Protesting is one thing when it is done by typing in a rectangular box on a social media platform.
It’s quite another thing when it’s done in person.
If you want to learn more about two poets well-versed the latter approach, you’d be hard pressed to find a better memoir than Mark Pawlak’s My Deniversity. The book recounts Pawlak’s connection to poet Denise Levertov, beginning in the late 1960s when Pawlak, an undergrad at MIT who intended to major in physics, took Levertov’s poetry class. Richard Cambridge, Solstice’s Associate Editor of Reviews & Interviews, spoke to Pawlak about My Deniversity and the experiences behind it—and we’re excited to share the video with you.
We’re excited, as well, about how this batch of Reviews & Interviews cross-pollinates with the rest of our Spring Issue. Conversations with Sam Cha, Quintin Collins, Ali Kinsella, and Dzvinia Orlowsky dovetail with their work in our Poetry section—Quintin’s poems, Ali and Dzvinia’s translations, and Sam’s guest-editing in collaboration with Poetry Editor Robbie Gamble. You’ll also find a conversation here between Robbie and Eileen Cleary, Editor-in-Chief of Lily Poetry Review Books, which recently published Robbie’s chapbook, A Can of Pinto Beans. The chapbook chronicles Robbie’s experiences with No More Deaths, an organization providing support for migrants passing through dangerous stretches of the Sonoran Desert.
Robbie, as anyone who knows him can attest, is a wonderful advocate of others’ art. In this issue, he has written an inspiring review of Made Man, Jendi Reiter’s third poetry collection, and conducted an insightful interview with Solstice Co-Editor-in-Chief Erica Charis-Molling, whose How We Burn will be published in April as part of the Robin Becker Chapbook Series at Seven Kitchens Press.
I also want to give a hearty shout-out to Jennifer Martelli, without whom this edition of Reviews & Interviews would not have been possible. Jennifer’s interview with Ali and Dzvinia is a must-read for anyone who loves poetry, poetry in translation, and how those two timeless topics intersect with current events in Ukraine. Jennifer also penned a review of Kathleen Aguero’s new poetry collection, World Happiness Index. Thank you, Jennifer, for such exceptional work!
Two more pieces round out this section. One is Amy Grier’s excellent review of Eating Lightbulbs and Other Essays by Steve Fellner. Amy does a masterful job of illustrating Fellner’s talent for revealing sacred truths and exploring contradictions. One example here will suffice: In an essay called “On Marxism, My Mother’s Body, and the State of Creative Nonfiction,” Fellner, Amy writes, “explores his subjects in a braided essay while asking, ‘Is there cowardice embedded in the braided essay?’ Is it a writer’s attempt at ‘gravitas,’ a way of avoiding what some criticize as ‘navel-gazing?’”
My final word here is for my friend Jon Papernick, who also has a talent for revealing sacred truths. It was a pleasure to ask Jon five questions about his new novel, I Am My Beloveds, a story about a married couple that decides to have an open marriage. Our conversation explores the intersection between fiction and real life, the process of character creation, and the concept of using fiction as a lens to explore faith.