Considering that the third issue of Victoria-born queer literary journal Plenitude recently came out, it seems a little odd to be finally publishing this review of the second issue. The combined facts that I hate reading on my computer and that Plenitude is only published electronically almost makes me want an e-reader. Almost. I mean, you can know expect amazing things when you pick up a literary journal and the cover art is this awesome, adorable graphic by Elisha Lim. Don’t you just wish someone would say that to you, soon? I love it.
One standout contribution is Megan Backer’s quirky, nostalgic poem about being part of that generation of “the last kids / with our imaginations /fully intact”; you know, those of us who remember the world BEFORE THE INTERNET. Ha, I’ve totally caught also myself talking “like an old man / blathering on about the good / ol’ days.” Also, about how much better pop music was in the nineties. I digress; Backer’s “The Internet Has Since Rendered My Childhood Useless” is a funny, smart poem anyone born in the 8os will enjoy.
Edmonton-based poet Rachel Lindley ends her poem of everyday long-distance romance with this tender stanza:
Still, I’ll press this pummeled flower into a book
you sent, soak my foot, tweeze the thorns away,
and study the grime on my jeans while thinking
your name. It’s all the same: A lock of hair, a ring,
a song or stained pants. Laundry leaves its mark.
Victoria poet Wendy Donawa’s “The Erotics of Onions” takes its cue from Lorna Crozier’s The Sex Life of Vegetables but takes this eccentric topic in a new direction. Starting with a woman’s magazine at the dentist’s office, the poem tracks fridge cleaning and curry making, effortlessly transforming the mundane into the beautiful. And, it made me hungry:
Halfway through the wine now, so
add a generous splash, and how
it permeates, how limp and sinuous the onion milieu
awaiting grated gingerroot, crunched cardamom,
a stick of cinnamon, a mortar full
of coriander, little dusty pods
I gathered last summer. And
an apotheosis of prawns, plump and gleaming,
swelling pink and crimson.
O, O, O.
My favourite pieces from this issue were definitely Vancouver writer Alex Leslie’s series of unsent love letters with strategically blotted out words. This peculiar strategy manages to increase the wonder and sexiness of early love/lust by leaving those crucial details to the imagination; sometimes you can guess what comes between the words you can read (for example: “bluest ———- seen” seems likely to be “bluest eyes I have ever seen”–but couldn’t it be something else?). It’s amazing, actually, how much of a narrative you can construct with so many of the words blanked out; it’s an exercise in imaginative, interactive reading with such sexy, juicy sentences as: “I——-her—–breast.” Isn’t it more fun to fill in the gaps with your own sexy ideas? It’s like the most ideal erotica, because you can really make it exactly what turns you on. It’s like choose your own adventure lesbian erotica!
Fellow west coast writer Ali Blythe’s brilliant and heart-breaking poem “Hotel Window” is a close second for my favourite in this issue. It chronicles the events inside a hotel the speaker has built inside her head. Why? Because
Each time you leave me
I never know if you are
moving into my future
or my past. So I pour
myself into a drink or
someone else and travel
to the hotel I’ve built
in the back of my mind
I’m so grateful that Plenitude is around to introduce me to so many queer writers I otherwise would never have heard about. Now that I’ve told you all about issue two, why don’t you get yourself a copy of issue three right now? And while you’re at it, get excited about Plenitude editor and found Andrea Routley’s brand new collection of short stories Jane and the Whales (review coming soon!).