Second Anniversary Edition
With this, the December 1, 2008 release, Umbrella celebrates its second anniversary. For your editor, the two years could not have flown by faster. How rewarding it’s been to have seen this project through from what was merely an urgent idea to an actual, breathing and living publication which now receives some 15,000 unique visits per quarter. Take that, world o’ print!
We’re not the type to rest on laurels. There is room for improvement and that depends on even more fine poets joining the enterprise by entrusting their best work to our ambitious and “supremely rereadable” electronic journal.
We welcome C. E. Chaffin, founder of Logopoetry and former editor of The Melic Review, to our staff. Through publishing his work and by correspondence, C. E. and I found a rare meeting of the minds. He fits seamlessly into our team, joining the indispensable Rachel Dacus as a second Contributing Editor, Poetry.
Incidentally, C. E. has a new hardback due out in February 2009 entitled Unexpected Light, his first book in over ten years. After reading the pre-production proofs, I told him it was worthy of a Pulitzer.
Carol A. Taylor steps down as Contributing Editor, Light Verse and we thank her for her fine work behind the scenes at Bumbershoot, our light-verse ’zine-within-a-’zine. Now that Bumbershoot is an annual rather than a quarterly, a dedicated light verse editor is no longer needed; we will bring in occasional guest editors instead. Bumbershoot publishes again in the summer of 2009 and we will begin reading for it in earnest on March 1st.
Here, in alphabethical order, are our marvelous nominees for this year’s Pushcart Prize:
Early ecstasies in the presence of the written word are contrasted with the weary adult writer’s more prosaic encounters with it. A wealth of experience and ideas are packed into this tightly constructed poem which uses Berryman’s long laboring over Shakespeare’s texts as an emblem for a certain loss of innocence concerning language itself.
This image-rich poem describes the forboding before a ferocious electrical storm and the bone-deep fright it instills as it hits. The date, August 7, has historical resonance: atom bombs were dropped in Japan on August 6 and 8. The storm victims here are panicked by a similar flash of light and with their howling dog take to bed in a spirit of total surrender.
For this issue, Umbrella put out a call for poems on the subject of popular culture, poems that would divine “the depths beneath the shallows.” Igloria’s poem achieves that perfectly. Even if a reader hasn’t watched the TV show in question (and this editor had not), the descriptions are so vivid, and the sense of amazement so permeating, that not only is the show brought to life but also its weird undercurrents: the broken taboos, the revulsions, the besting, the contesting. The poem is downright mythic.
Laments, tirades and manifestos have been written about religious intolerance but finally someone has sung a swingy song. The tone here is one of gently ribbing wit, the persona is a wise fool, the poem is delightful is its every syllable and caesura.
Gadzooks and rapture! Here is a deeply imaginative poem about a child whose parents believe he eschews the laws of physics but who actually embodies those of quantum physics: he shapeshifts, teleports and plays with black holes. It’s a wondrous-strange scenario, brilliantly rendered.
As loyal readers of Umbrella know, we favor poems that exhibit an “umbrella idea,” an overarching concept best realized when a poem combines sharp focus with good craft and form meshes seamlessly with function. James Toupin’s “A Defense of Solitaire” is a prime example. The poem brings the experience of playing solitaire into the metaphysical realm, and does so with accomplishment and wit. Even the poem’s boxy structure of tight tercets mimics the tidy rows created in the game of solitaire. I could read this poem a hundred times and never tire of it.
Choosing these poems made for decision making of the hair pulling kind but I am very pleased indeed with the final roster. Send complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Submissions
A Spring 2009 “Umbrella Extra” is planned. In addition to reading works of a general nature, our theme will be “weird scenarios,” poems of deep imagination that work around strange premises. We’ve already published poems that meet this standard, e.g., Doug Ramspeck’s, noted above. I once wrote a poem called “When the Elephants Took Me for Their Pet.” So that is the general idea!—send us the wondrous-strange. Deadline: February 15, 2009.
This Issue’s Art
This edition welcomes the art of pablo vision, who occasionally updates his website with feckless meanderings, inanity, links to recently published work, information about stuff in print, audio, art, reviews, and films. The images featured this month are manipulated photos of his own dining room.