Annelyse Gelman

Superior Packets by Susie Timmons

Superior Packets by Susie Timmons

“We are the Spanish Harps, / We certainly hope you like us. / We are the Spanish Harps, / Vwing, Vwing, Vwing.” So ends the first poem in the first book of Susie Timmons’ three-book collection Superior Packets, out this April from Wave Books. The poem is a short, bizarre, gleeful salute from an unGoogleable and possibly fictional entity, and its sing-song echoes of The Beatles (“We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, / We hope you will enjoy the show”) launch me into a world where language seems to have a pulse—writing as writhing, where every line strains to peel off the page and head out to live a life of its own.

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Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone by Annelyse Gelman

Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone by Annelyse Gelman

The poetry of the disenfranchised is not an uncommon subject: Every day we are inundated with words by people who speak from ignored lands. There is a clichéd concept of writing that I hate: That you must write from a place of great sadness or grief in order for it to be good, accessible, and available to people. I think that’s reductionist; surely many great things have been written about the process of mourning, but what of joy? I’m thinking here of Frank O’Hara, “But what of joy, that comes in darkness embossed by silvery images.” Or perhaps, “We shall have everything we want and there will be no more dying.” There is no disputing the fact that we live in a world full of treachery. But what about the poetry of people who dare to love and desire despite all of the grievous occasions in the world? And even greater still, the poetry that explores the ways in which these two contrasting emotions touch upon each other? It is my great belief that joy and sadness are one in the same, that you can’t have one without the other. Or perhaps exploring that concept even further: one begets the other or at least enhances the other.

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