Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chiron Review & an Albert Huffstickler Memorial

Chiron Review is to the small independent press what The American Poetry Review is to university and corporate presses. Founded in 1982, CR has consistently represented the best of small press poets publishing over the last three decades. It is one of my favorite small presses and mostly certainly my favorite that does not focus predominately on the short poem. Edited by Michael Hathaway, CR contains poetry of most shapes and sizes, fiction, interviews, essays, reviews, and general lit mag news. There is an interview each issue with the featured poet; in the issue I have at hand (#86, spring 2009), the poet is S. A. Griffin.

The poetry is expansive, both in quantity and quality. Edited by the renowned Gerald Locklin with his son, Zachary, a nice balance of different approaches is achieved, leaning to the modern open verse style. No ax to grind, no particular approach: quality seems to be the measure. The works are generally grounded in the everyday stuff of existence; there are not many castles in the air here or flights of academic fitfulness. In this issue, there were well over 100 poems judiciously laid out over 48 pages (CR shares the tabloid newspaper format of the The New York Daily News or The New York Post or the above mentioned American Poetry Review) and I dare say there is something here for everyone. Here's a mixed sampling of work that grabbed me:

When I Meet Her by the Seashore
I shall
untwine her time
unravel her travel
undo her mood
unfasten her battens
unmesh her dress
unbutton her bubbles
unleash her fresh.

And then I shall
unwind her behind
uncouple her trouble
unearth her worth
unstaple her paper
unzip her yip
unbuckle her tickle
untuck her lush.
Mary Meriam

stealing nothing from death

---for Shuku

---let the world say 'his most wise
---music stole nothing from death'
----------------E. E. Cummings
There will be a time
my soul smells bad enough
to kill
the canaries.

Live well &
die fast ------------that
is all that I ask. ----For there

will come an instance
when knowledge is dead -&
all that is is all
that is
remembered. ---------There

will be a moment
when the sky is black
& the play of children
is just -------------too

a room

where the music
is just

too much

to bare.

Poem for Miss Ross
After I get home from driving my taxi
for twelve or fourteen hours
I lay down on my bed but it all
keeps spinning back from me:
every face in the mirror,
every street under construction,
every near missed accident,
every stranger's horror story,
every time there were sobs in the back seat,
every time I laughed
to make someone feel better
about being a prick,
every time I got to the pick up
and found no one there,
every time I took a stupid route
or got stuck in traffic
where the silences are long,
every time I looked at poor Miss Ross
as I drove her to her cancer treatment,
white and tiny as an angel
with candy cigarette bones.
Mather Schneider

Noodles in the Backyard
What I remember
of my stray, jet black
is how he'd pause
at a flower,
place his snoot
between the petals
and drink it all in:
The tulip, the grass,
the afternoon.
Ten billion lifetimes
culminating in one
perfect scent.
Robert L. Penick

Southside Janet

her scars precede
the wounds
that cause them
Don Winter

There is fine work here also by Antler, David Chorlton, and Richard Kostelanetz, as well as two autobiographical essays by Lyn Lifshin and an interesting piece by the always perceptive Michael Kriesel about a "new" sub-genre he defines as the "Wisconsin Justified Poem": you'll have to read this one yourself and be the judge.

CR costs $7 per issue, a year/4 issues for $17. It's one of a handful of magazines I read cover to cover and thoroughly enjoy. Don't get me wrong, though; I don't like everything here. I just appreciate the exposure to the variety and quality of work that is consistently featured in Chiron Review. I recommend it highly. If you miss Chiron Review, you will be missing one of the genuine small press magazines that carries on a long standing tradition of literary excellence only fleetingly encountered in the bigs.


I received email this week from Elzy Cogswell of the Austin Poetry Society in which he mentions the possibility of naming a grove of trees across from City Hall in Austin after the poet Albert Huffsticker. I asked and received permission to quote the relevant portion of his email for this post and it follows.

For those of you who were fortunate enough to know the poetry of Albert Huffstickler or have came upon his work, here or in many other small press venues, you know how very unique, poignant and insightful it is. Here is the announcement of the nomination process:

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Alfred,
Lord Tennyson, who served as England’s Poet Laureate
for 42 years. We observe such things, and it’s good for

Albert Huffstickler was not the Poet Laureate of the
United States, although he was recognized as the Poet
Laureate of Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He had
won the Austin Book Award for his collection, Walking
Wounded (1989), but he was not even the Poet Laureate
of Texas. He never won a Nobel Prize, or even a Pulitzer.
He wrote poetry every day all his life, and he was published
almost as frequently. Although he won his share of honors,
I feel closer to the Huffstickler who didn't get rich on poetry.
I share that with him and with all the other poets who are
friends of mine. Huff lived for poetry every day until his
death on Feb. 25, 2002. We who have remembered him
annually in memorial readings also live for poetry, and with
him, we know that beautiful language is for the sake of
people who are ready to benefit from it.

