I once found myself in a little town, outside Salerno, Italy, called Castelnuovo. It was a mountain village that had been altered by the earthquake. Farmland changed, rivers diverted. What remains persists.
This is our second spring for those marking the time. There’s a connectivity to the work here that feels special. I don’t know if it’s more of an outside force or an internal one, but a river runs through these poems.
I want to thank the editorial team, who were as always, thoughtful and diligent. The work got seen and labored over, fought for. I want to thank Chris Pureka for providing us with a migratory song to begin our issue. Chris’s songs have always set my poet brain ablaze, gotten my heart and mind right. I also want to thank Mercé Calsina and the Calsina Foundation for giving us permission to use two of Ramon Calsina’s paintings. They accompany Elizabeth Catanese’s beautiful poems inspired by the art.
Weeks in to my stay in Castelnuova, a cover band from Roma arrived singing Bon Jovi. There were two piazzas in the center of town. The old one broken by the earthquake and cast only in moonlight while a new one built directly below ran by electricity. A few widows and widowers strolled the broken piazza while the young could-be coupled walked the new. I stood between the two centers, the old and the new, with Valentina’s Swiss dog, who only answered commands in French. The New Jersey anthem, “It’s My Life,” played.
There’s a magical convergence of art, music, and poetry that runs through our virtual space. Even as I have a hand in it, I sometimes feel like a traveler struck with my own sense of wonder—traversing our pages. But I began this with a belief that a confident poet is a fierce bird, and usually begins at declaring before confidence has taken wing. And I hold, that for all our mimicry and posturing, a poet’s voice, once found, is unique and true. Like Robert Pinsky, or perhaps because of him, I believe our art is meant to be a spoken one. I think if you’re going to bring a group of poets together, like starlight, make it a scattering of Night-Herons and any song, after dusk and before the dawn, is a bark.
Welcome, on this May morning to the second spring issue of The Night Heron Barks.
Click here to read Kathleen Ossip’s “River”