Avatar Index

Editorial Comments

photo credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Jon Teets and Lorianne Zeller, Publishers
Ron Jones, Editor & Advisor
Paula Grenside, Poetry & Art Editor
David Ayers, Prose & Art Editor
Ro Miller, Cover Design
David Wright, Editor
Mike Farmer, Assistant
The Weasel

Special thanks to Willy for the icon.

Out From Under It

I love him whose soul is deep even in the wounding, and may succumb through a small matter: thus goeth he willingly over the bridge.

—F.W. Nietzsche


Beneath a dinky photo of the structure, the caption in the brochure might have read:

‘Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco;
most photographed object in the world.'

How such a claim was to have been substantiated we couldn't know, but it wouldn't have surprised us to learn later that it had started as a ruse—that the facts hadn't been consulted, weren't available, couldn't be verified at the time. Not until after the fiction was produced.

See, we'd already driven over Golden Gate, and after having pulled off the freeway at Fort Point—beneath the south end of the bridge, where one looks up at the massive red towers and out at the incredible span, the water foaming beneath and the Marin County hills to the north; there, where one would have to stand for the better part of a day just to begin to appreciate the enormity of the construction, the brute force, the tons of steel involved, the improbable grace evinced in the finished structure—we, too, were compelled to take a picture.


Nor is Golden Gate the first, the only bridge constructed with this intent: to be crossed and then admired. There are bridges in Paris, in Venice, centuries older and just as commanding, just as memorable, just as effective at evincing the designer's aim. To wit, that the structure itself be relevant; that it's not just how, or where, or where to, but on what that we cross, with which we're fundamentally concerned. And more so than a boat, more so than a plank, significantly more so than our own feeble legs, a well-built bridge suggests steadiness, reliability, and yes, more than a little measure of permanence. The link it is serves to connect the two sides for a good while.


Now, what does all this have to do with Avatar Review? Well, whenever we thought about bridges, we thought about how perilous some crossings can be, and how necessary it is to make them. We knew that AR 1 2 3 and 4 had been such crossings—perilous, necessary—and that their crews had made them not simply because they were thrill-seekers and masochists of the first order, but because they were anxious to secure a landing, to clear a way for the next waves.

Our way was to build bridges. A quick survey from any spot will confirm it: bridges, as far as the eye can see. They stretch from poetry to prose, to photography to painting, to reviews to interviews. And they stretch. Can you fathom ‘scholarly aplomb'—one contributor's wild (but rigorous) speculation into the origins of that obscurest of obscurities—a ‘lesser-known' Browning poem? We can—thanks to bridges. Perhaps you will too.

We mean to alert you of other significant crossings. Poetry is a delight to hear when read aloud, in the poet's own voice. Listening to the audio files that represent almost half of this issue's poets will confirm it. New this year, we expect that audio will become a permanent feature of Avatar Review. The early buzz is that good.

Poetry is also of a good span. We asked for poems about bridges. We got poems about bridges—and then some. Our contributors' selections cover such diverse areas of interest as history, politics, the urban landscape, the paradoxical nature of devotion and its hold over the individual, failed connections, the nature of connectedness itself. Themes range from suspicions of a loved one's drug use to desire set to Classical music to the transformative power of a handshake. All this, and a variety of styles and forms including the sonnet, the villanelle, the ghazal, the pantoum, the narrative, the lyric, poems in translation, poems in epistolary and confessional modes.

Besides great poetry, great sound, this issue of Avatar Review also features several wonderfully experimental designs in prose and in art. The bridges depicted in these sections are colorful and they are funky. Captions to individual works might have read ‘Whoa,' ‘Howcome you humans never thought of this?' and ‘Cross. Look, I'm right behind you.' But, we didn't write them. Only if our featured artist Wes Hyde had been unavailable to be interviewed would we have really gone through with the plan. He wasn't. We learned a lot about painting from that interview, about the western, about bullriding—mainly that persons who deal in pigment, not parchment, are crazier than you are.

See also our interview with featured poet Frank Matagrano. Frank speaks about paranoia and falling from a plane, his obsession with Watergate, the allure of discomfort. But what he's really saying is ‘Hey, I'm just like you.' That's him, waving to you from up there. We understand that Frank considers the rope bridge to be the stablest of designs at that altitude. Yeah, we try not to look.

Finally, our reviewers share their thoughts on new poetry from Katie Ford and Claudia Emerson, examine Poetry's sordid past, and give us the scoop on several recent novels. Then we cut the ribbon on Bridges and turn the site over to you, the readers, arriving just in time.


Fortunately, we had our own shortcomings—gaps—whatever we needed to get across, places we needed to go. We had our own desire to join things—it was incessant—people, places, events throughout time—the more of us, the more unlikely the connections, the bigger, the more challenging. We just hoped for damned good bridges to cross.

And we got them, look.
Until next time, where we visit Dwellings,
Ciao. See you in Khat, in Droom, lurking beneath your feet.

—The Eds.






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