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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics

Seriously, Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, where have you been all my life.
This journal rocks, and I am biased because I happen to adore prose poems/ poetic prose. Doubly amazing, the Sentence Feature in issue 7 is Contemporary American Indian Prose Poetry with poems by Sherman Alexie, Sara Marie Ortiz, Orlando White, LeAnne Howe, Susan Deer Cloud, and more to just name a few.
The feature section has a wonderful introduction by Dean Rader exploring the link between prose poetics and oral tradition, esp. in relation to American Indian Poetics. The rest of this journal is just as wonderful with a rich range of styles and voices that keep you wanting to read this thick tome. This is 300 pgs of great writing for 12.00 bucks from Firewheel Editions.
Order below:
I just ordered this book, Had Slaves by Catherine Sasanov from Firewheel as they had sections in #7 Issue of Sentence. Here's a brief description of it from the website:
"Two words, stumbled across while going through family papers, upended everything poet Catherine Sasanov thought she knew about her Missouri ancestors. Using extensive research and imaginative speculation, Sasanov not only constructs fragments of what might have been the lives of the central figures in this tragic drama—the eleven men, women and children held in bondage by her great-great-great-grandfather and his family—but also offers a larger view of American slavery and the artifacts and attitudes that are its ongoing legacy."
In the excerpts in Sentence, one of the things I like about these poems are the titles. Here is an example "Line Drawing of Ex-Slave, James Cannefax, Consisting of Ink Lifted from Newsprint, Probate Files, Census Pages, Historical Gossip, a Cemetery Map, and One Ripped Watercolor." The poem then tries to assemble these disparate pieces so that a collage emerges of the character. I like the scientific catalogue of where the facts are coming from, and the idea that we are being given the medium before viewing the "painting" in its entirety.
Morton Marcus has two poems in Sentence, "Pears" and "Navel" which both present an image, and then the writer turns and turns and turns the image until its inside out and upside down. Marcus does this with great effect. "The Guitars" by Ray Gonzalez is another one of my favorites; it literally catalogs famous guitar players and the weird incidences involving their instruments; it's both fascinating and macabre as he places these instruments in the room where "Eric Clapton's four-year-old son fell out of a 49th floor apartment to his death..." All of these tales swirl around these guitars that are part of these musicians like an extra limb.

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