Volume 105, Number 1/2
|In the camps…I had the opportunity to study the human race from cradle to the grave, and to see what happens to people when reduced to one status and one condition. —Miné Okubo
Our cover photo shows Japanese-Americans, most of them long-time citizens, heading to internment camps in 1942. There’s dignity and sonnet beauty in the way the men and women have arrayed themselves beside the trains. Their luggage is strangely missing: a caesura within the image of dislocation. How many writers are in the picture? Who will remember? Who will want to forget?
And how did this happen in a nation like ours—a nation of immigrants, still struggling to find a common song? In the wake of Pearl Harbor, the confusion of war, Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, calling for the relocation and detention of some 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent, all in the name of national security. This mistake and the many others of our fledgling democracy are, at least, open to scrutiny. Sooner or later, we acknowledge and confront them. Sooner or later, we strive to get it right. Meanwhile, we mourn those faces that from time to time are banished out of fear—and every voice held back by it.
Holly Karapetkova writes in “Art Lesson” (page 64): “Even war begins on paper, a long-named resolution / blocking up the desks of dignitaries // before it empties its bullets and flutters off….” War starts on the page and so does the poetry that exposes its gravity. In Stephen Lackaye’s “Early Lessons” (page 22), a veteran describes being taught at age 19 how “to cup a man’s chin in the palm on my hand; / …how to force the head up and back to the point / where the spine becomes its own fulcrum / levering the brainstem free.”
Poetry, like conscience, survives war’s upheavals and seeks to leave an enduring record. Captivity, both literal and figurative, is a reference point in many of the poems in this new issue. Martin Lammon makes clear in “Bird Offering” (page 45) that it’s often difficult to confess our actions, especially to those who trust us most. And Kate Angus—whom contributing editor David Lehman presents in our “Poets Introducing Poets” feature claims in “String Theory” that: “We all forget / to forget certain names: bodies we interred // in their little boxes; cities bombed to fragments, desolate / with weeds. The rubble rises up, every structure // rebuilds.”
Rebuilding has always been part of poetry’s promise.
Poems by Ladan Osman, Doug Ramspeck, Faisal Siddiqui, Martin Lammon, Holly Karapetkova, and others.
Poets Introducing Poets
A collection of poems by Kate Angus, as introduced by David Lehman.
“Writing About Writing” by Linda Pastan
67 Mogul Miniatures by Raza Ali Hasan
Habeas Corpus by Jill McDonough
Spare Parts by Anne Harding Woodworth
Temper by Beth Bachmann
The Royal Baker’s Daughter by Barbara Goldberg