Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Roetzheim, William H., _Thoughts I Left Behind_. Jamul, CA : Level 4 Press.
179 Pages. Softcover, Perfect Bound. $14.95 US plus shipping. For
ordering information visit www.level4press.com.

Review of _Thoughts I Left Behind

Fertility Doll

Returning home I brought my wife some gifts,
among them was a carved figure—an ugly
woman with huge breasts and bigger belly.
Hawaiians said her name was Hi’iaka.
She stood beside our bed and watched, her eyes
reflecting red in candlelight, her shadow
dancing with obscene and naked joy
to hear Bolero by Ravel, to hear
the primitive music of need and want.
And in one month my wife told me that she
was pregnant after trying for so long.
We loaned her out to Loni, who was pregnant
that same month. And then the breathless call
when Hi’iaka had the same results
for Betty Lou, after four years of trying,
crying, clinics too. but now my laughing
wasn’t easy, now I found that I
was queasy when I thought of Hi’iaka’s
naked dancing, watching with those eyes
that seemed to glow.
I know, I know she’s just
a doll and not a god, not like my god,
the western god that toppled her and all
her kind two hundred years ago, although
she dances on our wall, her shadow leaps
and falls, and quietly she plants her seeds
of pagan thought, of faith in ancient gods.

Those of you who have followed my reviews by now have most likely learned
that I’m a relatively hard critic. Were I to put a book of my own out into
this shark pit, I’d probably be the last person I would want to write on it.

Another thing that may or may not have been evident in reviews that I have
formerly written is that I seem to have developed somewhat of an abhorrence
toward metered or formal poetry. It often doesn’t have so much to do with
the pieces themselves as it does with having so many momentarily inspired
pieces cross my desk by students who have just been reading Wordsworth’s “I
Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” In three separate classes I have assisted, I
have heard no less that five would-be poets exclaim “I think in rhyme! It
just comes naturally to me.”

So when I open Roetzheim’s _Thoughts I Left Behind_, my initial response is
one of horror. All those old memories of workshop failures come to life,
and a teeny, meter-loving tapeworm starts doubling me over. If I’m to bide
my time reading formal, metric poetry, it had better be damn good.

This book is. Very good in fact.

Roetzheim’s critics have praised the poetry of _Thoughts I Left Behind_ for
its honesty (Gene Auprey), its personal nature (Stephen Scaer), and its
humor (Jackleen Holton), amongst other things. What takes me by surprise
mostly is that in Roetzheim the reader finds perhaps one of the few poets
who has ever picked up a pen and been able to write in form without sounding
trite or forcing rhymes. Where other poets have modified the sonnet form
and called it the “New Sonnet,” and pretty much classified any 14 line poem
as such, Roetzheim is able not only to maintain original Petrarchian form,
but also to do so without making the reader hear somewhere in her head “duh
DAH duh DAH duh DAH duh DAH duh DAH.” It’s subtle, it’s iambic, and in the
few moments where the toughest of critics could go so far as to call it
forced, the emotion and timing is so poignantly accurate, so aptly placed,
that it takes more nitpicking than this reviewer is capable of to point it
out, or let it detract from the poem.

Another thing that greatly impresses me with this book is that Roetzheim
remembers that poetry does not always have to be sullen and serious. There
are two sections of the book titled “Responses to the Dead” that portray the
poet’s reactions to several of those archaic, beastly poems that got us all
writing terrible poetry in high school. Such poems as Rossetti’s “When I am
Dead, My Dearest,” Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty,” and Donne’s “Death be not
Proud” are critiqued and parodied in such accurate and cynical wit that I
found myself quoting them to friends the next day at work. In a response to
Hardy’s “A Broken Appointment,” which is a melancholy piece about the
speaker’s lament that his date never showed up, Roetzheim borrows the meter
and writes:

I mean, I like this piece, its poignant mood,
And poetry to get revenge is cool,
But nowadays we say, “Get past it, dude!”
And real friends tell you when you are a fool, [lines 3 – 6]
I am there with the speaker of this poem. I have my tongue in my cheek
along with him. Moreover, I was thinking the same thing when I read Hardy’s
poem in the first place.

The first notes I took as I began to read this book and prepare for review
read as follows: “Unless you are a lover or meter, specifically iambic, and
are not opposed or put off by rhyming poetry, this book is not the book for
you.” Now having completed reading the book a second time, beginning
through it a third, emailing fragments of the material herein to friends,
jotting down stanzas on the back of notebooks, I can say this: If you buy
one book of poetry this year, make it this one. Tired of being beaten over
the head with Hallmark rhyme? Here’s a book that proves that there is at
least one poet left who can still write in meter without making you feel
like someone’s banging a cast iron pot near your head. But regardless of
your stance on metered poetry, herein lay fine poems of content, emotion,
and universality. The shear grace with which Roetzheim writes proves that
he is a master at this craft. _Thoughts I Left Behind_ is a journey that
you won’t want to miss.

Dave Anderson
Ibbetson Press Update /Somerville, Mass.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Wilderness House Literary Review # 1/1
145 Foster Street
Littleton MA 01460

The Wilderness House Literary Review is a publication devoted to excellence in literature and the arts.

The WHLReview is published online quarterly with a best of annual print edition.

Deadlines are as follows
March 1 - Spring
June 1 - Summer
September 1 - Autumn
December 1 - Winter

The annual edition will be published in May.

Editor & Publisher
Steve Glines

Poetry Editor
Irene Koronas

Fiction Editor
Julia Carlson

Nonfiction Editor
Steve Glines

Book Reviews Editor
Doug Holder

Arts Editor
Steve Glines

Poet in Residence
Tomas O'Leary

The Wilderness House Literary Review
is the result of the cooperation of the
Bagel Bards,
and the
Wilderness House Literary Retreat.


