Wednesday, April 29, 2020

natalie hanna : issue nine : INTRODUCTION

I trusted the women. I asked them to send me poems that mattered to them, with no more specific theme, believing in the narrative that would come.

In this issue of G U E S T, you will find an airing out, a giving over to water, and longings for escape. You'll read about endurance, about the way the body holds violence, about the strangeness of the future, and about the hope in the smallest of things. Inside are transformations of trauma and the rewriting of the self, the sharing of wisdom, and the managing of the sorrows that follow us. You'll read about the many shapes of home. Here are women reinvigorating the words of other women, glosa style. Women dedicating poems to each other. Women choosing.

As I was reading the works they chose to send to me, and choosing amongst them, I noted how many of the authors relied on water, or its absence, to discuss survival.  Shery Alexander Heinis talks of the necessary immersion of our bodies into water, which contains both life and death. Anita Dolman's [in Huron County] coats us in so much dust, rust, and closeness, we crave the freshness of water while we crave escape. As we dig deep into the poems, we see Natalee Caple eulogize Canadian Poet Pat Lowther, brutally murdered and discovered in water, through a tight rewriting of Lowther's own History Lessons that speaks across time. At the close of the issue, BarĂ¢a Arar speaks to us of all that is ungraspable in the ocean of "home." Their concepts of water move from that which lives the tiniest of places - the breath - to that which lives in the sublime - the clouds.

Below I have found and bound one line from each of the poems of the thirteen women in this issue (and one extra from Alexander Heinis's for the title). This is for the authors of this issue and for all of the water women, the rain speakers, the washing women, the tide-ruled,  lake-dwelling, the creek-cradled, unmoored women. This is for those turned to ice, who resist fire, who are cloud-bound. For the ones clinking the ice in their drinks. For the ocean-tossed and tired.

– natalie hanna

water: a body

our mouths all grotto
alive with dead bodies & bones

the memories of foundry dust thicken –
breath exhausts

          all her teeth carving coal

when i woke up, i was past something

looking at it, i struggle to keep my balance
without the careful curation of answers

the difficulty lies in staying in character
your images rise, collide with my mind

          she recounts her encounter:
          there was so much that needed to be unpacked

but you have to believe the water will return to you

natalie hanna runs battleaxepress press, a small poetry press, since 2016. she is an Ottawa lawyer working with low income populations. Her writing focusses on feminist, political, and personal themes. She was a past Administrative Director of the Sawdust Reading Series and past board member of Arc Poetry Magazine (2016-2018). She is the author of ten chapbooks, including three with above/ground press, with an 11th forthcoming from Baseline Press in the Fall of 2020. Her poetry, interviews and commentary have appeared in print and online in Canada and the U.S. Her poem “light conversation” received Honourable Mention in ARC Magazine’s 2019 – Diana Brebner Prize. For more information, find her at the battleaxepress web site:

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