Tuesday, June 24, 2014


In Editor Gary Entsminger's message to readers of the latest issue of the Pinyon Review, he quotes Aristotle: "Every art and every investigation, and likewise every practical pursuit or undertaking, seems to aim at some good; hence it has been well said that the Good is that at which all things aim." To this quotation in his editorial, "Fool on the Hill," Entsminger later adds, "the work of many great writers sometimes waited a generation or more to entice. But we all have the satisfaction of knowing that originality—whether in music, art, or writing—trumps any other play."

This fifth issue of the Pinyon Review displays a diversity of styles in art and writing and features the work of poets, writers, and artists that offers readers a glimpse of originality in those who choose to follow their play impulse. The issue also includes a poem by editor Entsminger that shows an innovative approach to composing lyrics similar to that of e. e. cummings, one of the most inventive American poets of the 20th century. The poem, entitled "Dream Tracking," is a call and response type poem between two lovers that begins with "the first green-tailed towhee...beneath the window..." and ends with the memorable lines "she: everything impresses memory/he: expressing everything else." It's a unique poem that invites a reader to take a second look and as I said, reminded me of cummings' provocative lyrics that called for more than one reading.

Entsminger, who says he keeps a book of philosophy beside his bed, is committed to reminding folks, via poems and prose, to reconsider how they treat people and other wildlife, and the Pinyon Review, showcases the works of writers and artists who seem to reflect his interest in human behavior, environmental ethics, and his love of the natural world. I counted at least eighteen poets who contributed work that ranged from haiku by Gary Hotham: "warmer coats/the days for vine ripe tomatoes/over" to an eleven-page poem about the natural world entitled "Ouroboros," by David Cravens. And I'm sorry I couldn't review all of the featured writers because the quality of their work is first rate!

Poems of the writers who are featured in the Review vary in form and content and comprise the majority of the issue, but I was equally impressed by the artwork of both Susan Elliott, managing editor of Pinyon Publishing, who executed the cover design and the title page of the magazine, and the paintings of John Tomsick. Tomsick's painting of Billie Holiday or "Lady Day," the blues and jazz singer popular during the 1930's -1950's, is featured on the cover of the Review, and his five paintings of jazz performers entitled "In Performance" within the journal will captivate readers and lovers of jazz music.

Tomsick experimented with pastel on colored mat board to design five paintings based on photographs of jazz artists in performance. As I'm a progressive jazz fan and an admirer of Miles Davis, I particularly liked the rendering of Davis taken from the Apple poster, Think Different in which Tomsick experimented with vine charcoal to achieve "Miles in Thought." However, I'm equally appreciative of New Orleans jazz and was also drawn to the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band with Louis Armstrong on slide trumpet. The painting featured pianist Lillian Hardin, or "Hot Miss Lil," who was the first woman to be a major jazz instrumentalist and who became the wife of Louis Armstrong. The painting of Louis Armstrong, rendered in color on a black mat, is particularly arresting and shows the musician standing in a meditative pose, eyes closed, holding his beloved trumpet. As Tomsick wrote in the text accompanying the paintings, the pieces have a story to tell, and he invited readers of the Review to explore the stories of these gifted musicians and to listen to their music.

I am grateful to Gary Entsminger for featuring three of my poems, which he dubbed the signature poems for the issue, and I agree with him that writing poetry certainly trumps any other form of play. Entsminger noted in his editorial that the work of many great writers sometimes waited a generation or more to entice readers, but he's doing his best to showcase poets and artists he thinks will entice readers and art admirers NOW. Thanks, Gary, from all of us who were given space in the Pinyon Review Number 5.

Copies of the Pinyon Review Number 5 are available from Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, CO 81403.
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