Poetry may be submitted in any form.

Short fiction may be submitted in three formats:

1. very short stories less than 500 words in length
2. short stories less than 1000 words in length
3. Short stories that don't fit the above should be less than 5000 words.

Non-Fiction is just that so lets see some interesting footnotes.

Book Reviews should be positive unless the author is a well-known blowhard. Our mission is to encourage literature not discourage it.

Non-fiction should be short, (a lot) less than 5000 words.

Any form of art may be submitted with the constraint that it must be something that can be published in 2 dimensions. It's hard to publish sculpture but illustrations together with some intelligent prose count.

Published works are welcome with proper attribution.

Please submit all works electronically.
Welcome to the first edition of the Wilderness House Literary Review. WHLR is a result of the collaboration between a group of poets and writers who call themselves the Bagel Bards and the Wilderness House Literary Retreat, itself a cooperative effort between the Rotary Club of Littleton Massachusetts and the New England Forestry Foundation. All of the stories, articles, poems and examples of art have been presented as PDF files, Portable Document Format. This is a format that allows for a much cleaner presentation than would otherwise be available on the web. If you don't have an Adobe Reader (used to read a PDF file) on your computer you can download one from the Adobe website. The files are large and we hope you will be patient when downloading but we think the beauty of the words deserver a beautiful presentation. Enough housekeeping.
It's always a pleasure to present a new collection of art and literature. When we started to assemble this issue none of us expected the volume of submissions. It was a pleasure making this selection. Since this is our spring issue and we are hungry for sunshine after the drab confines of winter we begin with a poem by Tomas O'Leary, our poet in residence, titled 'Sermon on Sun Worship.' We hope that warmed you up.
When you get to a certain age many of us discover that we are living in an age of regrets, not for what we have done but for what we left undone. How many of us wish we could go back and tell our first love what they still mean to us. Charles Campbell tells us in two essays about the first two meaningful relationships of his adult life. He's asked us to post his biography lest some think he is stuck in the past.
Charles Campbell is a man who reached 60 years of life managing to accomplish nothing of note but a happy marriage of 34 years, so considers himself an extremely successful man. He has not written anything except a check for most of those decades. He currently resides in Georgia.. "If Lou Gehrig is the luckiest man on the face of the earth, he must feel my hot breath on the back of his neck."
We start with 'Red Sky at Night' followed by 'Red Sky in the Morning.' We secretly hope he finds a very wide audience.
On the literati of Philadelphia
Meeting at the Pass by Afaa Michael Weaver
Mathematical musings by Irene Koronas
Ellipse and Parabola
Zero begins end
Friends, family and reform school by John Hildebidle
Strict Objectivity
A New Relationship
The Class Struggle
Winter musings
Urban Orchard by Steve Glines
October Run in Danehy Park
By Sarah Merrow
28th Century Milky Way Conference on Hieroglyph Philology. Paper 27-09:
By Edward Abrahamson
Over life (about my dead aunt)
By Irene Koronas
By Doug Holder
Modern life is fast. None of us have the time to .... fill in the blank here. Where once the literary inclined might have written a serialized Victorian novel now we find the poet and chapbook. This is not your grandmother's poetry, the standard measures of poetry, meter and verse, still exist and are thrilling to hear when well executed but most modern poetry is what the classic academics might condescendingly call experimental. Filled with blank verse and prose, poetry is illustrative, gestalt filled, post-post modern expressions of short fiction, short essay, short .... It is Picasso to Rembrandt, e. e. cummings to Shakespeare. How often have you read a short work and exclaimed metaphorically, "Wow that's poetry." Today it is poetry. America is experiencing a vibrant literary renaissance. We offer a sampling of it here.
A D Winans
Afaa M Weaver
Alan Catlin
Barbara Bialick
Bill Costley
Carolyn Gregory
Chad Parenteau
Clara Diebold
Deborah Priestly
Diana Der-Hovanessian
Doug Worth
Ellaraine Lockie
Eric Greinke
Francis Lemoine
Harris Gardner
Howard Lee Kilby
Hugh Fox
Jennifer Matthews
Joanne Vyce
John Hildebidle
John Mercui Dooley
Julia Carlson
Kelley J White
Kevin McLellan
Lainie Senechal
Lo Galluccio
Marc D Goldfiner
Matthew Silver Rosenthal
Molly Lynn Watt
Pat Brodie
Patrick Carrington
Philip E Burnham
Richard Wilhelm
Robert K Johnson
Sarah Merrow
Stephen Morse
Taylor Graham
Tomas OLeary
Visual Art
We take pleasure putting our logo on top of interesting works of art. For our arts section we have chosen to place out logo on top of an exceptional work of art by Jenny Lawson Grassl. A version of the original art may be found here.

The masthead (at the top of this page) is our logo placed on a work by Irene Koronas who is also a writer and out poetry editor. If out masthead was a teaser here is a further sampling of Irene's work.
For some reason many poets are also visual artists and Deborah Priestly is one of them. Her poem 'tree of cats' may be found above in the poetry section. We thought it fitting to show off a sampling of her art with a painting of a cat.
We know we said no 3D art but photograph of this sculpture by architect William Turvelle somehow fit.
That is it for out Spring 2006 edition. The deadline for out Summer edition is June 1. No doubt there are errors and omissions. Please bring these to our attention.
As we said when we started this is a joint production of Wilderness House Literary Retreat and the 'bagel bards'. The 'Bagel Bards' have just published their first (and we hope of many) anthology. You may purchase it here:

A new and exciting travelog:

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