Volume 23 Number 2, 2010
Review by David Morck
After winning a year’s subscription during last year’s National Poetry Day, I discovered the joy of the Crab Creek Review.What had drawn me into past issues was the range of voices, both from experienced writers and fresh, emerging writers. There has always been a certain charm to the pieces selected, whether their tone leans towards the more serious or whimsical, and this issue is no exception.
The biggest standout in the second issue for 2010 is the section entitled Beyond Ekphrasis: Poems of the Musical, Mathematical, and Visual in which Crab Creek Review’s first guest editor Susan Rich pulled from “over fifteen hundred poems submitted by more than four hundred poets from three different continents,” “work inspired by photography, sculpture, music, film and even a mathematical equation.” One of the exceptional pieces inspired by art in this section is a poem called “The Plague Doctor” by Peter Pereira based on a 1656 engraving entitled “Doktor Schabel von Rom” by Paul Fürst. The engraving is included above the poem and lends itself to the poem’s dark and mystical force. The poem begins:
Brow shadowed by a black
wide-brimmed hat, he swings
his wooden cane to part the swarm
of flies crawling your motionless body,
prods you with the cane’s tip
to measure your response.
The word choice in the poem is exquisitely brutal, offering images of “erupting pustules”, “flea-infested straw”, “pungence repelling pungence,” and the pitch-perfect ending leaves an enduring image of:
Its two oval sockets lensed in red glass
as if to warn you—how scavenger birds
always begin with the eyes.
Other poems that are worthy of mention within the section on ekphrasis are “Prelude” by Valerie Nieman, based on a photograph of Rosa Parks getting her fingerprints taken, and a heart-rending look at youth and strength in “Patrick Swayze” by Casey Fuller, highlighting the promise of Hollywood vigor, about the actor, who unfortunately fell victim to cancer last year.