Over the December holidays, one of us (Leonard) recommended the very popular poet Mary Oliver to a 13-year-old who is passionately writing poetry. Oliver seemed like a good choice as her work is understandable and relatable, passionate, engaging, and full of lyrical images about encounters with nature. She’s also ever seeking out the experience of wonder in the moment.
When both of us discussed this, we agreed that the qualities that make Oliver so worthy of recommendation are the ones we are both keen to see for prose and poetry in Boomer Lit Mag—accessible, grounded, passionate, and nuanced. A sense of compassion and wonder doesn’t hurt, either—whether for the narrators or us as readers.
The work we receive doesn’t need to mimic Oliver’s style or themes in order to have those qualities. The writers in our Winter 2018 issue show this in their own ways.
We showcase two prose poets with somewhat offbeat works that may wake up a different sense of the world for you. Prose poems, often reading like cryptic or otherworldly short experiences or stories, at their best offer the punch and compactness of other poetic forms with the discovery of a narrative. Barry Silesky’s offer mystery with a familiar-sounding voice while Peycho Kanev conjures up the surreal or the Kafkaesque with his poems. We also have Catherine Jagoe who explores aspects of aging with a strong, compassionate voice, and Gale Acuff who provides a child’s eye view of religion and authority, and then the view of that same character as an adolescent. Individual poems by Labecca Jones and Alexander Joseph round out this issue’s poetry with a memory of a distant mother and a small love note of a poem no longer than a grocery list.
The engaging range of prose we offer in this issue captures the qualities of relatability and passion we look for in our submissions pile. “D: 1969” is Rita Ciresi’s beautifully evocative story (poem?) of a sister’s struggle to make sense of the loss of an older brother in the Vietnam War long after the confusing events of childhood. The slightly cynical and completely hilarious “Quick Learner,” Robert Douglas Friedman’s fictionalized account of his adolescent quest for a state-of-the-art stereo system, lovingly celebrates a collection of odd but recognizable family members. If you love quirky characters as much as we do, you will especially enjoy G. K. Wuori’s “Slightly Foolish,” a piece of masterfully deft writing indeed. Robert McKean’s “Invisible Weaving” subtly evokes the complex lives of a blue collar family in Western Pennsylvania. And, finally, we have the pleasure of introducing “The Braid,” by Doris Spears, a gutsy coming-of-age story we will not soon forget.
Happy reading, and Like us on Facebook,
Leonard Lang and Stephen Peters, Editors