Present at the Editorial Table:
Kathleen Volk Miller
This week’s episode features three poems by two authors: “As Snow” by Pam Matz and “Solu-Medrol” and “Words” by Michael Levan.
Pam Matz reads poems to get some real news and writes poems to find out what she means. The previous sentence is almost true. She’s spent most of her working life moving words around, as a typist, editor, librarian, and writer. She has a pet rabbit, who is bossy and silent.
We started off our conversation with “As Snow,” a poem about death, dying, and possibly dementia. A poignant account of what we read as an instance of mother-daughter interaction, Matz brought into discussion the impact of death on the survivor and how losing someone close can make us hyper-aware of our own mortality. Images and ideas of snow, cliffs, and death are well-woven elements in this piece and part of what left us anxious to give our votes.
Michael Levan, unlike previous Slush Pile-r Frank Scozzari, didn't finish the John Muir Trail because 30 miles into the trek with his future wife, he sprained his MCL. He's a diehard Clevelander who couldn't bear going to school the day after Earnest Byner's fumble versus the Denver Broncos in 1988, which is why he made sure to attend the first major Cleveland sports championship celebration last summer along with 1.3 million other fans. This past Easter night, he and his wife welcomed their third child, Odette, who along with Atticus and Dahlia, have made their world complete, no matter how difficult the pregnancies were.
We move on to discuss the work of Michael Levan, “Solu Medrol” and “Words,” which also affects reflection on life, death, and dealing with illness. Levan’s structural choices for his writing lead us to ask what certain decisions might do - or undo - for the effect of our words. Can form distract from the intent? Can interruptions in pace lead the reader astray? Either way, Levan has a way of sustaining the sentimentality in his writing and making the speaker’s thoughts clear.
Tune in for the results! Let us know what you think about this episode, these poems, and virgules in poetry on Twitter and Facebook with #ScallopsAndVirgules!