March 20, 2019 by The Citron Review
These days, spring is less predictable in Asheville due to climate change. When I moved here in 2010, seasons were more predictable. Now, seventy degree March days are the norm, followed by a spell of snow. I don’t mind the unpredictable weather; in fact, I wish I could be magically transported to San Francisco to experience its weather: unseasonable temperatures, fog. It’s fun taking my daughter to a local farm one weekend to see the animals and flowers, and to the backyard for sledding the next. I do mind climate change and applaud politicians, scientists, and citizens who try and do something about it.
Citron’s spring poetry picks are unpredictable in a grounded, marvelous way. One word that comes to mind is heritage. Merriam-Webster defines the word as “something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth” (i.e. birthright). Heritage, however, does not mean one automatically follows the examples of his or her lineage—that he or she behaves predictably. Heritage reminds us where we come from and with whom we connect.
But we have to live life too. Alina Stefanescu’s “Sabotage (or So Much for the Revolution)” examines encounter in an empowering context—with verve—but the speaker cannot help but remember her mother’s wisdom and figure in nightgown reminding her of lessons. The craft in this poem is notable; a reader lands squarely on the italics of the poet’s move (and is already looking for the next one) in the first line of each stanza.
Robert Carr’s “Anchor” is what happens when the tangible aspects of heritage are missing. The speaker is left holding a telephone cord and the remnants of his mother’s voice getting further away. A concise stack of images begin the poem, taking us back to a time when the simplicity of toys meant family. In Carr’s hands, the poem is rooted and rootless at the same time, and now I reflect on the rotary phone, heirlooms from old houses, and my people.
James Nicola’s “Record” includes a nod to W.B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming” and relates to ritual and heritage. The way the one reads “Record,” listens to a record, thinks of the double meaning to record are all in play here. What if the center is a hole by design? To use another bad pun, there are a number of ways to spin this one, and there are all intriguing; I like too, that “Record” does not advertise a puzzle to be solved; the poem is inherently mysterious and craft-laden but also ends with dancing, which reminds us of its human element. In Yeats’s “A Dialogue of Self and Soul,” the poet exclaims “We must laugh and we must sing. / We are blest by everything.” Indeed. Enjoy the spring selections, friends.
Senior Poetry Editor
The Citron Review