Saturday, September 28, 2013


I knew I was in for visual excitement and good reading when I opened the fourth volume of Pinyon Review. On the title page of this journal celebrating the Arts and Sciences, a bewhiskered bobcat stared at me, his grey-green eyes watchful for prey. It was a photograph taken by Susan Elliott, artist, illustrator, and managing editor of the Review, who seems to be as accomplished at photographing wildlife as she is at drawing and painting it. From e-mails exchanged with Gary Entsminger, publisher and editor of the Pinyon Review, I knew that the bobcat had wandered near the cabin that houses the independent press he and Susan operate on the Uncompahgre Plateau near Montrose, Colorado. I’m expecting to see a piece of original music composed by Susan appear in the Review any day now since Susan is also an accomplished musician, composer…scientist, gardener, chef…the list of her talents is long!
A long short story in this issue of the Pinyon Review is certain to attract and hold the interest of writers. It’s a cogent lesson for writers about the friendship of a wannabe writer and a seasoned writer/teacher. The wisdom and eloquence of William Blake, e. e. cummings, and Tennyson is included in this gut-wrenching spin about life in the shadow of death. The fulfillment of a teacher’s desire to return to his second home in mountain wilderness and a student’s realization of his purpose in the world combine in a poignant story by Neil Harrison who derived his title “Cold Earth Wanderer” from a passage in one of Blake’s poems: “I traveled through a land of men/A land of men and women too/And heard and saw such dreadful things/As cold Earth wanderers never knew.” Harrison wove many passages about writing into the story without being didactic, and a paragraph toward the end of the story captures the mystique of the writing process better than any manuals on the craft I’ve read: “…There he’d learned the alchemical magic of words, that rare, inexplicable phenomenon whereby the basest of materials, a broken stick, a piece of charcoal, a pencil or pen, could conjure up spiritual gold, imbuing the wielder with a sense of belonging, of oneness with the vast universe in its ever-ongoing creation. At the front of that classroom his teacher and soon-to-be friend, Alan Horn had voiced the precise words Everett needed to hear at the time, perhaps not even fully aware that he was offering the keys to a kingdom…” Wow!
Twenty-four poems showcase the work of poets ranging from haiku by Jay Friedenburg to a prose piece about writing by Jane Hilberry. Friedenberg also treats the reader to his impressionistic pastels of landscapes; e.g., “Blue Mesa,” a soft pastel of an Arizona scene.
My friend, Michael Miller, jolts us into an awareness of our good fortune in having been born in this country in a short poem entitled "Gasoline," when the smell of gasoline evokes an image of “a citizen of Tibet running down the street ablaze,” and he concludes that fortune favors us with “our place of birth/we walk freely/Beneath the vast estate of sky.”
Editor and publisher Gary Entsminger treats us to one of his poems entitled “Masks,” in which he describes a dim view seen at night when he pulls the curtain back and looks out at “the porch cav[ing] into ruined couch/below unshingled casts from lamplight,” a view which is transformed as he ascends “well rested stairs toward bed/as if heaven waits.” Gary, who has written and published many of his poems throughout the years, makes his debut in Pinyon Review with this single poem from his collections.
This edition of Pinyon Review is packed with the work of award-winning and notable poets including Luci Shaw, Robert Shaw, Ken Fontenot, and other fine poets. As a Louisianan, I was drawn to Elizabeth Schultz’s poem about “Reviewing Kate Chopin’s The Awakening,” which is a highly visual poem based on Chopin’s iconic feminist novel. Schultz features the heroine, Edna Pontellier, stripping on the shore of Grand Isle and crawling “through the waves’ swelling sheen,/through the shadows of birds/and sinks with the dolphins around her.”
Stan Honda, who photographs night sky landscapes and is a photographer for Agence France-Presse based in New York City, contributed the cover photograph and a special section of Wupatki Sky photographs for the Review.
Entsminger aptly describes Pinyon Review as one that contains “contrasting colors and images that highlight place and mood during the transition from summer to fall,” and he and Susan certainly achieved that effect when they put together this exciting issue. Impressive!

Order copies from Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, Colorado 81403. 
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