With this latest issue, Annulet now feels less like a streak of lucky meteors than a comet who has found its regular orbit. I still feel kind of awed when I consider how much good writing comprises this fourth venture, and I’m unremittingly grateful as Issue (4)’s publication has approached and in the season’s interlude between appearances, as submissions and queries take their place in the inbox queue and as I’ve returned to our previous three issues and assembled this bright one with those in mind, that so many writers would share their work as part of Annulet’s project. Nothing is inevitable (except maybe actual meteors and comets); neither is yet another issue filled with such comprehensively original, lively, sharp and supple lines, images, sentences, appreciations, insights. The work of Issue (4), just as before, feels at ease with the beauty of various intelligences particular, even local, to author and context. I’m grateful to both Wave Books and Fonograf Editions for making available poems from their forthcoming titles, dg nanouk okpik’s Blood Snow and Alice Notley’s Early Works, respectively: both volumes are destined to become landmark poetic contributions.
If you’re coming to Issue (4) specifically in search of annulets, then you’re in luck: you’ll find six new contributions to our eponymous essay category ranging in focus on works from figures like Jorie Graham, Renee Gladman, and C.D. Wright. For every reader of a poem, there will be a different kind of closeness in studied reading, and an interpretation of what it means to close read as a method and as a mode of sustained attention, scaling from detail to implication to the world in which the text lives. Alex Streim appreciates the phenomenal sleight-of-hand of an early poem by Aracelis Girmay, which restores real sweetness to reading and teaching; S. Brook Corfman poses Cameron Awkward-Rich’s “Essay on a Theory of Motion” as a formal metaphor for transitions between genre and gender. Christos Kalli makes the case for reading embodied, intergenerational complication and “psychologically intricate dynamics” in “Threshold” by Ocean Vuong. Such depth and range of convivial analysis is foundational to the approach to critical writing that Annulet seeks to supply.
And it’s not just through annulets that depth and range are shown: Annulet is lucky also to have the opportunity to publish remarks, converted to short essays, from five Salvadoran poets—Maryam Ivette Parhizkar, Yvette Siegert, Alexandra Lytton Regalado, Claudia Castro Luna, and William Archila—which were originally delivered at the 2022 AWP Conference amidst, in my estimation, surprising controversy. These pieces gather their respective reading histories and personal responses to the canonical documentary poem “The Colonel” by Carolyn Forché. While these poets have every reason not to be generous, their responses show, with both admiration and frustration framed in kindness, how a single poem has shaped and shadowed each poet’s writing life. In reading this folio, which also republishes poems from Maryam Ivette Parhizkar and Alexandra Lytton Regalado as part of their comments’ dialogue, I am reminded that a cri de cœur is never apolitical, nor is its echo free of complication. As much and as often as poems work to condense the world into a fusion of intellection and feeling, many contemporary readers aren’t satisfied with a poem’s obvious politics if that is its only, and shallow, interest.
Much of the poetry is Issue (4) is excerpted from longer sequences, from Abby Ryder-Huth’s four missives from desire’s lush, foreboding forms, to Valerie Hsiung’s speculative tract in verse on the dynamics of community-oriented, politically radical social life (which can be read truest to its form on desktop, in a screen-wide window). Such work emphasizes a question of duration from concentration’s annals, which is not dissimilar from the ongoing echo of a poem’s effect through time. To incorporate time into form is to think with present awareness about the shape of one’s thinking within and against history, to propel with/against uncertainty and void. With “Indecipherable Hieroglyph,” Catherine Theis dramatizes, in deep archival “play,” so to speak, H.D.’s “sonic transmissions, rosemary-scented, cascad[ing] generatively down through the generations” in the longest work Annulet has published to date. Sylvia Chan’s two lyric poems consider trauma’s afterlife and its terms, which continue to be negotiated and endured; in a similar spirit, Stefania Gomez’s “Elegy: Crossroads” traces grief through the visual lines of an antique quilt’s pattern. It’s very likely just me (you can let me know), but much of the poetry in Issue (4) is reminiscent of C.D. Wright: I sense her influence in Caroline Rayner, Brendan Sherry, Evan Gray, and in Nicholas Molbert’s prose excerpt from “stillcoast,” with its many Gulf Coast portmanteaus, or, as he phrases it, “[a]n imminent lamentation production machine like the elliptical poetics weather inspires.”
With this issue, Annulet announces a new essay category: the Garland, for which we are actively seeking submissions or pitches. I’ll rephrase myself from my Twitter post testing the idea: these essays will focus only on writers whose work appears often in periodicals, but whose first book (yet) eludes them, or who are happily writing under the radar with little or no interest in climbing the long ladder to publication. The point is to detach critical engagement from the book as standard of a writer’s value, to steer our attention away from competitive anointment toward writing itself. Make no mistake: this is not against reviews or criticism, which detail why and how we might read a book or author’s writing, nor is it intended to covertly suggest some writers more than others for presses’ attention. Instead, Annulet is interested in how can we open up our public regard to those writers beyond word of mouth, and allot the same treatment for that work regardless of its potential material production. Garlands, which you can read more specifically about on our Submissions page, will fill that critical gap, similar to but distinct from recent efforts like the U.K.’s Propel Magazine, which showcases writers without a book. I am excited to see what writers and blossoms the Garland will yield.
With deep and detailed reading,