Reviews Reviewed

by Tim Scannell

Spin 39
(Auckland, New Zealand)

(Georgetown, KY)

The Sun
(Chapel Hill, NC)

Spin 39

edited by Jack Ross
(6a Hastings Road, Mairangi Bay, Auckland, 1310, New Zealand
68pp.; $20/3; March, 2001)

There are fifty-four poems and a dozen short reviews in this (largely) journeyman poetry journal. The bulk of the poems are narratives of recalled memory (slow-motion crescendos of incident and character trait), yet the idiosyncratic stanzaic patterns are refreshing, interesting to read. The real power, however, blooms (bright petals all) from intense and short lyrics, as in "What about" by Alice Hooton.

the stillborn child
the groundsman
cleaning his spade

the doctor
driving home to
an empty house

the woman
in a padded cell
crying down evening.

This poem, by p n w donnelly [sic], about youths breaking beer bottles on a rocky beach, its jagged line-length effectively forces the reader's mind to agree: Stupid assholes.

with pity as we
pick the shards

angry as each
four five

youngsters on the grass
with sixpacks

chucking stones at
the last
bottle on the beach.

I do advise American poets to subscribe to a few offshore publications, recommending ZineZone (England) and Riposte (Ireland); and here give a qualified nod to this poetry journal from the antipodes. (Seven bucks a copy is high, but one knows it is mostly postage.)



edited by Troy Teegarden
(Sweet Lady Moon Press, POB 1076, Georgetown, KY 40324
Vol 7, #1; 32 pp.; $10/4; Spring, 2001)

The editor subtitles his zine, "a journal of little literary value," yet most of its eighteen poems and two short stories are three to four notches above journeyman. Bill Widener pens a wonderful rhyming poem about love gone rotten, "Red is the Color of Roses and Rage," and Kristen Roach writes really effective free verse about being without love (based on a controlling metaphor of--believe it or no--a plate of spaghetti!)

David Chandler has a tersely descriptive 3-page narrative, "Dry," which happens to be the best poem I've read about old lovers trying to reconnect, trying to re-ignite a really dead fire (". . . she is dry, but he / continues to thrust"); the poem's ending achieving a perfect despair: ". . . her eyes are open / in the dark, staring at him, / and he begins to weep."

A 6-page short story, "The Box," by Michael Fowler, adroitly characterizes a 4x4-foot cardboard cube a hapless loner inhabits, through more than thirty distinct uses/actions over the period of a week. Its descriptive sentences and dialogue are finely honed, its humor acidly anomic. Troy Teegarden might be right about "literary value," but I highly value alternate literature for its…raw emotion, stretch and experiment, accidental nuance, and its (perhaps unconscious) courage to use our ordinary American idiom to explore mundane works and days. May Troy continue his fine editing and selection of material. It is certainly worth $2.50 each quarter.


The Sun

edited by Sy Safransky
(107 N. Roberson Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
48pp.; $34/12; April, 2001)

About the size of Audubon, but with a score of only b&w photos--doves, horses, owls, folks on the beach, and surreal juxtapositions (illustrating articles). Of three journeyman poems, the best is "Lemons" by Gail Martin. A short essay about the various owners of a single table is very clever--like Joseph Addison's immortal model, Adventures of a Shilling. A wordy and amorphous interview with a fellow whose expertise is shamans is very New Age, tedious, empty, and numbingly boring, filled with Guatemalan and Pueblo India, stones, earth, sky, dreams, etc.

Pat MacNulty contribute a very fine, tough, short story about women in prison which pulls no punches describing, for example, a woman in the dorm whose mutually gratifying habit is to vaginally tongue women after their showers. A long essay on "interspecies communication," while very bucolic, fascinating for two-thirds of its length (coyotes, dogs, wolves) is simply ruined by a closing dozen-paragraph, off-topic harangue about wolf-killing (chronological, since 1631!).

The best section of the magazine is called "Readers Write," little true-life experiences on specific topics (April: eavesdropping; upcoming months call for submissions on: debt; living alone; mercy; gratitude [for March, 2002]). The twenty participants, in this issue, created 500-1,000-word gems.

Must be honest though: all the New Age bafflegab (in the main articles) is gagging and odious.