Ibbetson Street 16 Fall 2004

edited by doug holder, richard wilhelm, dorian brooks, robert k. johnson

$5.00 * 25 School Street * Somerville, MA 02143 

a review by hugh fox

Issue number 16 of Ibbetson Street could be/ should be turned into a textbook called Vivid Poetry: An Evocative Anthology. Lifshin has never been more vividly evocative than in “Hotel Kaimana” here: Palm fronds from the/window, plums, Plumeria//When I wake up I smell/ginger in the wind. Pale//tangerine clouds over/Diamond Head (p.8). And the same goes from Lo Galluccio in her “Three Dollar Poem” (p.24), an impressionistic-surrealistic dream-poem full of cello rivers, orange suns and pink cars. . . . There’s not a weak page here. You’re forcefully pulled into myriads of different realities, like Lainie Seneschal’s “December Evening,” full of images you carry away with you after being hit by them: At sunset the gulls/lift from the lake’s surface/in a funnel of white/like large flakes of snow/whirling in a winter squall (p.22). And what are you to make of Harris Gardner’s scrumptious picture of one of those living sculptures you see around Harvard Square: She steps onto a pedestal./ A tourist stops to capture her pose./ A vision primed in mime white; her ankle-length dress woven/into a spring tapestry. . . . (“Galatea at Harvard Square,” p. 37). Lots of poems about death and dying here that really stick it to you. Like Sara-Anne Beaulieu’s “Mercy”: The doctor says there is nothing more/he can do./Food lies congealed/in the bowl. . .the carpet lies stained with tan bile/and cranberry colored diarrhea. . . .(p.15). Holder has one poem in this issue, “Archetypes of Harvard Square” that evokes old familiar types in Cambridge, like the timeless/raven-haired girl/peasant skirt/a clasp of books/held close to her ribs . . . .(p.20). There’s a smack-in-the jaw anti-North Beach poets poem by A.D. Winans that surprisingly attacks the poets themselves: I no longer trust/These North Beach poets/Re-living the lost generation/ Re-living the beat generation/Their days lost in archives/Their nights wrapped in media hype. . . . (“A Matter of Trust,” p. 28). At the same time, though, Winans’ latest e-mail name is the Frisco Kid, so . . . . ? The Frisco Kid living in The Now!

It’s not surprising just how strong all this work is, given the intensity of poetry activity in the Boston-Somerville-Cambridge area, where readings are as ever-present as the wind in the trees. The poets aren’t just Massachusettsian, though, but also from the Bronx (Benita Glickman), Long Beach (Paul Tayyar), and let’s not forget the Frisco Kid.