Introduction: Fall/Winter 2021

I smiled deeply to myself when reading our amazing feature, Tina Cane, reference John Berryman, the poet who showed me what poetry could be and kindly rescued me from the banality of the poems I’d had to memorize in grammar school. In the second of his Eleven Addresses to the Lord, Berryman writes:

‘I don’t try to reconcile anything,’ said the poet at eighty.
This is a damned strange world.’

That was 1970 and I am now 69. And the world is hardly less strange than it was. Quite the contrary, I’d wager, for most of us.

But what has changed for me is the adverb in Berryman’s line. Strange as it continues to become, I do not see the world as damned strange. And I feel strongly that the poets in this volume feel something akin to this, as well.

Open your mouth
And swallow this torch.
Quit reaching for water,
When it’s fire you need to bathe in.


a blank book begins               
in the sky
my eyes
see something                             
I’m blind to
my tongue climbs
the Himalayas


I may have become
my mother--wearing a soft
plaid blouse she would wear,
my mouth turning its corners into a smile
at small delights


I'm imagining Jesus      moving like the moon     through corn fields     wondering

myself into a thicket    and reflecting on the nature of permission     as I read about    

John Berryman's letter to his landlord      in which he complains about

his screaming Frigidaire    
We all have our fridges to bear    


For me, the world is amazingly strange, heartbreakingly strange, joyously strange, even blessedly strange. And do we try to reconcile anything?

Rather, we make poetry of it.

Welcome to Soul-Lit, Fall/Winter, 2021.