Poetry News

Reviews of 6x6, Issue #26, Are in for a Party

By Harriet Staff

A journal review is a rare and gemlike occurrence. Did you know an occurrence could be gemlike? So it's keepers for 6x6 #26 over at NewPages and rob mclennan's blog (they both wrote about this issue!). First off, Lesley Dame writes in general:

When you pick up the most recent issue of 6X6, titled “Enough About Pigs,” you know you’re in for a party. The journal is slim and funky, its bubble-gum pink cover accented with red letters and held together by a nifty red rubber-band for the binding. This poetry magazine, published by Ugly Duckling Presse, is a chapbook like no other, displaying the innovative work of six poets.

All six poets, while unique, tend to follow along these lines: strange images, interesting contemplation, devil-may-care attitude, gritty honesty, and a sprinkling of angst. You’ll have to decide for yourself if this is an aesthetic you find enjoyable. If anything, whether good or bad, I find the poems deliciously intriguing. I also like short, manageable poems in equally short, manageable magazines. I’m a toddler mom. I have little time to spare.

And specifically:

Dot Devota’s poems are more serious than Muhs’s, with longer lines and almost no punctuation, which gives them a heavy, frantic feel. Devota’s rambling collection of images, like “the scab in the back of my throat / what used to be a blooming torso / pacing between elephant tusks / and the memory gravity leeches,” play a constant reel of anxiety through your mind as you read. You feel like you’re climbing to the top of a roller-coaster, only the cart goes faster and faster as you climb, and the descent ends abruptly, flinging you from your seat with fabulously haunting lines like, “the scene is of my massacres.”

Alongside Dot are poetry compatriots Steve Muh, Martha Ronk, William Minor, Levi Rubeck, and Abraham Adams. Dame writes of these last two:

Every one of Levi Rubeck’s poems is titled with a series of X’s. I’m not sure if this means they are untitled, or indeed, titled “XXX XXX...” in varying degrees of X’s. No matter. Like Minor, Rubeck makes interesting declarations, like “Replace your scientists and we can / prevent the holidays.” Like Devota, Rubeck compiles odd, interesting images: “More affection from this gorgeous, / friend, she picked the catnip / of competition because synthesized human // pheromones reject cheap / imitations. A siren nests in the / inhuman Santa Monica winter.” Like all the others, Rubeck is working through some big issues. In this particular poem (18 X’s), I think it has something to do with religion.

By the time I get to the last poet in the magazine, I am expecting yet another unique poet who also has fascinating images, neat observations, and a dash of personal philosophy. Abraham Adams does not disappoint when he begins, “My own life is strange / commotions in fat.” In truth, he had me at “commotions of fat.” Still, I read on. What comes next is the strangest of all: “cradling their tectonic dowry / on repeat. // Masks in the little ponds, / are you these masks tied to figs // with their blossoming iron?” WHAT? (Draw out the “A” for about five seconds.) I have no idea what this means, but I enjoy it a heck of a lot. After this he says, “Most life is like you, / most airplanes worry,” and I feel comforted. I feel like Adams understands human nature completely regardless of my understanding of his images.

mclennan also appreciates:

As each issue includes roughly six pages of poetry each by six authors, this issue is the first I’ve seen (admittedly, I’ve only seen about four issues) without a single author I’ve previously heard of....After having gone through the issue a couple of times, I have to admit that I’m stuck on the work of William Minor; who is William Minor? His use of repetition is lovely, and his poems evoke a particular kind of rare subtlety that ease into startling places, while leaving plenty of open space in such small containers, spaces that could easily go in a number of directions. I would sure like to see more. His pieces here are reminiscent of some of what I’ve seen from Rae Armantrout, Sarah Mangold and Marilyn Irwin, and suggest far more than they manage to say, and what is said is delivered deceptively straight. Listen to this, the first section of the three-poem “BEIJING,” that reads:

The spectacle of a woman on fire is an ordinary spectacle. Though it takes many flames for a woman to disappear publicly, it only takes one flame for her to disappear psychologically. For some women, standing in a fire acts as a cushion against not standing in a fire. People point this out when pointing to a woman on fire.

More writing about the unknown!