A year or more ago, the Austin Poetry Society Board of
Directors began working toward planting a tree in a public
park to be called the Poetree. Then recently, an opportunity
arose for something better. The city has a very small park
area and wants a name for it. It’s a triangular piece of land
with about eight large oaks, many of them with double-trunks.
It already has a supply of limestone benches in the shade of
the trees. The place is directly across from City Hall in the
middle of the intersection of Cesar Chavez and South First
Street, just north of Ladybird Lake.

The Board of Directors asked me to nominate Huff’s name
for the park. I have therefore submitted this name: Albert
Huffstickler Poetrees Grove. The place to submit names is

If you knew Huff (or if you love poetry), perhaps you would
like to join me in this nomination by asking the Parks
Department to name the park for Huff. If we were successful,
this little jewel of a park could become a focal point for all the
Austin poetry organizations, all the people who come for
special events like Austin International Poetry Festival, and
perhaps most importantly, for individual poets who just
want to sit down and think.

The process is a civic one, so you will see that the link leads to a form. Though it may primarily be for Austin citizens, it might indeed impress the City leaders if some nominations came from outside the community. The form has boxes for your personal info (address etc.), the suggested name for the grove (Albert Huffstickler Poetrees Grove), biographical info, the extent of Huff's civic involvement, his connection to the facility, and the reason for the nomination. Relevant biographical and civic material may be found at Huff's website at:

His connection to the facility (i. e. a grove of trees) is the connection between poetry and nature; Huff's work was always grounded in the natural world. The reason for the nomination you already know if you know Huff's work. This all will probably take 10 minutes of your time but if Huff has touched you with his work in anyway, it is a fitting tribute.


I've perused the 1st ten issues of Lilliput Review and featured a number of poems from them recently on both the Twitter page and in the Issa's Sunday Service count up. They've given about all they have to give, so I'm going to call this round of featuring poems from back issues of Lillie done.

So, I'm not entirely sure what direction I'll be heading in terms of highlighting work from past issues. I can tell you that a great deal of my time over the last few months has been spent in working on two manuscripts, one an anthology of the first 20 years of Lilliput Review and the other a manuscript of my own work. I've been going full bore for quite some time now, on these projects, this blog, Lilliput, the Twitter poem-a-day , and Facebook and need to think through how to proceed. In the interim, I noticed that I hadn't featured any work from some of the issues published since the archive feature began back in July of 2007 on the old Beneath Cherry Blossoms blog. So here's some highlights from #168, from March 2009.

Flash forward 20 years: enjoy.

nose upriver:
I walk away
Mike Dillon

another friend has slipped
into the long and crowded
history of us–
the fish market's
thousands of open eyes
George Swede

i stumble
the pebble shows
its darker side
Natalia L. Rudychev

Rented Rooms
There was a city in her moans
and I resided
in every room
on every block.
Jonathan Treadway

the outer shoals
looking down upon the ocean and the seashore
from my room at the daytona beach hotel,
i felt for the first time like an aging
naturalist writer or painter,
like dr. johnson sick-a-bed by the strand,
separated from both nature's solitude and
the madding of the vacationing crowd,
the subjects of one's art, so near and yet
no more to be embraced.
Gerald Locklin

the I and the U
Shawn Bowman

my dead mother--
every time I see the ocean
every time...
translated by David G. Lanoue



Ed Baker said...

sit in your back-yard
,watch the grass
and the weeds grow
: wait for something to happen...

something always does

John Grochalski said...


am also a fan of CR, and if you haven't, read Locklin's Life Force Poems, a wonderful collection about and in reverence to the values and muses that help shape an artists body of work in a spiritual sense.

also, hopefully Austin will get the Huffstickler memorial going..they seem a pretty progressive city in terms of music and such.

Charles Gramlich said...

I really like the Don Winter one. I'm not sure about the first few. the repetition of opening letters, "u" and "e" doesn't do much for me.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks Ed (always good to get a wakeup call), Jay (I'll check that Locklin out, I've got a couple of things of his here but not that one), and Charles ...

Charles, I see what your saying. I'm thinking the repetitiveness in both poems is particularly geared towards reading them aloud ... giving them a rhythm, a hook. Since I'm getting ready to do my first public reading in over 20 years, it may be my attraction to these at this particular time ... though, obviously, I published them so I like them, traffic-jam of vowels and all.