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Mantis 12 Available at AWP in Seattle! - February 26, 2014

For all of you visiting Seattle this weekend, consider dropping by the Mantis table at the Bookfair to check out our twelfth issue. The poetry, as you’ll no doubt glean from my introduction below, is outstanding:

The poetry in this, Mantis’s twelfth issue, begins with a Yes and ends with the New. “Yes!” as Meredith Kunsarepeatedly tells us, “to the bar-tailed godwits taking off from Alaskan tundra,” and yes (if I might join her refrain) to Catherine Pierce’s “The New Thing” where one learns to “[p]ack up / your family, your dog, your courage” and finally leave the “strip malls of your life.” Kunsa opens our selection with the joy of homecoming; Pierce closes it with home’s trappings and fears. One poem finds a woman huddled in a bathtub with her son while a tornado passes through town. It’s scary to be lodged in one place, and scarier still, as any parent knows, to be lodged there and expected to provide.

I am thankful then for how much these poets—a wonderfully unruly family—provide anyone willing to open Mantis’s front door. We’ve assembled 14 of them (a Mantis high) for 2014, ranging in age, reputation, and interests. Karen An-hwei Lee pays homage to Kafka by way of the epistle. Mark Jackley, who’s enamored with a photo Dennis O’Driscoll, rails against angels and coldfronts in “March.” Rebecca Kennedy tells us that spring’s often no better; a backyard, she discovers, is just grass when we reenter that shared space alone.

For those interested in substantial offerings from single poets, we’ve T.R. HummerChristopher DeWeese, and Jason Koo. Hummer is among the best American poets alive and is able—in “Greek Fire,” a villanelle about the Sandy Hook shooting—to confront the topical with surprising élan. Koo joins good company in writing a Brooklyn long poem, only to ask himself, in the process, whether he “[c]ould throw it all away.” DeWeese follows deceptively lackadaisical routes to insights about ennui and ecological loss. “I have wasted your life / and the lives of many things / to deliver you this body,” he tells us (with a nod to James Wright) all so he can “drink the port,” update his status, and “wait to feel something” (“The Pasture”).

Derek MongComment