When I first became aware of the poet Kari Gunter-Seymour, it was through Gyroscope Review’s submissions for the spring 2016 issue. Her poems about having a son who served in the US military in the Middle East took my breath away, as it did for my co-editor, Constance Brewer. We ended up publishing some of her work in that spring issue, as well as in our fall 2016 special Honor Issue. We could see that her poetry sprang from a deep well of extraordinary experience combined with a vast reservoir of strength and love.
So, when a physical copy of Kari’s chapbook, Serving (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2018) arrived in my mailbox at home in Minnesota this spring as a gift to both Constance and me, I was absolutely surprised and delighted. I texted a photo of the book to Constance, who lives in Wyoming, and told her I would mail it to her when I was done.
Then I left for Switzerland. I didn’t have time to read Kari’s book before I left. That’s how the week after the Fourth of July found me on my deck in my own peaceful back yard reading her poems, my heart clenched. These 17 poems, including the three we published, create a heartbreaking picture of how a parent lives with the choice of their child to serve their country only to return home with pieces of themselves shattered. It talks about how parents then serve those adult children – giving them a couch to crash on, helping with childcare, listening – while the memories of earlier years flash in and out of each day. The child a parent remembers never disappears, but is overlaid on this grown child with adult needs, adult worries. The juxtaposition is jarring. This work examines how all of us serve each other throughout our lives, one way or another, when we love each other.
As I sat on my deck that afternoon, trying to figure out how to talk about this book, I realized it wasn’t just the book that needed to be discussed. There are a lot of ways to serve – military service, parenthood, emergency response, volunteering, and making art that reframes issues. Poetry can be a powerful vehicle for getting stories out there in a way that reporting and fiction cannot; the way words are shaped into a glimmer of something more, the way they bullet through a page, can bring a reader to their knees. The moments, seemingly disconnected, that come together in a final stanza can vault the way a reader thinks into an entirely new place.
That was certainly my experience as I read Kari’s gift. My thoughts were shot off into new territory, my awareness of PTSD increased. Our servicemen and women deserve more from us – more listening to what they need, more immediate services for health issues including mental health, support that is not just a panacea that makes those who offer it feel better. As poets and writers, we are called upon to offer a vision that speaks beyond ourselves. As human beings, we must never walk away from the chance to serve each other.
I am grateful for Kari’s gift of poetry that makes us understand, just a little, how sacrifices ripple far beyond the people making them.
You can find a copy of Kari Gunter-Seymour’s chapbook, Serving, HERE.
Read her work in past issues of Gyroscope Review HERE.
Gyroscope Review Issue 19-3 is now available and ready to go to the beach with you. The cover, produced from a woodcut by our own editor Constance Brewer, flaunts its beachy-ness, begging you to grab your flip flops, a cooler full of something good to drink, and head to your favorite summer spot for some time alone with this season’s collection of poems.
Authors in this issue include Steve Anderson, Micki Blenkush, Carol L. Deering, Ginger Dehlinger, Michael DeMaranville, Renée Christine Ehle, Art Elser, Jennifer Gauthier, Ruth Gooley, Charles Grosel, Joseph Hardy, Nicholas Alexander Hayes, Laura Johnson, Elizabeth Jorgensen, Babo Kamel, Kate Kearns, Maureen Kingston, Sandra Kohler, Olga Livshin, Jenica Lodde, Kendall Mallon, Bonnie Lini Markowski, Nate Maxson, Ashley Memory, Daryl Muranaka, Karen Whittington Nelson, Hadi Panahi, James Penha, Alex Pickens, Ren Pike, Peter L. Scacco, Claire Scott, John Sierpinski, Travis Stephens, Laurel Szymkowiak, Lillo Way, Diane Webster, Laura Grace Weldon, Hannah Yerington, Mantz Yorke, and Mariel Yovino.
You may purchase a print copy HERE.
You may purchase a Kindle version HERE.
And, as always, you may access a PDF version HERE.
Our fall issue reading period also opens today. Our Fall 2019 Issue will be a special issue: The Crone Power Issue. Submissions are limited to poets over 50 who identify as women. For this special issue, we seek work that examines what it is to be a woman over 50 – one’s power, dreams, contributions. We want work that thinks beyond the usual and celebrates wise women, crones, matriarch, elders, strength, experience, the end of child-bearing. If you are not a poet over 50 who identifies as a woman, please do not submit for our fall issue. We will resume regular submissions for all with the winter 2020 issue.
You may find the full guidelines for the fall issue HERE.
As we dive deep into production for our summer issue, which will be out July 1, we also say goodbye to our assistant editor and social media manager Josh Colwell. We were lucky to have Josh work with us for the past year-and-a-half, grateful for his contributions and point of view as we continued shaping the identity of Gyroscope Review.
Josh was with Connie and me when we were on staff at the now-defunct Every Day Poets several years ago. We were delighted when he contacted us to see if there was room for him to work with us again here at Gyroscope Review and we are glad we said yes. Josh had the distinction of being the only male voice here as we sorted through new submissions and chose the pieces for each issue.
And now we are back to being an all-woman staff for the time being. We aren’t sure what the future holds (are any of us?), but we are clear that we will miss Josh and wish him all the best as he pursues new opportunities for his writing and editing talents.
Thanks for everything, Josh!
Arclight, by poet John Biscello, is an intriguing book brimming with possibilities. The book is divided into six diverse sections that carry themes through each section and tie them together with spirituality and attention to the relationships between people and creator, people and others, people and self.
I enjoyed the mix of short little poems that captured the intricacies of love and relationships, as well as the longer poems that delve into what it means to be connected with the spiritual, and the complications of love. Arclight is always drawing comparisons, answering and composing questions. Some of my favorite lines were about the Self, and its bonds to the heart.
The hidden vocabulary
of my heart
is reduced to essentials,
For many years
I asked Grief to
wait outside my window,
a peripheral guest
from I See Myself
He was my father,
still is. The bond between us thick
as viscous chains,
the sort that perpetrate magma,
and rattle and clank
when carried by the blue shivery breath
One of my favorite poems in the book, Funky Monk, describes the Muse as monk, an eccentric character breaking the bonds of solemnity to revel in life, to ponder the vast mysteries of the universe, causing bright introspection in the poet.
from Funky Monk
peer through the peephole
and see my monk
amidst the parchment
that is now whirling
confetti-like around the room
Throughout the book, there is a concentration of poems concerned with love, miracles, and religion that opens the reader’s eyes to how marvelous the world can be. The poems ask a lot of questions, sometimes answering them, sometimes leaving the mystery up to the reader to decide. In one section are lots of poems about women poets and other famous women, tributes to their importance and uniqueness, then poems about male writers that do the same. It’s an interesting look into people we hear about, but never imagined what their inner world could be like. The concluding section is a long dance between poet and personal mythology, a fitting end to an intriguing poetry book. Definitely worth a read.
from 6. Intraverse, Epitaph for a Beginning
I, a perpetual guest
to my own seeds
feel at home,
happy prey to a luminous gust