Wednesday, March 30, 2011



BONE BOUQUET: a journal of poetry by women, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Winter 2011
(no locale cited but perhaps Brooklyn, N.Y., 2011)

I’m always delighted to see new poetry publications, especially some that arise from a DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos. The most recent that’s come my way is Bone Bouquet guided (my word since it doesn’t use the word “edited”) by Krystal Languell, Elizabeth Brasher and Allison Layfield. While perfect-bound (and I wonder if, prior to printing technology becoming affordable through short-runs and print-on-demand, this would have been in a saddle-stapled form), it offers that intimate, made sensibility outside of the bellicose arena where canons blow to proclaim their privileged existence … oh excuse Moi, I digress. Anyway…

While perfect-bound, Bone Bouquet feels like a homespun publication, which is perhaps to say that it facilitated a sense of intimacy as I read through its pages. I also use the word “homespun” to describe it because it seems spun from some homey nook, like a kitchen table press. The kitchen table is a metaphor, of course, and what I’m really sensing from this effort is the intimate sharing by people, poets, trying to make their way through an at-times inhospitable world—and refusing to be silenced. There’s a passion in this endeavor far transcending the placement of a poem in a journal in order to get (a) credit and/or further a career. (And I’m not so much criticizing careerism in the arts as acknowledging the many ways through which a poem or art can find a “home” without needing the acknowledgement of establishment). It’s a passion that welcomes intimacy with the reader, as facilitated physically, too, by Bone Bouquet’s charming size of its pages: 5" X 7 1/4". Scale matters and the reading experience would have been markedly different for me had I been reading from, say, an 8" X 10" publication.

Bone Bouquet, per its subtitle, is “a journal of poetry by women.”(1) That subtitle (placed as it is in the beginning the journal) contextualized my initial reading. As I first read through its pages, I couldn’t help looking for what is “woman”-ish about the poems. Yet I ended up concluding that the poems, all of which I find wonderfully effective, are wonderful enough that I would have enjoyed them without considering the gender of the authors. And yet perhaps that is the point—that one could conclude how fabulous these poems are and then realize, Oh! These are written by women! Okay, so much for other lit mags still suffering in the 21st century from insufficient gender balance. (If you haven’t already, do consider VIDA’s recent count of male and female bylines in 14 high-end, literary-oriented magazines.)

As for the poems themselves, since I liked them all because I am a discriminating critic, I’m going to open the journal now at random—pick up journal; open at random—and just replicate one in all its glory. It turns out to be one of two poems in the journal by Carolyn Guinzio:
Yellows & Reds

No one is left

by drifting
too close too close.

than the naked eye

When we press

each other



Slow turns
slowly to stop,

but the line
is distinct

between beings,
the route

out of aloneness
being the same

as the route
out of being.

Isn’t that wonderful! No, I’m not going to tell you why it’s a good poem (poems are finished by their readers and I don’t want to get in the middle of that relationship). Oh, okay. I will share my favorite part about this poem—it’s how its ending is unrelenting without being bludgeoning. While still not discussing why it’s a good poem, I’ll also share that I appreciate its line-breaks and it makes me think that Guinzo would do great with word-count-based poetic forms like the quincouplet (explicated elsewhere in this issue HERE) and, ahem, the hay(na)ku. Anyway, Dear Reader, go off and have your own relationship with the poem!

And I’d never heard of the author before (though that’s just Moi and perhaps my circle is too narrow), which is to say Bone Bouquet, too, achieves what a literary journal should do: introduce new and fabulous writers! Here’s Carolyn Guinzio’s bio:
Carolyn Guinzio is the author of Quarry (Parlor, 2008) and West Pullman (Bordighera, 2005) and the chapbooks Untitled Wave (Cannibal, 2009) and Sing/e (*Cinematique, forthcoming).

I cite the bio because it mentions, like many of the other poets’ bios, various small and/or indie presses that are also just creating spaces for poetry and art in a DIY mode. It’s this type of independent thinking that ultimately reveals itself in the actual work of art. For example, the journal aptly and brilliantly ends with this last poem written by Dana Teen Lomax:

You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.
You want your ears pierced.

Yes, pierced to wear gems and other lovelies. But also pierced by what you hear, feel and sing back. Like the poems in this issue written by Arielle Greenberg, Jennifer Firestone, Tamiko Beyer, Dana Teen Lomax, Claire Hero, Emily Skillings, Dawn Pendergrast, Carolyn Guinzio, Kara Dorris, Becca Klaver, Jennifer H. Fortin, and Leigh Stein.

(1) One thought that arose as I read through Bone Bouquet is how—although I wouldn’t characterize any of its poems as “grotesque”—the journal would be nice follow-up reading by those interested in the anthology Gurlesque: The New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics, edited by Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg (Saturnalia, 2010).


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects as she's its editor, but she is pleased to point you elsewhere to reviews of her books. Her newest book SILK EGG: Collected Novels is reviewed or generated responses by Joey Madia in The New Mystics HERE; Allen Bramhall over HERE; by Amazon top-notch reviewer Grady Harp over HERE; by Leny Strobel over HERE; and by Jean Vengua over HERE and HERE. Her THE SECRET LIVES OF PUNCTUATIONS, VOL. I is reviewed by Edric Mesmer in Yellow Field and reprinted HERE. Her THE THORN ROSARY: SELECTED PROSE POEMS 1998-2010 is reviewed by Arpine Konyalian Grenier over HERE. Allen Bramhall also reviews the "Hay(na)ku for Haiti" series over HERE. If the latter two get you curious, please note that participating in this fundraiser for Haiti is supported by Marsh Hawk Press, publisher of THE THORN ROSARY: if you order at least $15 worth of booklets, you will receive a copy of THE THORN ROSARY which is priced retail at $19.95; this is one of the best bargains in the poetry world, even as it helps out with a Haiti fundraiser.


Elizabeth Treadwell said...

I just love that poem of Dana's. Nice post Eileen.

EILEEN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EILEEN said...

Thanks Elizabeth. I re-read Dana's poem simply as a result of posting your comment and, after many months, was struck again by just how unrelentingly superb it is!