Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. Today, poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips reflects on the collaborative work of editing the magazine.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about editing Fringe is dreaming up questions to ask the poets we publish. The timing of this final issue means I haven’t been able to do the usual interviews with the poets who appear in it. But I’ve asked myself a few questions during the course of my work on the magazine, and here I thought I’d answer a couple of them.
The one I’ve asked most frequently is this: Why did I have to run off to an expensive grad school in the chilly north instead of going to one of the fine programs down here in the warm places? I wanted certain things—a program that offered coursework in prosody, most particularly—and I could not find them in the southeast. I found the courses, but it turns out the north is not the place for me. I was lucky there in a few other aspects, though, and one of them was that I met my fellow Fringe editors.
Considered together, the poetry we’ve published can seem either eclectic or disparate, depending on the... more »more »
Fringe published its last issue on Monday, June 24. As part of the goodbye, we asked former contributors and staff to write about their experiences with the magazine.
It’s where you want to be, isn’t it, and where you’re scared to be? On the edge of the water, where grasses dangle over the creek. I’m a poetry-reader and a poet, mostly, so those are the sections of Fringe I’ve spent time with, hanging out where the poems rush by.
What I love about poetry at Fringe is that edginess isn’t just a surface quality. The most fashionable contemporary poets play with verbal texture, juxtaposing one image oddly against the next, but there’s isn’t always much at stake. In the black, white, and red landscape of Fringe, you really do see poets working through hard intellectual, emotional, and stylistic problems. They’re at the end of terra firma for a reason: because that’s where all the interesting action is.
Fringe has been hospitable to all kinds of poetic weirdness. Sometimes it’s formal experiment. Sometimes it’s a kind of spiritual strangeness, as in Molly Weigel’s “Spare the Snowman” (01.26.2013):
I walk beside the river where the bark of the birch tree rolls back like peeled skin, as if a damp new tree... more »more »
Molly Weigel’s poems “Spare the Snowman” and “Le Roy du Sentiment” appeared in Fringe in January. Her translation of the Argentine poet Oliverio Girondo, In the Moremarrow, will be available in April from Action Books, which also published her translation of Jorge Santiago Perednik. Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips interviewed her by email in January and February.
How did you begin writing poetry?
I wrote collaborative poems with my dad when I was 4 or 5—the kind where you fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise and take turns writing words the other person can’t see. At first, we just wrote single words, and did not look at anything of what the other person wrote. Then we put it all together to see what we had. Here’s a surviving example: “Wasn’t paper windy? / Rap-running rug-leaves rip, / Lick like milk shining silk everywhere.” I still love to do this; I love poetry’s ability to make itself.
Talk about how the crows and Roy Orbison came to converge in “Le Roy du Sentiment.”
I had recently watched the 1988 television special A Black and White Night on PBS. It’s a tribute concert shot in black and white, in which Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou... more »more »
Tony Leuzzi’s poems appeared recently in Fringe, and his new collection of interviews with other poets, Passwords Primeval, is out this week from BOA Editions. Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips recently interviewed Leuzzi; here he shares his thoughts on the process of homophonic translation, math-derived poetical forms, heteronormative tendencies in the poetry publishing world, and the new book—which is available on the BOA website.
How did you first encounter Miguel Hernandez’s work?
My initial encounters with Hernandez were through Ted Genoways’s magnificent collection of the poet’s work as translated by him and many well-known poets into English. (Chicago University Press released it in 2001, though it is now out of print and should be reissued without delay.) I had read Lorca, Macado, and Cernuda, but until that time I’d never even heard of this Spanish poet. When I began to read his poems I felt an instant connection to them. Some of those lyrics from The Songbook and Balladbook of Absences, which he wrote in prison, are so stunning! Consider this gorgeous, untitled lyric, translated at http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Spanish/Hernandez.htm#_Toc532737972:more »
In this week’s moving piece about what it was like to go public about her abortion, Carolyn Jones talks about the importance of first person stories in the political debate around reproductive rights.
With that in mind, Fringe is launching a new blog project. Send us a short something expressing your viewpoint and/or experiences with contraception — a limerick, haiku, six-word novel, or micro-fiction of 50 words or less.
Email submissions to FringeTheMagazine@gmail.com. We’ll post the best — with attribution — on the blog.more »
Dianne Timblin’s three poems appeared recently in Fringe. (View in Firefox for best results.) Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips asked her about the poems and her work. Despite an avowed difficulty with the either-or, she graciously agreed to complete our binary round as well. Find her responses below, and please share your own thoughts in the comments.
When you think of remnants, what’s the first poem or poet that comes to mind?
Keats is the very first who comes to mind: all those unwritten poems. And “Here lies one whose name was writ in water”—the hardest-working epitaph in poetry, at least in terms of setting up a whole body of work as a remnant!
But in terms of projects and works, Susan Howe, definitely. Her work is steeped in the residual and the fragmentary even as it’s haunted by them, and I find her book Souls of the Labadie Tract especially rewarding in that regard. Particularly the final section of the book, “Fragment of the Wedding Dress of Sarah Pierpont Edwards,” with its opening image of the actual cloth remnant, its sublime closing line—slim, vertical, elegant, and almost completely obscured—and all those exquisite, assertively wrought fragments in between. For me reading Howe raises all sorts... more »more »
Christina Cook is our featured poet this week. Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips asked for her thoughts about remnants, the poems, and (a perennial favorite question) how she makes time to write. At the end you’ll find a writing prompt courtesy of Christina. Happy NaPoWriMo!
When you think of remnants, what’s the first poem or poet that comes to mind?
Definitely Sappho. All we have of her poems are remnants of the full poems she wrote. She is a poet whose work we will never fully know.
How did “21st Century Sappho” begin?
The poem began when I was reading a new translation of Sappho’s poetry, Sweetbitter Love, by the extraordinary translator Willis Barnstone. As I was reading, it occurred to me that there are two ways to read these poems, one being to read them as the remnants they are, in which case we are conscious of reading incomplete, excerpted poems. The other way was much more interesting to me: to read the fragments as complete poems, which is not really a stretch since this approach simply transformed them into elliptical poems. Most all poems are elliptical to some degree: Part of the essence of poetry is to engage the reader in completing the... more »more »
This week we’re featuring three poems by Maryann Corbett. Poetry editor Anna Lena Phillips asked for her thoughts on the poems and on the writing life; she shares them here. Please share your own thoughts about the poems in the comments section below.
“Art Song’s Chicken Wings” makes such a great conceit for “Stream.” How did the idea for the poem come to you?
Utter serendipity and plain fact. There really was, for many years, a billboard right near one of the entrance ramps to Interstate 94 that advertised for a local Asian restaurant whose proprietor’s name was Art Song. As a singer with some serious training, I have several basic books whose covers read “Arias and Art Songs.” Over many years in choruses, I’ve known many, many aspiring musicians who have had to give up their career dreams. Those streams of consciousness had a way of segueing one into the other.
You’ve used couplets of tetrameter to good effect in “Mean” as well as other poems, such as this one from Umbrella. The closeness—maybe I mean tightness, along with the really nice rhyme, make these poems the kind I want to pick up and hold, to see on a broadside (or a billboard,... more »more »