It feels strange to introduce the work of two poets who are, if not equally as well known as me, are more likely better known. And if not, then these two poets should be. I first was introduced to the work of Joanie Mackowski by another poet, Natasha Saje, who was raving about Mackowski's first book, The Zoo. Not only did I rush out to buy that book, but I rushed out to buy—on an e-reader, no less!—her second collection, View from a Temporary Window, and I have used both books since as a source of learning and inspiration for my own work. Joanie Mackowski is one of those rare poets whose language walks the fine line between observation and surreal speculation. Her ability both to recreate the world we know and reinvent strange new ones makes her a writer who straddles an unusual divide in contemporary poetry: in a single poem, she can make a woman morph into her car, or she can depict—with beautiful precision—the otherworld appearance of the Hummingbird Clearwing. I adore her poems, as I adore too the work of Robyn Schiff, likely because Schiff is Marianne Moore's most obvious contemporary heir and because Schiff, like me, comes with a background in Medieval Studies, which I suspect provided her with her particular fascination with interdisciplinary research, and likely with that exquisite attention she is able to pay to historical detail. Like Moore (also a poet I adore), Schiff is able to collage a stunning number and array of texts into a poem, moving between so many different emotional registers and types of language that no single poem ends even remotely close to where it begins. Many of her poems leave me, literally, breathless after reading. When I thought for one panicky month that I had lost her first book, Worth, I went out and bought another copy immediately. That's how much I love her work. I now have her second wonderful collection, Revolver, sitting beside my two copies of Worth, all three of which I return to frequently, as frequently as I return to Joanie Mackowski's work, whenever I feel the need and urge for wonder. It is an honor to share some of their newest work with you here.

—Paisley Rekdal

 

 


Paisley Rekdal is the author of the poetry collections A Crash of Rhinos (2000), Six Girls Without Pants (2002), and The Invention of the Kaleidoscope (2007) as well as the book of essays The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee: Observations on Not Fitting In (2000). Rekdal has been honored with a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, and a Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea. Her work has been included in numerous anthologies, including Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (2006) and the 2010 Pushcart Prize Anthology. Rekdal teaches at the University of Utah. 

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