Editors’ Notes (Posit 9)

 

Welcome to Posit 9!

We love this first issue of 2016, which makes us think, in a number of different ways, about the expansive potential of artistic innovation. First, there is the incorporation and re-appropriation managed by the procedural poetry of Carlo Matos and Travis Macdonald, offering glimpses of the erased and remixed words of writers like Simone Muench, Mark Lamoureux, and Paul Killibrew. In addition, there is the implicit dialogue between new and previous work by returning contributors — in this issue: Darren C. Demaree, Howie Good, and Travis Macdonald. All of which reminds us of the extent to which art is, by definition, about incorporation and re-imagination, whether it is Anis Shivani’s Great Wall, Howie Good’s tornado, Robert McBrearty life story, Eileen Tabios’s litany of wonders and horrors, or the alchemical transformation of source material aced by every artist (visual as well as literary) featured in this exciting issue. So, it is with great pleasure that we invite you to peruse:

Darren C. Demaree’s spare, suggestive, “quiet, lowered /. . . roaring/ . . .& ecstatic” probings of identity, intimacy, and the quest for grace;

Samantha Duncan’s smart, tightly-wound, vivid constructions tracking a paradoxical “graduation from the gradient” via “veins that listen” to her extremely telling “curl/ of words;”

Raymond Farr’s wistful prosody, revealing “the sublime the ironic like a 5 o’clock shadow” where “love is a man ruled by the sun & not the itch in his bones” and “even this sad yellow paint has seven shades of itself;”

Howie Good’s somber prose poems populated by “a new god seated on a throne of razor wire,” “gray gulls, their shrieks like symptoms of dementia,” and “words, some bandaged, others still bleeding” mercifully leavened by irony, imagination, and even love;

Maja Lukic’s quietly intense evocations of cityscapes furnished with “gutted wind” and a sky which “promises to rain / money bags and emoji,” or offers snow like “cracked glitter, paw imprints in new dustings, / effigies of our old breath, frozen in the air;”

Travis Macdonald’s compelling remixes of poems by Killibrew and Lamoureux, demonstrating “how all true/going is taking” and raising intriguing questions about the relationship between vocabulary and voice;

Carlo Matos’ haunting erasures of Simone Muench’s Wolf Centos (themselves reconfigurations of other poetic texts), troubling our assumptions about center vs periphery, absence vs presence, and the loud voice of the unsaid, “when tenderness/nestles down/with her she-mask” — “sans teeth, sans/you;”

Robert Garner McBrearty’s impossibly compressed microfiction, in which the task of writing his companion’s life story deteriorates to stunning effect;

Cindy Savett’s intriguing invitation to follow her on “a trip where the babies lie flat/ tracing resistance with their fingertips” leading us careening “down the middle in an instant of delight,” only to stand speechless wondering “how do I sing of white lilacs and pine?”

Anis Shivani’s virtuosic bricolage of allusive musicality and aphoristic insights nailing “art, the fleabite to time,” transforming “partial manuscripts signed/ by the angels of detritus” into “experimental gardens . . . [imbued with] the nuance of musicality;”

Eileen R. Tabios’ masterful litany of all that could never again be forgotten, once she “composed this song that would turn you into ice, so that you will know with my next note what it means to shatter into tiny pieces the universe will ignore;”

and Leah Umansky’s inspired revelations of the “satisfaction in seeing the day as something clear for landing or for sending off” where “once, there was the falling of night and I was alone with its steepness, and . . . felt I was a pooling of light; a door-sliver and golden beam.”

Thank you, as ever, for reading.

Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann

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And welcome to the visual art of Posit 9!

Keren Kroul’s complex and beautiful paintings evoke maps of imaginary countries or the pathways of the brain. The individual sections stand strongly on their own, but conjoined in the large grids presented here, they make a statement that is simultaneously bold and intimate. The sum is as beautiful as the parts.

The mixed media sculptures of Sydney Ewerth turn our expectations about space and materials topsy-turvy. Her play with the object and its painted shadows confounds our expectations even while her materials and colors delight the eye. Her aesthetic is clear and the work masterful.

Don Porcaro choreographs an elegant dance between the two- and three-dimensional pieces presented here. It is evident how his work in one medium reverberates into another. His colorful and almost playful forms belie the serious artistic concerns that underlie this evocative body of work.

The lyrical paintings of Sarah Slavick are reminiscent of the movement of water, wind and sand. The rhythm and dynamism of her patterns are mesmerizing, with light and color moving through and around them, underscoring their complexity.

