I remember when summer seemed to last a long time. School would end, and this long, lovely, slow-as-honey season would begin, full of days at the beach and in the park, warmth and sun and the occasional awesome thunderstorm. Most significantly, though, the lilacs seemed to last forever – at least until the fall.
I've since discovered that lilacs last hardly any time at all; two weeks, tops, and they're gone. Likewise the tulips; likewise the milkweed. Summer is no longer that long slow ripening into autumn that it used to be; I find that now, especially here in Ottawa, it's a succession of movements and tensions, of passages from delight to loss, accompanied by the vague frustration that comes from an imperfect enjoyment of fleeting pleasures.
We feel that the poems in our summer issue take up, in some part, these threads of frustrated desires and incomplete joys and spin them into something otherworldly. "Embers," by Marcie Tentchoff, fantastically articulates the cry of an anguished would-be lover; Samantha Henderson's "First Festival" is an accusation directed to a foolhardy apprentice seeking power out of season. We've also included pieces that convey that long-ago childhood feeling, that perspective that allowed us to experience satiety so frequently and with such ease; JoSelle Vanderhooft's "Mary" and Rio le Moignan's "comfort" succeed in doing so particularly well, though that's really also the least of what each poem manages to accomplish. All to say that we've found the fruit we've plucked for this issue tends more towards the bittersweet than anything else.
Jess says: There are three very important things you should do this summer:1 read. "Read?" you say. "But that's only one thing!" And I would have to agree with you. However, there are three poetry books we recommend be added to your summer reading list.
First, Rosanna Warren's Departures is a lovely collection of poetry with mythic overtones which the speculative or fantasy poetry reader might pass over on the shelf. Take it from Amal and me: Don't. While she is a mainstream poet, her classical references are finely wrought and the passion with which she imbues each poem is well-worth the coverprice. "Arrival" is particularly a stand-out piece.
Second, Robin Robertson's Swithering is a gorgeous collection and happens to have been shortlisted for the 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize. It is impossible to open Swithering and find a bad poem.
(Amal elbows in to say: Swithering is amazing and brilliant, a modern-day Metamorphoses where the myth is the means to a variety of ends. To read it is to dive off a cliff and suddenly remember how to fly. Read it!)
Third and finally, if you have not yet discovered Catherynne M. Valente's brilliant Apocrypha, then you are a poetry reader living in deprivation. For the reader of fantasy poetry, Apocrypha is a feast: occasionally disturbing, often illuminating and always a pleasure to devour. There are so many stand-out pieces in this collection that I would be re-typing the table of contents if I noted them all, but especially worth taking a look at (and reading aloud) is her "Penthisilea and Achilles". It's a prose poem, and it's one of my favourites in the collection; I've already been caught-out reading it to random victims in the break room at work. Did I mention it's a prose poem? This is nothing short of a miracle, folks, so if you want to see prose poetry done right... All I can say is "Go! Go read it now!"
Amal says, yet again: Goblin Fruit has undergone a few renovations since the Spring issue, thanks to our extremely patient and long-suffering webmaven, Mei; without her efforts, this issue would simply not be. We invite you to make use of our shiny new forums to comment on the poems, art, and web design of our summer issue, or to discuss any other poetry-related matters that strike the fancy. Also, the submission guidelines have been updated. Please go check them out.2
Also, as ever, a huge round of thanks goes out to our wonderful contributors for making this issue what it is in terms of sight, sound, and sense.
Back to Table of Contents.
1 That is, other than celebrate my birthday. I accept donations of books, tea and anything remotely fey. Trips to Europe are a go, but I'm not too keen on visiting Antarctica just now, what with the cold. That's right, I'm a summer baby -- can you guess my sign?
2 But you already read those, right? Right?