Notes on the Poetry Selections

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December 21, 2017 by The Citron Review


Winter is here though it does not look like it in Asheville, North Carolina. Some days could be confused for “metropolitan April,” a phrase Derek Walcott once used in a poem. Other days resemble autumn, but without color from leaves that bring throngs of tourists to this city each October. So the landscape is green yet barren, slightly cold, and offers just enough of an excuse to stay inside and celebrate the season.

The Citron Review’s winter poems remind us of memorable territories. These “territories” might remind us of a place we have been or a person, but the bones are distinct. Reading these poems, we want to revisit what has been lost, shelved, or is still standing.

Jim Daniels’s “Astronomy” brings us to a couple on a starry, deserted beach. We feel this couple existed in real time. As we read this poem, we feel this could be a memory from our history. The spare treatment of the lines allows the “tangle” of the couple to stand out, along with the salient stars. The poem’s sound contributes to its emotional resonance — the sibilance in the first stanza balances the more percussive second stanza, while the poem concludes with a softer, but no less powerful “even now.”

William Greenfield’s “Retrofit” speaks to the worth and inescapability of our memories. Here, we advance by going backwards — all the way to 1973 and to different landscapes which might be a riverfront, a woman’s kitchen, the backlot of a factory — spaces the two people identified in the poem, one man, one woman, once inhabited. Similar to the way memories tend to surface, with runaway nostalgia, the entire poem is enjambed, which adds to its poignancy.

Thinking of starts and stops, Jane Flint’s “Waiting for the Firestorm” is marvelously fragmented. “What’s  unclasped / breaks free. Live oak limb / and rusty nail loosen fence slat.” The anticipation of fire is seen through the eyes of a dog and through manifestations of the natural world, while the last stanza breaks from the previous three. Flint has a deft touch with sound, and I did not notice the rhyme scheme until after accepting the poem. Our hearts go out to those affected by the California wildfires. 

Francine Rubin’s image-driven “Hallgrímskirkja Church” concludes the winter poetry selections, taking us to Reykjavik, Iceland and to a structure that sings. The poem is written as an extended simile, with like as the first word and whale bones completing the first line. What follows is a metaphor for the body that has filled this place of worship at times in our shared history, and that has the capacity to turn stone into song.

We hope you enjoy these poems and the selections in our winter issue, and we hope you enjoy the holiday season.

Warmly,
Eric Steineger
Senior Poetry Editor
The Citron Review

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James Ducat, Badwater Basin Telescope Peak 2016

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