Monday, October 23, 2017


The latest Pinyon Review #12, Fall, 2017, ranging from the “Pines on Fire” cover by Jay Friedenberg to the end poems by Daye Phillippo, is another beautiful volume celebrating the arts and sciences. Editors Gary and Susan Entsminger have mined the avalanche of poetry, plays, photographs, paintings, and other art that comes into the editorial offices of their cabin in Montrose, Colorado and selected the best to showcase in this journal. It’s always difficult for me to select poems and art to celebrate; every piece of work — as my former creative writing instructor, Darrell Bourque, once said — “ is precious to the creator.” 

I kept that thought in mind until I finally decided to mention a few of the newest contributors to Pinyon Review, beginning with another Louisianan’s work, the glass piece of Karen Bourque of Church Point, Louisiana entitled Esprit de Femme, a 12”x18” work of stained glass and white agate cabochon that Bourque designed and photographed for the cover of one of my books, Above the Prairie. She creates many of her glass pieces to enhance narratives and poetry, and the arresting Esprit de Femme accompanies one of my poems in Pinyon Review #12 entitled “The Exponential Increase of Karen’s Art,” a poem that illustrates the synchronicity that sometimes occurs between poet and artist. Bourque creates her glass pieces in a studio behind the Bourque home in Church Point and shares it with former Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque whose regionally and nationally acclaimed poetic contributions have helped preserve the history and culture of south Louisiana.

Joshua Plack, another newcomer to Pinyon Review, gives the reader a glimpse into the multicultural atmosphere of “Philadelphi” in a poem that describes a culture “that has declined to be defined,/Its essence continually forged/In a fire that never needs stoking and hammers that never tire…where the Sikh cab driver and Korean shop owner/Stand in street vapors eating Polish sausage on Italian bread with Dutch sauerkraut…” Although this new poet is still finding his voice and style, in “Philadelphi” I hear echoes of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, particularly in the line: “Sending fluttering soulsparks that shape and reshape us…” Actually, the entire poem has a Whitmanesque tone and style, and a yet-to-be disciplined power.

Although Stuart Friebert isn’t a newcomer to Pinyon, his translation of poems by a newcomer, Austrian-born Elisabeth Schmeidel (now deceased), introduces readers to a poet whose work will be featured in an upcoming book published by Pinyon. The two poems included in Pinyon Review #12, “The Airport,” and “Scant Hours/Moments of Weakness” verge into postmodern realism and readers readily identify with the “restless round trips” of contemporary air travel. Schmeidel has mastered the art of irony in her work as evidenced in “The Airport:” “Birds in flight leave nests without baggage…” She also achieves what Gerald Manley Hopkins described when accused of writing odd poems: “inscape,” a design and pattern which are distinctive.” We look forward to the publication of her book, Scant Hours, in 2018.

Daye Phillippo has captured the aggression of the insect world that house themselves within gardens in “Spider Wasp” and “By Association,” the latter being an “ode” to one of my favorites, the sunflower. “Yellow ruffs, heart-shaped platters of leaves./The way they shade broccoli and lettuce…” and when the poet enters “the garden room” for surgery and turns to see sky-blue walls on which a row of life-sized sunflowers are painted “[she]was to know beyond knowing…Home again, in the garden to see (to see!) sunflowers,/the diamond-shaped checkering of brown seedheads/hosting bees…” Phillippo’s grace-filled lines keep us in touch with the harmony of the family of living creatures, and her poems cast light on the natural world in intriguing and elegant verse. She teaches English at Purdue University and lives in a “creaky, old farmhouse on twenty acres in Indiana with her husband and their youngest son.” 

Poems by Luci Shaw, Michael Miller, John Miller, Francine Marie Tolf, to name a few regular contributors; the photography in “Light Painting Water” by Steve Friebert, as well as an uplifting “Pastoral” poem and drawing by the Entsminger editors, comprise an elegant collection of art for Pinyon Review enthusiasts. This volume is a real invocation of the Muse and will keep its freshness and sense of meaning long after reading. Order from Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, CO 81403.

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