As we dive deep into production for our summer issue, which will be out July 1, we also say goodbye to our assistant editor and social media manager Josh Colwell. We were lucky to have Josh work with us for the past year-and-a-half, grateful for his contributions and point of view as we continued shaping the identity of Gyroscope Review.
Josh was with Connie and me when we were on staff at the now-defunct Every Day Poets several years ago. We were delighted when he contacted us to see if there was room for him to work with us again here at Gyroscope Review and we are glad we said yes. Josh had the distinction of being the only male voice here as we sorted through new submissions and chose the pieces for each issue.
And now we are back to being an all-woman staff for the time being. We aren’t sure what the future holds (are any of us?), but we are clear that we will miss Josh and wish him all the best as he pursues new opportunities for his writing and editing talents.
Thanks for everything, Josh!
Arclight, by poet John Biscello, is an intriguing book brimming with possibilities. The book is divided into six diverse sections that carry themes through each section and tie them together with spirituality and attention to the relationships between people and creator, people and others, people and self.
I enjoyed the mix of short little poems that captured the intricacies of love and relationships, as well as the longer poems that delve into what it means to be connected with the spiritual, and the complications of love. Arclight is always drawing comparisons, answering and composing questions. Some of my favorite lines were about the Self, and its bonds to the heart.
The hidden vocabulary
of my heart
is reduced to essentials,
For many years
I asked Grief to
wait outside my window,
a peripheral guest
from I See Myself
He was my father,
still is. The bond between us thick
as viscous chains,
the sort that perpetrate magma,
and rattle and clank
when carried by the blue shivery breath
One of my favorite poems in the book, Funky Monk, describes the Muse as monk, an eccentric character breaking the bonds of solemnity to revel in life, to ponder the vast mysteries of the universe, causing bright introspection in the poet.
from Funky Monk
peer through the peephole
and see my monk
amidst the parchment
that is now whirling
confetti-like around the room
Throughout the book, there is a concentration of poems concerned with love, miracles, and religion that opens the reader’s eyes to how marvelous the world can be. The poems ask a lot of questions, sometimes answering them, sometimes leaving the mystery up to the reader to decide. In one section are lots of poems about women poets and other famous women, tributes to their importance and uniqueness, then poems about male writers that do the same. It’s an interesting look into people we hear about, but never imagined what their inner world could be like. The concluding section is a long dance between poet and personal mythology, a fitting end to an intriguing poetry book. Definitely worth a read.
from 6. Intraverse, Epitaph for a Beginning
I, a perpetual guest
to my own seeds
feel at home,
happy prey to a luminous gust
Today’s blog post is brought to you by our Assistant Editor, Joshua Colwell.
You’ve just written a poem. It might be the best poem you’ve ever written. It has imagery, voice, theme, all the right line breaks. You might think you don’t need to revise, but here are some tips on what to do before you send it out.
Hopefully you can take one, or all, of these tips and apply them to your own work. Maybe you’ll find things that work for you we didn’t mention. Feel free to share them in the comments section below!
Blackbird: Poems by Laura Grace Weldon (West Hartford, CT: Grayson Books, 2019) $15.95
The first time I read Laura Grace Weldon’s latest book of poems, Blackbird, I gulped it down all at once like a starved reader. I kept finding poems to fall in love with, lines that made me say, oh, wow, me too. I’ve felt exactly that, keep tissues around for that (Overflow). Oh, there is a name for that feeling (Call of the Void). Yes, yes, this is what mothers do (Overflow – again, Notice to Fibromuscular Dysplasia, Subdural Hematoma, How to Soothe, After Play). Oh, god, I love this world, too (Common Ground, November Morning at Dawn, Feral, Astral Chorus). I wish everyone loved this world and each other (Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc; Border Children in the News), wish privilege recognized its own pompous damage (Adjunct Accidentally Invited to the Club, Fine Furniture). We can do better starting now (the whole damn book). And I thought, yes, this is what poetry is supposed to do: make us feel like we’ve found nourishment we weren’t even aware we needed. Make us feel connected to this world that offers so much, if we would just pay attention. Make us feel grateful.
The second time I read Blackbird, I savored it. I sunk into the idea of connectedness that is presented in the very first poem, Earthbound:
The oneness between self and everything
is this planet’s secret, kept imperfectly.
This is the very glue of this book. Oneness with everything – our families, our neighbors, the prisoners and children and battered women, the cow who lays down to die after 17 years of offerings, the coyotes and birds and beech trees, the oracles that come to us through everyday objects, the bee that leaves her stinger in the bottom of our foot. These poems draw an ever-expanding circle of life that includes even the smallest organisms. There is no part of this life on earth that does not offer something for us, some insight or comfort or magic. How can we not be grateful?
And how can we not feel compassion for this earth and its beings, especially the damaged, the scarred, the ones in search of sanctuary? How can we not rethink our time here when its meaning shifts after a new medical diagnosis or a death? To understand how much there is to be grateful for is to also understand grief, loss, cruelty, fate, and to wield the bravery that allows passage through those difficulties. We have power to claim, as Clarion Reminder tells us:
The powerful provoke the powerless
to push against one another.
Their power grows by keeping us
in all kinds of prisons.
Yet we are not powerless.
When we rise up and gather our strength, as in Notice to Fibromuscular Dysplasia, we draw on power well beyond our own, especially when we are protecting our children:
I am a tornado, earthquake, tsunami,
I will knock your house into splinters.
I will drown you in my tides.
I will drop you into a fissure so deep
you won’t hear yourself cry for mercy.
I am the will of every mother
in every eon’s arduous crawl from sea to land.
Fierce love is an unbreakable bond. It is also the tissue connecting tender moments that lay bare our humanity. We treasure our memories, even as we leave them behind as in Moving Day:
The new people don’t know
we tucked blessings behind these walls.
On bare beams the kids crayoned
bubble-face stick figures
and I wrote poems
in thick black marker, dizzied
by vapors that make words permanent.
Power, love, grief, gratitude. We use all of it to become complete human beings, like compost, as in Compost Happens:
Nature teaches nothing is lost.
All that hard-won wisdom and gratitude and love brings us to the final poem in the collection, Anything, Everything. The poem closes the circle opened in the first poem. It reminds us of our “planet’s highest possibilities” and encourages us to start there. I would also suggest, as in the poem Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc, that we summon our will, like witches, to bring about a better reality. We have nothing and everything to lose.
To purchase a copy of Blackbird, visit https://www.graysonbooks.com/blackbird.html. A portion of the royalties will be donated to the Medina Raptor Center of Spencer, Ohio, where injured birds are rescued, rehabilitated, and released.
Laura Grace Weldon’s work has appeared in Gyroscope Review issues 17-1 and 19-1.