Edited by W.F Lantry
($9.95. (7 & 10), Paperback, 122 pages, 74 b&w photographs)
CONTRIBUTORS—POEMS, FICTION, AND NON-FICTION
Katherine E. Young : “Translation of Aleksei Khomiakov (1804-1860), Kremlin Easter Vigil”
Robert Eastwood : “Bull, ‘In a Field Below Ben Nevis, Scotland'”
Bill Yarrow : “Language Out of Water”
Nikoletta Nousiopoulos : “the oracle”
Michael Achile Umameh : “Flaming Feet of Reed”
Lisa Marie Brodsky : “The Offering”
Tom Kirlin : “Marriage Song”
Taunja Thomson : “Opulent Favors”
Katherine Hoerth : “The Geography of Eden”
Ferral Willcox : “Glossary of Snow 24, Starswan”
Laura Madeline Wiseman : “The Terrific, Demon-like Inhabitants of the Valley”
Elizabeth Kerlikowske : “Introductions”
Silva Zanoyan Merjanian : “Writer’s Block”
Kathleen McClung : “A Broken World”
LindaAnn Lo Schiavo : “Romance Attacks My Dance Card”
K.B. Ballentine : “Tree, Singing”
Joey Nicoletti : “Silo City”
Mark J. Mitchell : “Spirit Level”
Donna Pucciani : “First Night, Capodarco”
Ann E. Michael : “Imagined Painting of St. Mary Magdalene Bathing”
G. Timothy Gordon : “Begins the Begonia”
Anwer Ghani : “Light Wings”
Pui Ying Wong : “The Dogs”
Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll : “Allegro molto e vivace”
Lorraine Caputo : “Traversing The Night””
Tobi Alfier : “She was Always in Blue”
Clif Mason : “Selfie with Jorge Luis Borges”
Rachel Dacus : “To Be Espoused”
Paul Ilechko : “Story of the Lightning Bugs”
Deborah Gang : “The Short Lifespan of Everything Alive”
Celia Drill : “Open Fields,” “Singing with the Moon” and “Night House””
Louis Faber : “Cartography”
Tammy Ho Lai-Ming : “Leftovers” and “Distraction””
Yvette Neisser : “Tea””
Martin Willitts, Jr : “Star Charts””
Grace Marie Grafton : “Trumpet Flower””
Anna M. Evans : “Casualties of Fast Living”
Ruth Asch : “A Walk in Charpentier”
James Owens (translation of Rainer Maria Rilke) : “But it is purer to die””
Beth Copeland : “Dime-Store Mirror”
Erin Wilson : “Spiderwebs in Twilight”
C.J. Muchhala : “Selene”
Peggy R. Ellsberg : “Blue”
Matthew Friday : “Swallowtails”
Sneha Subramanian Kanta : “Sunset Chronicle”
Kim Whysall-Hammond : “Only Exmoor”
Elizabeth Spencer Spragins : “Kindling,” “Siege,” “Chamber Music,” “Mirage” and “Coveted”
Chris Hardy : “Naming the Rain”
Kelly Cherry : “Birds On The Patio Feeders”
Richard Peabody : “Pages from the Purple Book”
Jean-Yves Solinga : “Birth of a Muse”
Don Mager : “March Journal: Thursday, March 28, 2013”
Laura M. Kaminski (Halima Ayuba) : “An-Nur: Why Are You With Me?”
Kelvin Kellman : “Oracle God-diviner”
Mary Jane White : “White Buffalo”
Alec Solomita : “The Red Lights of Needham”
Jo-Anne Rosen : “Chins Up”
James Robison : “Less”
Susan Tepper : “Wandered”
Elaine Chiew : “The Suitcase”
Nina R. Alonso : “Double Rainbows, Translation for Mortals”
Kate Lemery : “Cecilia and the Seurat”
Eva Wong Nava : “The Everlasting Face”
Wong Wen Pu : “To Marie, With Love”
Kaori Fujimoto : “Pints of Beer”
It was winter: a cold day with light snow. Sometimes the buildings sheltered us from the wind, and sometimes they channeled it. Kate didn’t mind, she’s from Connecticut, after all, and used to teach skiing in Vermont. To her, this was nothing. But I’m from San Diego and prefer tropical blossoms or cool La Jolla breezes. I shivered. I desired only to fly south, on any available wings, viewless or not, as quickly as possible. I may even have said so. Aloud.
