Review: Labour of Love, Vol. 32

[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE]
Various Authors
Poetry, art, photographs
44 pages
ISSN 1192–621X
5” x 7 3/4” glossy chapbook
Labour of Love
47 Marcia Ave, Toronto, Ontario
Canada M6B 2Y6
Free, plus shipping
Review originally published on 7/30/09


From the onset, this magazine looks sleek and sexy, full-color with a vibrant cover picture bursting out of an all-black background, a bit more upscale, laid out on a computer, and printed with an actual printer, not photocopied. Very classy. The margins are tweaked from page to page to fit each poem on a full page to the best of the editor’s ability; and the font is the same for each poem, except for two, which can look a little strange continuity-wise, but is probably only noticed by the uber-obsessive-compulsive, and doesn’t really matter, either way. The litzine is nicely chock-full of names that are not littering every small press magazine from here to Timbuktu, which is refreshing, and an overwhelming majority of the writing stems from female poets, which is almost unheard-of in the small press — I know from my own publishing experience that the male submissions I get outweigh the female submissions probably five-to-one. Kudos for the abundance of ladies, and again, very refreshing.

The poems are mostly very light, dream-like, mythological, heightened, highly poetic, more traditional-style, seemingly not from younger poets, but from a more mature voice, maybe even slightly academic, which is not to sound negative, just more suitable for an older, more poetic audience — harking back to Yeats, Thomas, Owen, Henley, Hughes, Auden; and less Kerouac or Carroll — even including a poem by editor Norman Cristofoli written in French and a poem by Bradley Eberhard Hiller that is almost sestina/villanelle-like.

Some examples of the more heightened poetic language, to give you an idea of how I am using the term:

From “When I do without” by Jude Dillon:

[ … ]
As the green river swallows light
Through a brown orchard of apple trees
Smallish rain to we few who listen in;
[ … ].

From “Metaphysically Speaking” by Laurell Weiman:

[ … ]
I won’t forget the fact, that from light
was born darkness,
and the purpose of light shining
is,
to alight the darkness of darkness.

From “Shadow Sister” by Jewel MoonSilver Knight:

[ … ] and when
I do I will stretch myself upon the dark
wings of Night and read the scroll of Stars,
[ … ]
[ … ] naked as every liberated raven
that flies toward the Midnight Sun [ … ].

From “[Hades Resuscitated]” by Ann Long (Poetcatt):

[ … ]
And I will Stand Before you, Shapeshifter
Incline my Throat
Open my Palms
the Rapture that Contains the
Aria Within
[ … ].

From “Where Willows Weep” by Margaret Boles:

[ … ]
I can scarce remember
What the content
I only know I’d written a poem
About where willows weep.

There is, of course, the occasional shocker, and it sticks out how different it seems from the rest of the flow, but the change is a welcome sign of how diverse and open the small press is and has always been. The sudden interjection of foul language, amid poems of nature or starry skies, always leaves me with a sense of fulfillment, that the small press isn’t afraid to come right out and say it, the opposite of the squeaky clean mainstream not wanting to offend with dirt under the nails or a less-than-perfect manicure.

From “For the Love of Orange” by Ann Long (Poetcatt):

[ … ]
Juice stained fingers as I
slice/dice/squeeze
and I
I’ll have your cock
The way I drink my Gin
Straight up with
A twist of Lime
[ … ].

From “Doddsynian Journey” by Cathy Petch:

[ … ]
I’ve crawled in next to you
a few times now
and always felt like a sister
who still wanted to fuck you.
[ … ]
I imagine shitting
on your perfect chest
then writing “Cathy and Jeramy
100% true love”
and then smearing it all over the windows,
so it will make the room look
like some war-torn Ukrainian hovel
Where we are hiding
from American Flyboys
who are raping and pillaging
their way to us.

There are a few technical mishaps in this issue, mostly in the formatting, probably from electronic submissions being changed over to different software or pulled from online blogs and web-formatting into word processor software, which brings about some dashed lines mixed in with the solid lines; half of the apostrophes in “smart quote” style, while half remain straight lines; the occasional two spaces where there should be one; and a couple of spelling errors: seaguls, he instead of her, shinning instead of shining. Nothing serious, all can be overlooked and might even be the flaws of the authors and their submissions, but as an editor myself, I always look for attention to the tiniest of details. What can I say? I’m a tough editor.

All in all, excellent and beautiful publication with clearly a lot of hard work and thought put into it — a book in which one would be proud to have poems published. The book is free, which is absolutely amazing, but be sure to include enough to get the package across international borders, if you are ordering from my section of the world.