Dedicated to the memory of Thomas B. Gay, educator, painter, poet, friend.
(read more about Thomas B. Gay)
Each spring we use this reading loop to bring to your attention writers and artists whose work you may be encountering for the first time. In this issue, the group includes several who have already made their way to other lists, anthologies, and small presses acclaiming their remarkable work. We expect that you will be glad to discover them now—and to hear of them again later in their careers, as you no doubt will.
|The nascent perspective of Mike Antosia’s protagonist discloses a wry and compelling argument for how society might reach a collective truth based on conjecture and supposition rather than reality. To explore this epistemological quandary, the author tracks a young man who manages to absorb a glimmer of what might be a revelatory wisdom that says more than most would like to admit about the power negotiations everyone has to learn to navigate. Antosia gives voice to a neglected perspective while speaking to us all.|
|With post-colonial India as a setting, Tanaz Bhathena’s “A Moment’s Indulgence” offers a rich backdrop upon which an intense yet subtle social drama can play out—a story that challenges readers to question the role of gender and of the individual. Bhathena’s vibrant prose paints a country of paradoxes, where women are both the blamed and the powerful, and deftly exposes what is usually hidden: the taboo undercurrents that so often sustain yet contradict our notions of what it means to be human.|
|Renée Branum’s liturgy of a life limns a journey marked by a forceful honesty that is faithful only to the realities of a troubled existence. Blending the rhythms of life on the water with the frank realities of a dying coal town choked by poverty and a life crippled by loss, Branum draws us down the patterned and winding path of her narrator’s life; a life haunted by frantic dreams, destructive memories, and restless fictions all couched in abandonment and upheaval.|
|The startling imagery and constantly spiraling nature of the speaker’s voice in Jamison Crabtree’s “golem” grapple with a blasted landscape that mirrors the uncertain dissection of memory struggling with truth. As the poem winds and unwinds, the tension escalates—and the reader is left bereft of total closure, attempting to grasp a slippery truth. “What if there isn't a lesson dangling above us, if it’s / the moon as we see it, rippling up / from under the water.”|
|Brianna Noll’s lines peel away the layers of the human body to reveal its thumping inner heartbeat: music, in all its crescendoes and diminuendos. Her poems deal with a rhythm that is at once thunderous and crashing, but also quiet—and threateningly so, for if that heart stilled, what would remain of us or the poem? Noll’s writing speaks to the import of the violent hush that lies below the fervor of pitch and sound. “In that pronounced silence, / we felt a stirring in our chests, / our very cells shifting, buzzing / like struck tuning forks.”|
|Saara Myrene Raappana|
|Saara Myrene Raappana’s poetry reaches deep into the inherent void of our mortality with a strength capable of giving voice to the dead, identifying an utterly human mark on the inanimate world. In “The Nervous System Speaks,” a persona poem in the voice of a preserved human body at the Bodyworlds art exhibition, Raappana questions the finality of death as the speaker on display reveals a sense of longing, an inner life deeper than those of the bored spectators filing in and out of the museum.|
|Will Schutt’s poetry balances skillfully on the delicate boundary between physical disorientation and emotional certitude. Lines build slowly, one upon another, often turning the reader around at every break as they transport us to destinations at once revelatory and startling in their honesty. “Possession’s a sort of sad business,” he writes of the human body in “Apparitions and Incarnations”: “the gods / can’t win an audience in their own skins, can neither / confuse themselves with their vessels nor forget . . .”|
|In Phillip B. Williams’s incantatory work, a spiderweb becomes a hand grasping the papery leaves of a cypress tree, “Archangels crack against air like beetle carcasses,” and a hand becomes a psalm, a tool for communing with death. In the poem “Bend as Would a God,” he encourages us to ask: what is the point of our suffering? The answer, Williams suggests: “::Creation is a dying art::,” or the art of creation is, in essence, an art of dying, and our human suffering becomes a way in which we commune with our creator.|
Introductions texts appear in different sections of Blackbird but are organized in this alternative menu, a featured reading loop allowing easy navigation of related material.
A link to this “Introductions Reading Loop” menu appears at the bottom of every Introductions-related
page. You may also return to this menu at any time by visiting Features.