Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Headlight anthology #12

Poem for a Frozen February

Out here the earth is warm, where I left it:
in the shed, behind the charcoal stove,

its Save-On sac pliable in the cold comfort.
I remember when we bought the soil, that lump

of silt and clay in our grocery cart, you mugging with hulled-out
cornsilk for hair, me reflective in the vegetable section. Carrots

brought out the natural tint in your cotton shirt. You said “Let’s
make a family,” and pointed to a nearby stroller, which turned out

to be childless. Its contents: potatoes. You didn’t notice.
I said nothing; disappeared down the juice aisle. Tried to

match the ambiguous, flawed experience with labels: “dark
blend”, “100% real”, “concentrated value”. I am reminded of the

colours on those labels now: crimson, brown. Like this earth
that will not freeze, my artless hand kindling in its belly. (Wanda O’Connor)

How much have I already said about the Concordia University’s English Department student annual, headlight anthology, that I haven’t already? Once the best of what was to come, as a whole, this twelfth volume of the series just doesn’t strike the way some of the previous have. Still, there are moments in the poems of Gillian Sze (who reads in Ottawa as part of the pre-ottawa small press book fair reading on June 19th at the Carleton Tavern with a first trade collection) that intrigue, and there are some highlights, including former Ottawa resident Wanda O’Connor and Montreal poet Ilona Martonfi, current organizer of the infamous Yellow Door series, as well as introductory pieces by poets Erin Mouré and Robyn Sarah. But compared to previous issues, can we call this enough? I’m amazed at the unusually-large percentage of poems that don’t quite make it, overloaded in second and first person, overloaded by poems that never make it beyond the immediate of that lyrical “I,” never making it more. These exceptions don’t make for the whole, and the production of a curled cover on thinner stock and the occasional glaring typo doesn’t help, either. headlight, why have you forsaken me?

Urban Feral Pigeons

This morning I stole a nest
scooped it up:

gravel-grey balcony ledge
twigs, stems, pine needles

two small white eggs

later I saw mother hen
watching from the railing

red-orange eyes

mottled charcoal feathers

I threw the eggs
into the garbage can

straw, string, dried leaves

hen cocked its grey head
just watching:

red-orange eyes (Ilona Martonfi)


gillian sze said...

oh yikes. i didn't see the headlight anthology yet.
eager to now.

Anonymous said...

hey there. just checked out the anthology. i disagree with your post. martonfi's poem was nothing special. the title is awkward and the poem feels contrived. i think your picks are all popular choices/names around town. but i wouldn't say noteworthy. this anthology has a lot of new names for me. i have bought the last 4 copies and rank Mike Mowbry+Erin Daley+Bassam Chiblak& a few others in the more interesting poems category. i think some of these people have some potential. i'm glad to see that someone else reads this anthology though. i was looking for their official website and fell on your blog instead. thanks for letting me post. keep up the good work.