A Letter from Perihelion's Editor

With post-modernist fingerprints all over the scene, corrupt law enforcement agencies miming purposeful activity, and a largely indifferent public being spoon-fed official non-explanations, the crime of the century—disappearance of passion and meaning, the flesh and blood of poetry—is likely to remain unsolved. Meanwhile, the finger-pointing continues: Derrida. Bernstein. Ashbery. Graham. Lousy editors. Ring-kissing critics. Tradition-phobic poets. The MFA factory. Attention-Deficit readers.

While keystone cop book-blurbers rush to and fro, praising each other’s efforts; while note-taking critics hear noises in the cellar and run to the attic to investigate; and while hall-of-fame editors take pictures of the crime scene to display on their walls, we, the victim’s family, friends, and lovers are left in silence trying to sustain the memory of the beloved body, trying to describe to others what was once compelling and alive.

In this issue of Perihelion, we explore poetry’s morphological echo, through discussion with a leading, finger-on-the-pulse critic, Steve Burt; through translations torn soul-first from their native language, through the profile of a poet who walks in narrative and post-narrative worlds, alert in both, eye on the body at all times; through reviews of today’s practitioners by impossible-to-fool reporters, and through a selection of poetry that ranges far in voice and style but keeps after that tantalizing shape under the sheet.

Welcome to this end-of-winter issue of Perihelion, wherein we deliver to you, the reader, the shape of the body; even, at times, the body itself—the longed-for presence of real poetry. Take a look. The evidence is all here.

Joan Houlihan