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January 15, 2009

Burlington Poetry Journal

Unless you're a poet or a hardcore poetry geek, it's kind of hard to decide to sit down and read poetry, because it seems so removed from everyday language. But when you do, you usually find something cool — a turn of phrase you won't forget, a snappy refrain, or just a clever way of using the space on the page.

Take a nifty poem called "1040" that appears in the Autumn 2008 issue of a low-tech local print pub called The Burlington Poetry Journal. It's by Jeff Bernstein, and it describes a guy going through old receipts while doing his taxes and finding a record of a dinner with a woman he'd forgotten:

how could a single line of black type recall
that summer night,
heading toward the solstice?
it was still light when they left at 9 o'clock

as they drove north,
the diminishing day
on the hayfields along route 106
seemed to glow.

Maybe it's just because of the darkness and subzero temps we're having, but this poem struck nostalgic chords with me. I've never seen the BPJ before, though their blog says it's available free at local cafes like Muddy Waters. My coworker picked up a copy in Montpelier.

While the exterior isn't flashy — the journal's a black-and-white photocopy deal — I found a bunch more good stuff inside. I especially liked Caylin Capra-Thomas' deceptively simple verse, Raymond Hudson's "Word Games" and Jesse Breite's "definition poems" and neologisms. No Hallmark-type verse or tone-deaf stuff to be found. In short, the editors seem to know what they're doing.

The deadline for the next issue is.... today, January 15. But of course, there'll be more. You can submit by email. And look out for the BPJ when you're grabbing a latte...

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