For the first time at least since the pandemic began, but probably several months prior, I finished an issue of Poetry. Not proud of this. But things are what they are. Reading felt good. Making my way from one end to the other felt good. The evenings after work, dinner and toddler bedtime have been too short and tired. Maybe sleep has been better recently? Or to-do lists are just more done? I was interested to see how the magazine had changed since its summer replacement of leadership. And was profoundly impressed. The December issue is one alive and awake and urgent.
In the back of the issue, one learns about the annual awarding of a large prize for young poets in the United States. “Poems by many of the fellows and finalists in this issue and more will be published in January.” For a magazine that often notes from the jump when an issue will be special or thematic, to wait in offering the explanation is a subtly important measure.
Yes, the issue is special, thematic to youth. But to delay the declaration gives a reader the impression of normalcy, that the voices are simply the voices of the present. On every page, subsequently, powerfully, necessarily, those voices demand the busting of normalization, which is a wonderful way for normalcy to be.
Just a few: