THE CHIMAERA’s prime interest is formal verse; we like, and publish, well-written free verse, but our natural bias is towards poetry composed in traditional form, using metre and often rhyme, as well as other poetic devices associated with the ancient traditions of English poetry. Issue 6 of The Chimaera is focused very firmly on this interest. Our Spotlight feature is on Ann Drysdale, an accomplished and individual practitioner of formal verse whose poems have a clear, fine wit as well as a solid, palpable integrity that is easy to recognise and respond to; our Well-Wrought Form themed section is devoted to poems written in intricate form; and our General section too has the usual strong component of formal verse, alongside one or two particularly fine vers libre poems.
Ann Drysdale steps into The Chimaera’s magic circle of Spotlight this issue. Harry Chambers of Peterloo Poets first suggested her to us as a subject for our Spotlight feature, and we are very glad indeed that we took up the suggestion. Ann is a treasure. Ultimately of course it is not a poet’s personality but her poetry that defines her, but from the start, to collaborate with Ann was to work with a familiar, humane, clever, well-loved friend: one with whom it is natural to laugh and to share intimate thoughts and insights. This would be nice but not remarkable (in this context at least) if it were not that Ann’s poetry has those same qualities: there is substance to it, truth, a sharp wit that engages incisively with reality. And these qualities find their natural embodiment in the solid, complex structures of traditional versification, professionally composed.
Harry Chambers, John Whitworth, Raymond Tallis, Glyn Pursglove and Rose Kelleher present a wide range of personal and critical perspectives on Ann’s life and oeuvre, and The Chimaera’s interview with her reveals some surprising and intriguing treats. But reading her poems will provide the most rewarding introduction to Ann and her work.
For our Well-Wrought Form section we were fortunate to have the editorial assistance of Stephen Edgar, one of the world’s foremost formalist poets, who was himself the subject of the Spotlight feature in The Chimaera’s fifth issue. Along with The Chimaera’s regular editors, Stephen has helped select a rich array of intricately constructed formal poems from a wide variety of poets with individual styles and themes, but with a common respect for, and mastery of, complex form. And what a wide range of forms it is: Rhina Espaillat’s delicate ovillejo, sapphics by (among others) Rick Mullin and Maryann Corbett, David Landrum’s stefanile sonnet, villanelles, amazingly woven wreaths and knots of stanza, rhyme and line length from Claire Askew, Enriqueta Carrington, Clive James, Alan Gould, and many more.
Drawing the line between our Well-Wrought Form theme and the General poetry was to some extent artificial: for The Chimaera’s General Verse section is in any case normally well-stocked with intricate form. For example, we are very pleased to present four of the most delectable sonnets from Jennifer Reeser’s Sonnets from the Dark Lady sequence. Other sonnets from this sequence have been published in various journals, including The Flea and Mezzo Cammin; here are some more to whet your appetite for the entire sequence when it is published. Geoff Page from Australia and C.P. Stewart from North Yorkshire show that The Chimaera’s taste is not at all confined to formally metrical rhymed verse, but rather to verse that is excellent.
The next issue of The Chimaera, which will appear online somewhere around February, 2010, will spotlight the Australian poet Alan Gould, who has some poems in this current issue. Alan Gould writes outstanding formal poetry as well as fiction and has a strong, unique voice that should become familiar to a wider audience. To resonate with some of Alan’s major poetic concerns, for our feature theme Issue 7 will invite verse and other compositions on the topic of Voyages and Quests.
Editor: Paul Stevens
Co-editor: Peter Bloxsom
Artist/Photographer: Patricia Wallace Jones
Paul Stevens was born in Yorkshire, but lives in Australia where he teaches Literature. He has published poetry and prose widely in pixel and print. He also edits The Flea metaphysicalzine.
Peter Bloxsom is a freelance writer and web developer. His articles, fiction, reviews, essays, humour, poems and other writings have appeared in print and online. His own site is at www.netpublish.net. He edits 14 by 14, the lean sonnet zine.
Patricia Wallace Jones is an artist, poet, and retired disability advocate. More of her artwork can be seen at: http://imagineii.typepad.com/imagineii/.