Wednesday, June 14, 2006

zafusy and other matters

What is it about spring 2006? Several new online litmags edited by women poets have launched spectacularly recently. One of my favorites has a name that just sounds like fun: zafusy. It grabbed me right away by featuring one of my favorite poems from one of my favorite poets on the front page: Amy Clampitt's luscious Marine Surface, Low Overcast. Clampitt has to be one of the only poets besides Walt Whitman who can make of excessive modifiers a zesty art form. Where some other poet trying such a poem would come off as simply over-laden, Clampitt's spin on ... well, just on fog ... is stupendous. So I liked zafusy immediately -- and then I noticed they bill themselves as "experimental." Oh no! I can't submit to an experimental magazine. But then I remembered that one reviewer compared me to Alice Fulton. I had to look up her work and, guess what, she's experimental! But in the most appealingly un-experimental -- that is to say, I could actually understand her poems -- way.

Who cares about labels? And that's one of the things I think the Internet poetry community is able to do well: soften the sharp boundaries between this label and that one. There's too much happening too fast, it's all so fluid, even publishing, that making bins and rules seems unlikely to stick for long.

More on new discoveries soon.


  1. the bins are in a fog of has-bins
    the pins in a bog of coulda-bins
    if the lads were laden with Laden-bins
    or baden-bins   what woulda bins?

    About Alice Fulton: one eveing (a deacde or so ago), Phil Phillips marched off to the Library of Congress -- to a poetry reading I was unable to catch. He came back enthusiasing about Alice Fulton (who'd read from her volume, Powers of Congress). That's about my only (indirect) impression of Fulton, but a happy one.

    Arguably, [essentially] all poets are experimental; -- some overtly, some covertly. ;-)

    I await your take on the new poet laureate (at some point). And perhaps in autumn I'll be able to file a report from this side.


  2. Clever verse, love the laden rhymes. Alice Fulton is an interesting "difficult" poet. Meaning she twists syntax and word choice in thought-provoking ways. I have her book Sensual Math, which title I think describes her work well.

    As to Donald Hall, my only impression of him so far has been, to quote Kay Ryan, one of "blandeur." But I heard him read on NPR and felt I might find something more eventually, if I read his work more.

    For Poet Laureate the more important question is what does he plan to do about poetry and its lamentable invisibility in this country? I don't care how he writes if he can make it appear again -- rabbit from hat!


  3. One of Donald Hall's first thoughts (according to one news report) was to develop a poetry radio channel -- or something along those lines . . .

    time will tell!

  4. I love someone who can think big. A poetry radio channel would be a fabulous contribution, probably the best any Poet Laureate could achieve. I hope he gets the needed support. Of course, we have a few isolated radio shows devoted to the art -- KPFA has Jack Foley's weekly program and the San Jose Public Radio affiliate has Dancing Bear's show -- probably a few others on the East and West coasts -- but all in all there's probably more media time devoted to crushing beer cans on your forehead than to poetry. So if Hall can make a dent in that kind of media invisibility with a nationally syndicated poetry show, it will be impressive!


  5. Rachel,

    your turn of phrase is so amusing here, I'm afraid verse gets the better of me (or vice-versa)....

    Crushing beercans on your head
      can make a lad grow numb
    taking poetry to bed
      is neither deaf nor dumb
    is there a Donald in the hall?
      his long-wave radio
    may shortly paint the township red
      to tune of fife & drum

    one hopes so,

    [to paint the town red may technically denote more beercan activity; alas, some things are easier said than said]

  6. David,

    I must sincerely return the compliment. A charming beercan-crushed-on-head poem! You're at your extempo best here. I must bow to your skill (or today, it would be Bhau to your skill).


  7. Anonymous9:38 AM

    I hate to be pedantic but I know the editor of zafusy and despite his name, he is male - and I think the site was started in 2004.