Mariah Karson presents a fascinating vision of landscape, whether it be the interior landscapes of abandoned school buildings or the poetics of isolated buildings in desolate settings. The solitude in her photographs is profound, and perhaps a little lonely. However, she frames this vision with a clarity that is elegant and precise.

Cheers!
Melissa Stern

Editors’ Notes (Posit 8)

 

Welcome, readers and viewers! We’re delighted to ring out the end of 2015 with the extraordinary poetry and prose we’ve gathered for this issue of Posit. It’s an honor to publish such a rich mixture of innovative verse, short fiction, and poetic prose by literary masters at all stages of their careers, to wit:

Doug Bolling’s Scalapino-esque “…words carried from a valley a stream a mountain / just to be there cherished, fondled” by gorgeous metaphors creating “a poem of unknowns / a Magritte refusing all margins;”

Susan Charkes’ wry compendia on Practicing Panic (“adopt aroma of freshly cut cucumber” and “elude infinity”) and Unreachable Planets such as the PLANET OF CONSTANT DOWNDRAFTS (“Gravity: not an issue”);

Norma Cole’s ferociously beautiful narrative fragments of a fraught nation kept together and apart by the ‘Surface Tension’ of an iconography of sentiment and violence, in which golden angels and grandchildren eating butterscotch sundaes give way to women sleeping on sidewalks, Halloween “or some / other masks beheading,” and “the mortars again;”

Christine Hamm’s magnetically surreal texts, in which “You said the antlers in the bucket were part of you, asked me if you should burn your necklace, the one with someone else’s name;”

Zeke Jarvis’s masterful short story about art, artifice, and free enterprise, Las Vegas style;

Halvard Johnson’s disturbing ode to The Art of Deference with its haunting last line, complemented by the resonant compression of 14 Interventions, in which “poem grenades,” like “old leaves,” “turn to / reservoirs of life;”

Carlos Lara’s virtuosic excerpt from Several Night, a “monologue of another destroyer” “ready for whatever’s next play” and populated by “numinous projectile clouds” as well as “music looping the dream archer of dreams;”

Anna Leahy’s “exacting forms” “pregnant / with possibility of motion” mirroring the beauty and menace of nature as well as “the spark of brazen imagination;”

Christina Mengert’s mind-meld with Spinoza, yielding remarkable hybrid philosophical/poetic ‘Definitions’ “by virtue of mental trampoline, / bouncing into idea as a consequence / of grace” via a collaborative “intelligence / conceived through something / more itself / than itself;”

Carol Shillibeer’s magnificent “loyalties to worlds, words and their pleasures…” posing the question, “What work has there ever been but perception?”

Danielle Susi’s brilliant juxtapositions, in which “Volume sleeps on my tongue today / because teeth can sometimes look / like pillows,” provoking us to wonder “When two sides of an abrasion stitch / back together, what do they say?”

and Derek Updegraff’s haunting and suggestive story Café, “about him and her. That’s all” although it somehow manages, in 350 words, to open itself to the far reaches of the universe.

As always, thank you for reading.

—Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann

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It is my pleasure to introduce another wonderful selection of painting, photography, sculpture, and video in this issue of Posit.

Meryl Meisler has been taking photos since she was a teenager, chronicling her youth in Long Island and young adulthood in NYC in the 70’s and 80’s. Her keen eye has captured moments that are funny, moving, and offer wonderful portraits of an era.

Helena Starcevic’s carved and fabricated sculptures reflect a distinctly modernist sensibility. Cool and stripped down to their essence, these are elegant objects. Working with a restrained palette, she conveys the beauty of the form, using the contrast between matte and shiny surfaces to allow light to caress the contours of her sculptures.

The haunting videos of Pierre St. Jacques delve deep into the psychological realm of human relationships. The Exploration of Dead Ends, from which we present an excerpt, as well as still photographs and video installations, is a beautiful portrait of a man caught in the endless cycles of his life. The result is visually stunning and deeply moving.

The sweeping gesture of Heather Wilcoxon’s hand can be seen in all of her energetic and evocative paintings. Strong and committed markings typify these works. Human and animal forms live harmoniously amidst swirls of color and form in compositions dreamily reminiscent of a life lived near the sea.

The sumi ink drawings of Katarina Wong are bold, thrilling and often a bit frightening. She brings us face to face with an Inferno of emotions that swirl and whirl across the page. Recognizable human and animal features emerge and then sink into the energetic darkness.

I hope you enjoy!

