My final issue as Mantis‘s Poetry Editor is now available! You can pick up your copies at AWP in Los Angeles (March 30th – April 2nd) or through our new website. Below you’ll find my introduction to this issue’s New Poetry.
“Everything that I thought would be gone is still here,” Natalie Garyet writes in “The Boys School.” It’s a line that I’ve returned to often as I reread this 14th issue of Mantis, my last as the journal’s Poetry Editor. For four years I’ve delighted in publishing new and established poets in these pages, and this issue’s work makes me proud. Sharon Black meditates “On Inability”; Andrew Field investigates the “untidy” self. Like the poets assembled here, it is “jostling inside like silverware during an earthquake.” If we’re lucky, we’ll “remember / every word of the song / that the wind rips apart” (Zilka Joseph).
Which is all to say that this year’s poetry contains equal parts elegy and ecstasy. Jonathan Greenhause finds self-pleasure in a legislative proclamation “[w]hereby we rediscover our hands / & resolve to masturbate / ‘til our wrists click & pop.” His take on legal language makes our election year feel a little less grim. Derick Mattern revisits the monastery at Mar Saba, following in the footsteps of Melville’s Clarel. David Wojahn—one of our most astute poets and critics—writes admiringly to two women: Lorine Niedecker and his wife. His “Anniversary Poem” reminds me that 2016 is a leap year. We’ve an extra day to see—as Valerie Wernet does in “MORNING*GREEN”—the world’s color anew. Let us all resolve at some point to join her in “v y i n g / f o r d a y ’ s y e l l o w / hand.”
For those readers interested in longer poems or sequences, Mantis’s traditional strength, there’s Arkaye Kierulf, Jonathan Lowther, and Clayton Eshleman. Lowther writes his “555” sonnets by crunching Shakespeare’s own love poems through “text analytic software.” The result is a comic romp in which “[n]othing really mattress.” Kierulf, a wonderful Filipino poet still unknown in the U.S., tracks a “Great Traveling Hunger” as it “tiptoe[s] on the swaying tips / Of sleeping grass.” Eshleman mourns a friend. Loss, I’m coming to learn, is something that “radiates, / its liquid shadow falls / across the earth” (Hadara Bar-Nadav). I’m very pleased to have these poets send me on my way.