Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Magazine Moment (31): The Seventh Quarry

The Seventh Quarry (against a blue background for contrast)

Issue 15 of The Seventh Quarry poetry magazine contains submissions from most corners of the British Isles in addition to contributions from Italy, Germany, Korea, USA and Guatemala. The magazine is edited by Peter Thabit Jones from Swansea. Wales is represented by eight writers in this issue.

My eye was immediately drawn to 'Gales at Rhossili' by Jean Salkilld, who runs the Swansea Tuesday Poetry group. I can visualise those Gower gales as

White horses break the misted greyness of
the sea circus ...

This issue contains a fascinating interview with Chicano poet and Boston University professor, Tino Villanueva, who came to Swansea in 2010 to read in the Dylan Thomas Birthplace. Tino, author of six books, defines the term Chicano as 'an American of Mexican descent, whether native-born or naturalized citizen.' Villanueva describes Dylan Thomas as the poet whose 'language most seduced' him. However, there are other powerful influences, too. Tino explains that he has spent the last ten years working on a poem sequence revolving around Penelope, the faithful Homeric wife of Odysseus. I sense the significance of  'ten years' as a unit of time since not only did the Trojan War drag on for a decade, but it then took Odysseus a further ten years to return to his island home of Ithaca.

Sultan Catto is the poet in profile in this edition. He is professor of Theoretical Physics at the CUNY Graduate Center and at the Rockefeller University in New York. He writes poetry in Turkish and English. I was intrigued by Sultan's poem, 'Sunday Afternoon' (the more so having just viewed a study for Seurat's Pointillist work, 'Sunday Afternoon at the island of La Grande Jatte' in the New York Met). The poem contains compelling juxtapositions of images - we find 'starfish on sands' alongside 'flights of songs'.

'The Seventh Quarry' is not only international in flavour, representing an ever-expanding global community of poets and artists, but is also refreshingly eclectic in terms of style and form. There are short pithy poems like 'Lost Song in Swansea' by John Edwin Cohen and long ones that flow across the page, such as 'Remembering Fengdu' by Nancy E. Wright. 'Visiting the Lady Chapel at Llandaff in April' by Penelope Duckworth is a modern sonnet and '45 Grave on the Nostalgia Circuit' by Simon Hunt is a rhyming sonnet.

John Brantingham holds the stage for the Grand Finale with his masterful '30 Poets, 1 Violinist, 1 Cameraman in Wales', a tribute poem to Swansea's First International Poetry Festival, which took place last summer. The poem is set in Laugharne, at the Dylan Thomas Boat House, and I am left with the lingering image of a violinist playing his music in Wales under a white umbrella in the rain.

  • Details of The Seventh Quarry (subscriptions, submissions ...) can be found here.

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