—Melissa Stern

Editors’ Notes (Posit 7)

 
Welcome to this, our seventh issue of Posit, which rings in the end of summer with a number of works concerned, more and less directly, with love and loss. Although the travails of the heart are foregrounded in the pieces by Carl Boon, Joan Cappello, B.K. Fischer, Amorak Huey, and Simon Perchik, we also perceive a fittingly elegiac aspect in this issue’s contributions by Andrew Collard, Ian Miller, Brad Rose and Katherine Soniat. So, it is with the greatest pleasure and admiration that we present:

Carl Boon’s evocative narratives, seeded with unsettling admissions and haunting insights, in which “One of us grew older, / the other grew silent . . ./ as the children collided / with monsters . . .” and “We see/the moth imposed upon,/balance indistinct from flight;”

Joan Capello’s potent prose miniatures, inviting us into the narrator’s emotional core even as they pull us up short with their reminders of “hypoallergenic bed clothes” and tellingly developed tics;

Andrew Collard’s enigmatic elegies, which challenge us to imagine a world in which “loneliness is its own falling” and “Hunters of the paper-tin drip on like ages, / impart the finest ripples as they come and unbecome;”

Joanna Penn Cooper’s gracefully grounded musings on parenting and other intersections of self and other, infused with an artist’s sensitivity to the magic of an everyday touched by the “daimon, not demon;”

B.K. Fischer’s pitch-perfect, penetrating prosody, honed into verses as wistful as they are sharp, positioning the staccato musicality of “your chorus,/your orchid-rhymes-with-orange oracle, your/stiletto Geppetto pancetta vendetta latte/hottie” beside puzzles such as “what’s the use/of violent kinds of delightfulness/if there’s no pleasure in not getting/tired of it?”

Amorak Huey’s haunting deployment of the image in language as brisk and ringing as “I am the cracked limb. The lightning scar. The smell of ash,” creating a complex amalgam of hope and resignation, nostalgia and realism: “After so many/trips to any empty mailbox, even the sky/would fall out of love with the sand;”

The resonance and reach of Stephanie King’s sharply compressed, cryptic formulations whose curt simplicity opens into such mysteries as “I’m quite sure the groan is interior” and “This is a mental aroma;”

The concrete yet magical flash fictions of Ian Patrick Miller, touching down in Prague, Chicago, and Hawaii with a deft touch that offers glimpses of a daughter who “goes to sleep inside her lips, the mouth of secrets,” a wife with a fever like “a hived, winged thing,” and a mass of angels “heaped, quills snapped, eyes blinded, long sinewy arms reaching up for whatever has tossed them down;”

Simon Perchik’s poignant and unvarnished probing of the realities of love and loss, in which “the moon behind the moon/works its huge tides” and the survivor’s struggle to come to terms with a beloved’s mortality is “bit by bit broken apart/with care and mornings;”

Brad Rose’s stark combination of irony, plain speaking, and elegiac lyricism, giving us poems as memorable and disturbing as the Quarry Lake victim’s “smooth, bronze skin, a membrane of beauty;”

Gary Sloboda’s eloquent elegies to time and its ravages, including the (deceased) poet Hannah Weiner, time itself: “erased in a fine gauze of leaves, a tide of quivering stains,” and of course mortality: “our watchfulness and the abattoir to which the watching leads” – for all ephemeral beauties, including “our bodies . . . tending their evanescence;”

And Katherine Soniat’s elegantly crafted new pieces, displaying her “quick-silver tongue . . . always wanting one more eternity,” taking on scripture, which “drools and rolls over” for “these twitchy recurring regressions through sex, greed/and bedlam” as well as the hubris of those of us “upright one[s] – who think ourselves first and foremost, especially while writing poetry.”

As ever, thank you for reading, and our special thanks to our contributors (past, present, and future) for entrusting their extraordinary work to Posit.

—Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann

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It is my pleasure to introduce the visual art of Posit 7.

Working in the genre of ‘official’ portraiture, Carl LeMieux presents us with images of our American presidential pantheon unlike any commissioned by the White House. They are funny, irreverent and revealing of the mythos surrounding each of them.

The objects Matt Mitros creates are a combination of scientific experiments gone sideways and a science fiction vision of the world. Surreal and beautiful, they seem to be born of their own universe.

Similarly, Chris Motley has taken the craft of knitting and elevated the process into the realm of contemporary sculpture. Reminiscent of the natural world, her biomorphic forms delight us with their surprising marriage of humble materials and sophisticated conceptualization.

Mark Perlman’s beautifully composed abstract paintings are deliciously lyrical. Color and line move in a syncopated way that juxtaposes fragments of pattern and form in richly layered surfaces.

Chris Schiavo’s unaltered iPhone photographs of the New York City subway have a fevered, dreamlike quality. Presenting bits of recognizable images poking through abstracted patterns of light and line, they capture the rhythm and energy of a metropolitan population on the move.

Enjoy!

—Melissa Stern