The Spring Issue of 2021 is full of movement beginning with the extremely imaginative and thrilling ride-of-a-poem-prompt by John Steffler, “That Night We Were Ravenous”. Hold on tight! Jeff Burt’s “Rusk Country Rag” also gains momentum with phrases like “a thin boy, all knuckles and buckles . . . full of bunk and beauty . . . all pants and chance”. Then visit Natalie Callum’s “Nebraska Sky” to calm yourself a little before you dive into Anne Howell’s “Drenched in Spindrift” where her father is born “between river and island creek . . .the river—a scaled dragon—twines through our lives, friend and foe, god and devil” which is the place she knows living in “the big white house at the center of the world.” Vivenne Popperl continues with a harrowing car ride in the Karoo of South Africa. (No spoilers!) Ellen Stone invites us to the Kansas Flint Hills and prairie where we might see “the prairie that’s left and stand in it until we’re swallowed by the switchgrass and the bluestem and we feel braced and insignificant.”
John Palen’s poems appear as Willawaw’s first FOLIO—I couldn’t let any of them go! He, too, brings an urgency to each of his poems comparable to Steffler’s but broken into separate poems, so we can breathe properly between each. He brings the reader to the Missouri Ozarks, to a button factory on the Illinois River, to the “Chicago Cold,” and into the prairie winds blowing off a “Ridge at Meadowbrook.” Like Steffler, Palen’s poems speak to a sense of place and to the power and immensity of nature.
Also in this issue, a second FOLIO by Khalisa Rae whose poems are all drawn from her forthcoming book, Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat, (Red Hen Press). A previous contributor (title poem to the book), Rae speaks of cultural appropriation, banned books about the Black experience, her father’s gardening and parenting (“Horticulture” draws the parallel), and her mother’s music (“Dance Hall of my Mother’s Womb”). One additional poem addresses the immense generosity and burden of the elderly women in her culture (“Before I Speak to the Matriarchs”). The folio concludes with a biography and extended list of publications. Her book launch is planned for mid-April.
Connie Soper, Frank Babcock, Dale Champlin, and Sonia Greenfield offer us cherished glimpses of domesticity including parents, grandchildren, and grandparents. Morgan English is waiting for her life to arrive “like an eager dog.” Irene Fick resists her “walk through that unwilling wilderness” to put words on the page. Susan Donnelly looks for a place she cannot find, an alpine plateau “where nighttime air is a pillow.” Judith Edelstein imagines a nomadic life where “one by one we lay the logs of memory upon the fire . . . telling down the long hours until dawn.” The interior life of the poet, as represented here, is alive and well.
Daniel DeRoux’s large (–think 3’x4’) flower paintings blossom across multiple pages to keep Spring at the front of your mind as you peruse the pages of even more poets. Check out his artist statement on the BACK PAGE. A reminder: things change—our lives, too, will open like these flowers. Soon. Read some poetry while you wait!
With thanks to the artist and the many contributing poets, and to our readers without whom our efforts would amount to so little—
Rachel Barton, Editor