So many of the poems in this issue were excellent in either storytelling or wordplay, and so many excelled in both, that I hardly know where to begin in letting you know what I like. Where to start?
JoSelle Vanderhooft's two pieces were, as hers always seem to be, strong. I very much liked "The Explorer's Daughter," but it was "Death Enters a Mother's Service" that had me crouched in front of the monitor scrolling up and down and up again to read and reread. Elements there of Walter de la Mare and Rosetti, strong images and rhythms, heartbreak and beauty. Lovely work.
Robert Borski's "The Bashful Young Swain at the Ogre's Cotillion" made me raise my eyebrows and laugh aloud with pleasure.
Sophanny Marin's "The Choke-Damp"...ah, what a poem. This is definitely one of my favorites, and I need to find a way to let her know. I think that by which I am most struck in this poem is her adeptness in bringing the world of faerie and the modern world into such graceful, frightening and heartbreaking juxtaposition. Well done.
Maureen McQuerry's "Selkie" is a study in wonderful line breaks (always tricky and potentially awkward!) and language that sings in both sound and sense. McQuerry is someone whose work I will be watching in the future. If all her poems are as well crafted as "Selkie" and "Chesire" (another poem I loved in this issue), I can't wait to read her books.
Jennifer Crow's "Twelve Swans" also was exquisite and exceptionally wonderful technically as well as lyrically and narratively. She has a skill in poetic construction that shines as she spins the familiar tale of the twelve swan brothers into a new poetic form with each section. Brava!
And finally, I couldn't comment on Goblin Fruit's Winter 08 issue without mentioning "Revisiting the Maiden's Tower" by Stacy Cowley, a piece that gave--and continues to give--me chills, with its images both beautiful and horrific.
These were probably my favorite pieces, but the other poems were wonderful as well and deserve a read, especially by anyone with an appreciation for mythopoetic literature. Old fairy tales spun in new directions, silk kimonos, ravens, seals, cherries and snow and a saint... It is easy to become lost here. Tie a string to your wrist as you enter, to be sure of finding your way back out.