blackbirdonline journalSpring 2011  Vol. 10  No. 1

        Dedicated to the memory of Thomas B. Gay, educator, painter, poet, friend.
        (read more about Thomas B. Gay)

Each spring we use this reading loop to bring to your attention writers and artists whose work you may be encountering for the first time. In this issue, the group includes several who have already made their way to other lists, anthologies, and small presses acclaiming their remarkable work. We expect that you will be glad to discover them now—and to hear of them again later in their careers, as you no doubt will.

Alice Bolin    
Alice Bolin reveals the intimate give-and-take of our emotional relationship with the natural world. By calling on lush and organic sonic textures that rival that of those virgin forest, Bolin’s speakers direct their own transformations. “To keep from crying, I considered you // a frontier, a fallowed wing. / I bit my lip into a talisman.” Reverence for a flower, the moon, the night, becomes reverence for the self. These poems remind us that we need the exchange that comes with metaphor to complete our sense of place and self. Alice Bolin
Dexter L. Booth    
Dexter L. Booth’s speakers exert a cinematic authority over image that is at once terse and inclusive. He particularly exercises the power of statement to show how the universal expanses of space and time parallel the distances between individuals. Booth forces a consideration of Pandora’s miseries—suffering, despair, dismemberment, disengagement, lost love, jealousy, and self-deception abound. But hope holds true and remains in the box. These poems strike at the core of conflict, leaving us with an understanding of the bitter and beautiful truth: “such accidents come from devotion.”   Dexter Booth
Claudia Cortese    
In poems that deeply inhabit the body and shock us out of our own, Claudia Cortese enacts the very sorrow, ecstasy, and quirky, unpredictable fleshiness that we all experience and wrestle with in our lives. “To love is to suffer,” she writes, “and to suffer is to give yourself to the world.” Indeed, these poems fearlessly give themselves to the world as stark and surprisingly tender incisions. Cortese’s cuts obliterate mendacity and bring us the possibility of something new, simultaneously dark and touching, but refreshingly human.   Claudia Cortese
Michael Croley    
In “Passings in the Night,” Michael Croley offers an intimate, quietly powerful exploration of the grief-stricken divide that separates a son and father after the one person capable of bringing them together—the protagonist's mother—dies suddenly in her sleep. Croley writes, “There was no one left to work out the silence between him and his father. There was no interpreter left to relay messages. Who would tell both men that they loved each other?”   Michael Croley
Elizabeth Denton    
Elizabeth Denton's wise and warm-hearted story follows a middle-aged couple through the ups and downs of a day in the suburbs. In “Zeke's Dead,” Denton shows herself to be a true master at creating well-rounded and recognizable characters; here, Denton’s knack for capturing the nuances of polite marital discord is matched by her generosity with these characters, the sympathetic humanity the reader senses hovering just behind this story's sharp-tongued dialogue and sly sense of humor.   Elizabeth Denton
Thomas DeSanto    
A compelling lyrical portrait of a fifteen-year-old boy’s struggle to understand the tragedies, both shocking and mundane, that punctuate his immigrant family’s quiet life in downtrodden Detroit, Thomas Desanto’s “Haitian Death Song” deftly weaves moments of disturbing and graphic violence into a larger story of revelation and rebirth. “Know that you will lose more,” the boy’s mother admonishes him at one point, “That you will love more. That you will feel again and again this pain. Know that this is not the end of anything.”   Thomas DeSanto
Joshua Gottlieb-Miller    
In Joshua Gottlieb-Miller’s poems, perhaps the most striking presence is absence: of lost girlfriends, the feeling of a Charlie horse, God, and—written in between all these fleeting presences—a sense of self. These poems reach for solid grounding through a process of recognizing what we do not know—or rather, what we know not to be true. They are, as one poem’s title suggests, a process of “negative theology”—“Some say [God’s] playing // hide and seek, and that he’s hiding”—and Gottlieb-Miller looks and comes closer to finding whatever he’s looking for by slowly figuring where they’re not.   Joshua Gottlieb-Miller
Cynthia Marie Hoffman    
Cynthia Marie Hoffman’s poems examine the fragility of physical presence, from our beginnings as “a cluster of gum balls in a glass balloon” in “The Ball of Human Cells Speaks to the Double Helix” to a reminder that death often pays for life in “No Midwives Can Do What Angels Can.” Through the use of multiple perspectives and probing repetitions, Hoffman demands that her reader confront his or her own delicate origin and inevitable demise.   Cynthia Marie Hoffman
Corey Van Landingham    
Fox fur. Pine needles. A burnt tree. The shadow of a chicken hawk. Corey Van Landingham’s poetry gathers fragments of surreal imagery and molds them into a dream-like environment rich with ominous creatures, haunting darkness, and a speaker crippled by the “brutal condition of having hands.” Her precise prose poems resist the happy connotations of their titles, creating a tension between what is easily perceived and the predators that circle out of sight.   Corey Van Landingham

Introductions texts appear in different sections of Blackbird but are organized in this alternative menu, a featured reading loop allowing easy navigation of related material.

A link to this “Introductions Reading Loop” menu appears at the bottom of every Introductions-related page. You may also return to this menu at any time by visiting Features.