Note from the Editor

Victor Tongdee, 2022

A friend recently asked me about this very editor’s note. It began innocently enough with the question, how long does it take? I explained, not very long once I figure out what to write. I take forever with that first part. They said, that sounds daunting…sermonic, almost. I laughed at “sermonic” until the word itself chased me.

This is our third spring and there’s a kind of return to the beginning in this season of renewal. Like our first, we have an issue of 34 poets–for those of you who like symmetry and bookends or signs from the divine. We sequence our poems. There’s a mind for how the work speaks to each other. Dorianne Laux’s Starling meet Jamie O’Halloran’s Jackdaw, meet Jared Beloff’s confusion of warblers, meet Eilín de Paor’s fledgling blue tit. Frances Richey’s rainforest plays well with Lee Potts’ poet’s garden. And Dina Relles’ poem speaks to all of this when she reads the word “motel” in a book and is suddenly returned to those first feelings of the end with a lover.

The drawings of familial life in Liz Marlow’s work also foreshadow such harrowing loss. The way she weaves foreground and background and what is happening just out of scene isn’t belabored and so we feel it more somehow. Ruth Hoberman reminds us of desire’s limits; spring sings of the possible and something eternal while also signaling an end. We are always at once coming and going.

Sophia Naz’s own artwork adorns her poem. And poet Hedy Habra, whom we published last fall, was kind enough to provide the artwork to Lorelei Bacht’s page. I also want to send a special thank you to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for providing the artwork to Amy Beth Sisson’s poem. And to NASA for providing two images from their Great Observatories, which you can find on Jenna Lanzaro’s and Mandira Pattnaik’s pages.

Thank you to the band Lowlight – John Gleason – Rey Rivera – Colin Ryan – Dana and Derrill Sellers, for lending a song off their new EP. I was struck by this work and feel lucky to make a connection here. As always, thank you to the editorial and graphic arts team; I loved building this issue with you. 

What is the work without contrast? There is a play with light and darkness in Dustin Pearson’s poem and again in Majda Gama’s work, though nothing about those poems will feel like repetition. From the audio of Sean Sexton’s beautiful pastoral, you’ll hear crickets. Marion Brown’s stunning reading of her poem, “View to the Back,” was recorded in a neighbor’s sound studio. I’ve never been smitten with uniform, not in poem nor design. Good writing surprises and art’s charge, no matter the form, is to alter you. What I’ve always loved about poetry is that the alteration comes swifter than with a novel or a play. In this regard, poetry has more in common with a picture image, falling in love, heartbreak.

Welcome, on this early June morning, to the third spring issue of The Night Heron Barks.

Read Dorianne Laux’s Valentine