Erin Sweeten


In this issue of Unsplendid, you’ll find poems that consider political speech, Renaissance-era break-ups, hair, March Madness, and insults. Several insects make appearances, as do a few presidents and a few elephants. There are centos and sestinas, ballads and sonnets. I hope this list conveys a sense of kaleidoscope more than carnival; seeing these poems together after a summer of sifting through the possibilities, I am delighted by their variety and collective brightness. In this group, I am made aware once again of the power of totems as repositories of meaning, those singular animals and objects that draw their significance from attention and ritual. Lately their echoes have been present everywhere, both in life and in poetry.

Numerous visits to garage sales and resale shops of late have given most of my interactions with strangers an economic basis. Yet nearly everyone I encounter makes a concerted effort to shift from the cold rhythm of a buy-and-sell transaction into the messy fragments of the personal. Every object has a story, from an Old World grandmother threatening a husband with a rolling pin to a homeowner freaking out the dogs by attaching walkie-talkies to their collars. Buying stuff that others are done with, I am still asked to honor history and meaning.

Likewise, we are asked in many of this issue’s poems to allow—nay, encourage—the tangible bits and pieces to be constructed, in the course of the verse, into story or purpose. Erica Dawson’s “Nappyhead” tells a life story in hair: “I’ve been the priss/ Plucked hard, hot-waxed until the skin/ Bubbles, straightened before the thin/ Locks break beneath the hiss”. Dan Beachy-Quick writes in “Poem” that “A cloud begins as a mote of dust moisture/ Adheres to a motion heaving earth into air.” One of the most lovely properties of formal verse is its ability to create orderly space where this disorderly adherence, this wild construction, can at last occur. We hope you will find pleasure in that process on these pages.

Six poets appearing in issues 1.1 and 1.2 gathered in Baltimore on September 1st at the official launch of the journal, reading their work to a standing-room-only audience. Pictures of the event are available here for those who are wondering what the writers of their favorite poems look like. Thanks to Traci O’Dea, Peter Campion, Terese Coe, Elizabeth Hadaway, Alexander Long, and Greg Williamson for reading, to Area 405 for providing the space, and to the crowd that turned up to celebrate with us.

For upcoming issues, we plan to expand by including podcasts and letters to the editor. We are always looking for high-quality poetry in received or nonce forms and relevant, interesting book reviews. Check back soon for information about an upcoming contest, and please do share your thoughts on the issue with us at editor {at}


Phoenix, AZ
Sept. 11, 2007


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