A Tribute to Love and Loss at Salamander Cove

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"Inconsolable Grief" by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi

The September issue of Salamander Cove focuses on love and loss. I am honored to have my poem, “To Friends Not Knowing What to Say” — which first appeared in Iota 85 — take its place alongside spare and stunning tributes by Chris Agee, Anna Ross, Dave Jarecki, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Jim Murdoch, Jamie Dedes, and Charles Bernstein. I found the juxtaposition of these pieces deeply moving, and applaud the editor for focusing her selection “not on the fact of death but on the depth of the sense of loss of certain special beings, or almost-beings, who are no longer with us.”

Longer poems are interspersed with short pieces from Chris Agee’s “Heartscapes” series, featured in his remarkable collection Next to Nothing. The effect is like that of Haibun, a form perfected by Bashō that juxtaposes a prose piece with a haiku, enhancing the reader’s attention to both the longer and shorter piece through the interleaving of the two forms. Here, too, I found myself pausing to find my breath as I made my way through this series of poems.

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Next to Nothing by Chris Agee

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In his most recent collection, Next to Nothing, Chris Agee fuses voracious verbal intelligence with well-tuned musicality. But this is not why I am compelled to re-read this book. Written in the years following the death of his four-year-old daughter, Agee’s elegies ring with veracity, transcending reportage of paternal grief even as it details, in quiet and careful ways, sentiments and sensibilities I know from my own experience of loss to be true beyond true beyond achingly true.

One poem in particular, from the “Heartscapes” series, stopped me on the page:

Your Face

swims
in the window
where I wave
at the childminder’s
new child

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