A few years ago, I was teaching a middle school writing elective at a well-regarded summer camp for the arts. The students in this class were not primarily interested in writing: they were there as young musicians, or dancers, or studying “general arts” which usually meant their well-off parents thought it more edifying for them to draw with charcoal and write poems and create spliced-together musical theater out of the latest pop songs than to let them spend the summer watching TV and lighting matches in the backyard.
Indeed, in light of economic downturns leading to greater divides between the privileged and working classes, Levine’s poetry only seems to increase in relevancy. Never has there been more urgency for, as Edward Hirsch noted in his essay “Naming the Lost: The Poetry of Philip Levine,” poetry that reflects “the stubborn will of the dispossessed to dig in and endure.”
I live near a freeway overpass, and can hear the cars rushing under if I am quiet. They sound like wind trapped in a dream-corridor, softly insistent. The sound of the cars reminds me of taking road trips further into the Midwest: Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota. In her poem “Giant Fiberglass Cow,” Mary Quade addresses a roadside statue I might have seen while traveling.
by Hanae Jonas
The idea of a “gloomarium” could not be more perfect to describe Wunderkammer. It evokes a sense of darkness as something to be collected, archived, catalogued. Each poem is itself a little wunderkammer, a strange miniature, of this inevitable doom.