Volume 103, Number 1/2
|I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty
to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought
to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural
history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce,
and agriculture, in order to give their children a right
to study painting, poetry, music, architecture….
–John Adams (May 1780)
As our cover photo suggests, American schools offered lessons in citizenship to children on the home front during World War II. Conserving materials gained notable, if temporary, prominence as a practical—and practicable—course of action. It was every American’s responsibility to salvage, reuse, recycle: nylon and silk for parachutes; fats and cooking oil for explosives; rags to clean machinery or swab the decks of Navy ships. SCRAP FOR VICTORY!
We like to imagine ourselves musing in the back of this classroom with our newly sharpened number-two pencils, copying words from the board in a childish scrawl, fashioning a found poem:
And what’s she writing now? IRON, of course, though IRONY would make an intriguing addition to this list.
Sixty-five years later, and five years into a different war, one might ask what kind of education serves a future writer best—within and beyond the classroom. Isn’t every field of inquiry of possible interest? In this issue of Poet Lore, children learn from one another (in Rose Black’s “Shadows” and Iain Haley Pollock’s “The Recessive Gene”) as often as they learn from adults (“Tutoring the Failed” by Gary Fincke and “Write Like This” by Rebecca Cook)—but the most valuable lessons are self-taught. As Brian Simoneau writes in “After a Student Prefaces Her Question About a Poem”:
I taught myself to sing in filth, foot tapping in time
with ticking generators, dripping faucets. Cooling
engines, pounding hammers…
…a very American education–and one we encounter again in the poems of this issue’s feature writer, Caleb Barber, who works in an aerospace machine shop in Washington State.
Rubber. Metal. Fats. Rags. Iron. War. Truth…or, in the final words of our opening poem, “The Hindenburg” by James Doyle: “history’s debris, story after story.” Welcome to the latest volume of Poet Lore and a second century of new writing.
Poems by Pablo Medina, Joseph Ross, Kyle G. Dargan, Richard Spilman, Karina Borowicz, Rose Solari, and others.
Midwest Eclogue by David Baker
The Lyrics by Fanny Howe
Bending Under the Yellow Police Tapes by James Doyle
The Resurrection Trade by Leslie Adrienne Miller