Literary Warfare: Weave #5

As has been almost usual with my personal brand of literary warfare, I have a poem included in this issue, so I’m somewhat biased.  In this particular case, I am only half as biased as I normally would be because the included poem is a collaboration with Michelle Fay Schmidt.  She’ll have to hold up the other half of the bias herself.

Weave #5

Weave is a magazine that almost fits in your back pocket.  It’s well-designed and has a feeling of craftsmanship about it (though I think my feeling re: that is influenced by the awesome, old-fashioned looking cover by David Pohl).

It’s also a comfortable length.  The magazine contains 86 pages of material, and a few of those pages are filled with art, so what’s you end up holding in your hands is just the right length for a few hours’ read.

(I say this having been on the editorial board of Gulf Coast for my entire tenure at the University of Houston – i.e., Seven long years – and co-Nonfiction Editor for two of those years.  I say that because, if you haven’t seen Gulf Coast, the magazine is a doorstop.  It’s a brick.  I believe that it continued to expand while I was there, stretching well over the 300-page mark.

Now, I would certainly say that you’re getting your money’s worth with an issue of Gulf Coast.  And I would also vouch for much of the work that they publish.  But I also have to say that I find literary magazines that are as long as books daunting prospects.  For whatever reason – I would say it’s the constant shifting of perspective with each new author under the eye – I find myself taking longer to read them then, say, a novel.  Or a book of short stories.  Or a book of poems.  It’s impossible for me to get lost in the magazine because I’m constantly kicked awake when I start to read a new author.  Now, back to your regularly scheduled Weave.)

In general, I’d say the poetry in Weave is of the lyric variety, based around image-narratives rather than, well, plot.  Of course, I use the word image when I should really be talking about words.  I’d say the poems are language-based, but that’s so general as to be meaningless and it also calls up the specter of Language poetry, of which this is not a house organ.

Maybe what I mean is voice-centered.  A voice-centered poem doesn’t have to be tied to images (though it might be) and it doesn’t have to be tied to narrative (though it might be), but it does have to be tied to a voice that pulls you, the reader, along.

Take, for example, Susan Grimm’s poem “To Misunderstand Ease”:

I don’t remember being cold.  I don’t remember
winter, shut down so far only the pilot light
kept me alive.  I read through the night, emptied

out, wrapping my head in pages.  No milky swirl
of thread and plan.

What holds me down in my seat in this poem is that voice that is so certain about what it’s saying, even though what it’s saying is that, really, it isn’t certain at all, about anything.  It’s a voice I can trust to take me somewhere, even if I and it have no idea where that where will be.

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