Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ocho #6 Should Have A Cult Following

Ocho #6 - Published by Didi Menendez

Review by Missy McEwen

Don't let the size (ten pages long) fool you, this issue is filled with poems by heavy hitters like Lorna Dee Cervantes (her poem Shelling the Pecans won a Pushcart Prize), Diego Quiros, Lyn Lifshin, Grace Cavalieri, and John Korn.

Ocho #6 is like an underground 'zine you would come across in a small bookstore. You would buy it because of the cover (the cover is hot!) and you would keep it because of the poems and because of the way the pages are numbered in Spanish: pagina 1, pagina 2, and so on. You'd feel special and privileged to have stumbled across it. Like a phenomenon discovered, you'd want to show it off and share it with friends. So I am sharing.

The poets in Ocho #6 each have their own style and voice, yet this issue is not choppy. Some of the poems can be grouped because of similarities, but still no poem sounds the same. For instance, a few of the poems evoke the magical, sensual feeling that only summer nights can bring. The two poems by Lyn Lifshin are good examples:

From Champlain, Branbury, The Lakes at Night:

"always women in the

dark on porches talking

as if in blackness their secrets

would be safe....

Night flowers full of things with wings,

something you almost

feel like the fingers of a boy moving...

under sheer nylon...

in the dark movie house..."

From Middlebury Poem:

"Milky summer nights,

the men stay waiting...

as they have all June evenings of their lives....

Miss Damon...

hurries to unlock the library, still

hoping for a sudden man to spring tall from the

locked dark mysterious card catalogues..."

In Groovy Mortimer y Su Lepista Nuda written by Lorna Dee Cervantes, "It was a black beans summer night/...and you could smell the tamale pie in the avenues/coming from the curtained backs of the bodegas..."

While other poems in Ocho #6 explore darker topics. For example, Michael Parker's A Difference Between Us:

"You sip war like a glass of red syrah…

Consider I told you: I lost my soldier-son from

a bullet to the head, execution style

in front of a mosque."

Even in Lyn Lifshin's Champlain, Branbury, The Lakes at Night, there is a sense of something brewing:

"something miscarried

that maybe never was.

The mothers whispered

about a knife, blood…"

In Reyes Cardenas' Running Away, Running Away:

"somebody please pull this rearview mirror

out of my head and the reflection

of the city I am leaving behind.

No, not that homeless beggar,

let him fend for himself.

No, not that dead prostitute,

it's too late for her."

I like Reyes Cardenas' style. In fact all the poets in Ocho #6 have an enviable style, so it is hard to pick a favorite. All these poets, these notable poets, in one issue makes Ocho #6 something like a collector's item.

Published by GOSS183::CASA MENENDEZ (2006). For more information on where to purchase this book, stop by

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