Sunday, April 10, 2011


REVIEW OF COURT GREEN 8, Columbia College, English Department, 600 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605, 216 pages, $10, 2011

Review by Barbara Bialick

COURT GREEN 8, (DOSSIER: FRANK O’HARA), is a thick, juicy, glossy new, since 2004, college literary magazine out of Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois. It is ripe and jubilant with good writing by young voices whose work is often universal yet sometimes taken down a notch by the addition of bragging about “weed” or by using coarse words near the end of the poem, which adds an odd twist to the flow. But these are their words and interests, and their apparent ages, give or take a few years. Even the “dossier” topic—react to the poetry of the late poet Frank O’Hara (1926-1966), is about someone who only made it to age 40… This batch of 80 poets plus O’Hara, is new to me, but I suspect many will be making names for themselves, as the old saying comes around again anew.

Given that collegial flare, I don’t find the poems to be what we sometimes call academic.
No Greek gods and goddesses. Actually one of the first poems is quite funny: “My Dog as the Reincarnation of Heath Ledger”, by Steve Henry: “He’s such a great actor. He pretends/to chew on his bone when he really/disembowels my laptop charger/…But really he is Heath./He, too, loves drugs having eaten/my roommate’s weed more than once/…Maybe he’s really Plath, then, or maybe they’re all the same;/some amalgamation of all our desires/to snuff ourself trying to get what we want…”

Here’s a few examples of their intriguing sorts of titles: “Nude Ants”, “Hot Dogs Have Legal Problems” “Death Radiant”, “The Closet is Grieving (After Wallace Stevens)”—
Take that closet one by Julia Guez: “The closet is grieving/all of the trim black suits./None of them are sequined/or mauve with seafoam rings/…a man is not driven to dream of papayas and parakeets/only here and there a beldame (accountant by day) will marry/Quaalude and tequila. Asleep in drag on he sofa…”

There are many tributes to Frank O’Hara. James Schuyler (born in 1923) writes: “Stay up all night? Who wants to sleep?/it is not your voice I hear/it is your words I see/foam flecks and city girders/…” And “Monologue: Frank O’Hara” by Elaine Equi: “Untie your muse/for an hour and stay with me/I come in pieces across a great test pattern/…When will you see me as I am/as industrious with grief as you are?...”

For ten dollars you may or may not find a new market for your poems, but you’ll surely get some good idea of where good poetry is going in the future.

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