by Kirby Congdon…….
It is risky to orient a poem or its publication toward current news because the subject tends to become dated rather quickly. As a reviewer my prejudices came forward when I first saw issues of Blue Collar Review. Journal of Progressive Working Class Literature. The contributions leaned too readily on pat confirmations of unimaginative assertions of middle class cliches mostly on the idea that nice people do not misbehave. The text was often hasty if not careless. However, the editors, Al Markowitz and Mary Franke, cleaned up their act almost immediately and the magazine soon became a genuine outlet for individual experi-ence. The overall style of its contents soon showed much more mature discrimi- nation in the editing of it. I want now to give Blue Collar attention again.
The foreword emphasizes the current degradation of political language, the general anxiety about public violence as well as the absence of solutions in many areas of government. The editors write:
“These poets have been radicalized and are armed to the teeth, not with guns but with words sharpened to a razor’s edge armed with ideas and even worse, ideals!”
The increased use of ideas and thought in each issue has been evident. What makes this writer take notice now is the new function of the magazine as an outlet for our civilization by going beyond just the need for artistic expression. As an example Mary Franke uses the prevalence of machines in our lives as a provocative subject. She handles it with conviction rather than just saying, “tut-tut.” The title is “During Hurricane Joaquin.” I take it that it is referring to still yet another machine. My interest was held as she inserts references like a “fan, electric fire, music, moving picture, remote voice” and the narrator’s overall reaction to the immediacy of it all. I did feel an unnecessary bump in the general flow of the piece when a word (“choose”) is used twice in consecutive lines. The repetition tends to upset our involvement in the reading of the poem. We want a synonym! I would also suggest that spaces among words meant, perhaps, to indicate a nanosecond of silence and thought but they seldom work that way. We want the poet to provide that herself! The confusion toward the end was distracting when we have the phrase “Like the ancients called on gods” rather than “As the ancients….” But the concluding words that say, as I understand them, that the gods of the ancients “rarely arrive in the elevator or the dawn” was rather delightful in its irony and humor.