Issue 23 of The Seventh Quarry had an Indian flavour. It featured interviews with not one but two renowned Indian poets: Hassanal Abdullah (by the Editor Peter Thabit Jones) and with Dr. H.K. Kaul, by Mandira Ghosh. Both poets earned my admiration with their lofty goals and their understanding of the role of poetry in modern society.
Both amaze with the scope of their work. Hassanal Abdullah wrote 29 books, among which is a 304-page epic about relations between people and the Universe. Dr. H.K. Kaul is the President of the Poetry Society (India) and his 200-page long poem Firdaus in Flames deals with political and social upheavals in India’s recent history.
One cannot help but be amazed by these two poets, who confess in their respective interviews that it is the highest aspirations of human spirit that are worthy writing about and that poetry can and should change society for the better. This, at the time when most English language poets normally reach as high as the attic, for a box marked “Grandmother”, in order to commit to poetry an old glove.
I was taken by the unassuming elegance and light-hearted wisdom of a three-line poem “Intimations of Immortality on the Beach” by Ellen Pickus. It captures perfectly the moment of surprise and delight you feel when you see something you thought was inanimate nature move on its own accord.
“Looking in to… the space” by Jonathan Beale had a line that made me wonder about composition of a poem. It read: “Two people. Genders unimportant.” The line actually made to start imagining these people and precisely in relation to their gender. So I concluded that perhaps when you want your reader to think about something, state in your poem that this something is unimportant.
Italy’s Domenico Iannaco‘s series of poems explores cohabitation within one person of a number of cultures and collaboration of different languages within one poet. Iannaco is exploring the roles what exactly countries and languages can mean to the person in which they all live. “How can I call you stranger//If we quarrel in the same language,” – quite rightly he notes.
Scott Thomas Outlar from America made my heart sing with his poem “Weighing it out”. It deals with the heart, to be precise, with its weighing after its possessor’s death, according to the Egyptian mythology. It is good to know that Ancient Egypt still lives.
My favourite poem from the whole magazine was “Kerouac Heart” by Mark Elias from Wales. It is a rhymed poem written in quatrains. Furthermore, alternate stanzas have “his” at the beginning of each line, and “my” opening each line. All that together creates dynamics and tension, which whizzes the reader through the poem. At the end of it, I would not be able to say exactly who “he” and “I” or relationship between them was. Nevertheless, I loved the roller-coaster.
America’s Stanley H. Barkan contributed “The Waitress at the International Delight Cafe 1”, full of ironic descriptive lists. I loved the line “The International Delight Cafe offers everything” followed by a long list of Americanised world dishes of the lowest common denominator. Menu items like chili and cappuccino are recognised by people around the world, thus making us partake of a global faceless culture, which, nonetheless, gives us a sense of belonging.
“Patriots and Apostates” by Craig Kurtz from America is long. Surprisingly, I could not put it down. It grabbed me with its uncompromising language and anti-capitalist stance. It is not often that Western poetry engages in critique of earth-destroying and soul-destroying practices of the Global North.
I liked “A dream of dark wings” by Monica Corish from Ireland for life truth that I recognised in it: that is, the healing power of even the darkest dreams. It ends with “Whoever it is, however it is: when I wake,//my week-long hammering headache is gone.”
Ian Griffiths from Wales crafted his “Siren Song” so that it appears on a page like one swelling wave surrounded by smaller wave crests.
England’s Ali Pardoe wrote “the kitchen//where potatoes gently knock the side of the pan”, which makes me, a potato aficionado, immediately get the sense of “Homecoming,” the title of the poem.