“Too bad!” Kate said. “Toughen up, California. You’re likely to live, and we’ve got work to do. Our table at the conference has to be set up by five this afternoon.”
As you may have guessed, this is Washington, DC, a town too cold for westerners and too warm for New Englanders. Kennedy called it a place of southern efficiency and northern charm, and he had a point. What’s more, it changes every eight years. I arrived in the 90s, to an atmosphere of productive promise and substantial enthusiasm for the future. I still remember how shocked I was when the whole city changed on January 20, 2001. I was out for dinner in Bethesda that evening. The quiet, civilized atmosphere had been swept away on a tide of raucous, unseemly currents. It stayed that way for eight years, through snipers and anthrax, jetliners as guided missiles, and the fallout from Katrina, all capped off by economic collapse.
But everything changed again on January 20, 2009. Most of us wept while we watched and listened. Such joy, such elation! This was finally the place we’d always believed in, but hardly dared to dream. There was audacious hope suddenly, in spite of the difficulties. And even through all the adversity of the next eight years, the deadlocks and exigencies, the hope remained.
But now it was February 2017. I don’t want to remind you, you don’t want to be reminded. It was 20 degrees, and snowing. A guard waved us forward past the barriers.
We pulled up to the loading dock. If you want to survive an authoritarian regime, you need someone like Kate. She got out of the car and went over to talk to the officials, who grumbled and shook their heads but finally bent to her will. She could talk a pitchfork out of the hands of an angry villager. They let us unload.
And what were we unloading? Banners and tablecloths. Peacock feathers. All manner of hammered brass peacock figurines. And books. So many books. Among them, dozens of copies of the first Peacock Journal Anthology.
For this was AWP, the annual conference of the Associated Writing Programs, and half the writers and poets in the country were going to be walking through that convention center over the next several days. Fifteen thousand writers, all in one place. If anyone ever tells you writing feels like a lost art, it’s proof they’ve never been to AWP.
We had a table reserved for the journal in the book fair area, and Kate had prepared so many accoutrements it took a couple of hours to set up. Even though the conference hadn’t started yet, people were dropping by. Old friends were already finding us, and wanted to talk art and politics. We responded while arranging peacock plumes. One had worked in the White House under different regimes, and stood there, shaking his head at the latest news. But he was also a contributor, and he brightened when he saw the anthology, which had arrived in boxes that very morning.
“But it’s gorgeous,” he said. “Michael Linnard does beautiful work,” I replied. Those sets of words would be repeated many times over the next several days. He was still standing there when Kate got an excited message from Michael himself. The anthology had just become the best selling poetry anthology on Amazon. And it was #1 in “Hot New Releases.” I took a screenshot of the Amazon page, because I figured that wouldn’t last more than an hour or two, and I wanted to remember the moment.
I needn’t have bothered. It kept that position for the entire conference. For the next four days, even though our table was far from central, people kept dropping by. Was it the anthology? Was it the gorgeous setting Kate had created? Was it Kate herself?
I don’t know. But it was wonderful and gratifying. So much of the work of editing a journal, especially a daily journal of poetry, fiction, translation and art, gets done in private silence. You never know how you’ll be received in public.
We met so many contributors, the famous and the infamous, locals and people who’d come all the way from other continents, poets and artists and essayists and fiction writers and photographers. They all wanted to chat with Kate since she does the correspondence. Several of them had built personal relationships with her by email. I was just the blond on her arm. Well, OK: the bearded guy with the long white hair. But you get the picture.
One evening, the contributor I’d known the longest, Clarence Major, invited us to a reading he was giving. Clarence and I had taught together at the Université de Nice many and many a year ago, and he still remembered some readings we’d done in the South of France. Another evening, the editor of Gargoyle invited us to read at an event he sponsored. I read a few poems, Kate sang “Annachie Gordon.” Then she found out it was the editor’s birthday, and she sang the “Baroque Happy Birthday.” You need to get her to sing it for your birthday someday.
A few days later, Michael started pressing us to bring out a quarterly anthology. He brought it up again at the start of April, and then at another conference in May. We could hardly disappoint him. And now, with the first-ever Peacock Journal reading coming up later this month in NYC, we’re once again rushing to get the journal out.
It’s an old story, and you already know it. I was just sitting in front of my monitor, happily reading. And Kate came in and said, “William, you have to write an Introduction.” “OK, tomorrow.” “No. Right now!” She’s sitting in a chair watching me as I type, making sure I get to a thousand words. It’s one of the many reasons I love her.