Phillip Bannowsky



Steven Leech

Franetta McMillian

Douglas Morea


A big thank you to all our contributors


Cover art by Douglas Morea


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words to the wise ... we are most interested in high

quality prose: fiction/ creative non-fiction, essays and

literary criticism. For guidelines send SASE to:






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Palingenesis: the latest First State Writers Re-borning

by Phil Bannowsky


Palingenesis is the latest product of Delaware's First State Writers. Edited by Beverly Andrus and illustrated by past Poet Laureate e. jean lanyon, the small anthology features several writers familiar to Delaware literary audiences.


e. jean lanyon, who has lead First State Writer's poetry circle for decades, contributes several poems, rendered in her contemplative, woman stone style. In "dry spell," the word "passages" artfully evinces the figure of the printed page to reconcile creativity with periods of dearth:


there are passages of my life

that require silences.

require a soft white space,

soothing the part of my brain

that makes words sing,

or cry, or shout, or whisper.


Post modern and feminist critics have noted how women have traditionally operated in the silences, doing much of the creative work of culture unsung. Such critics have even compared women's traditional roles to the blank spaces on the printed page or‑to get real "Po‑Mo"‑to the value‑delimiting "differences" between linguistic or cultural units of meaning. Lanyon's work often champions the experience of womankind, liberating it from background and margin and placing it foreground center. This poem could be read as a summary of this struggle, as well as of the struggle with creative dry spells.


Those who have witnessed Beverly Andrus's dramatic readings know how she seizes the center ground. Her poetry warns, bears witness, gets even at times, and rallies the troops. All these themes come together in her poem, "Call to The Poets," regarding the attacks of 9/11. Poets should write, she urges, not only of rage, fear, and loss, but of hope, the prayer for peace, and prophesy. "Choose," she enjoins the poets, to "use your craft/We can save the world. And we should./And we will/Poets†† write the history††††††††††††††††† where you were that day¼"


John P. Daley loves the traditional tools poets use to contemplate landscapes, love, and philosophy: rhyme, imagery, and the well-crafted metaphor. In "Nightfall In The Suburbs In Summer" there is a touch of Donne and Blake in Daley's suburban trees at dusk:


A ragged line along the sky

That stills the night of city's hums.


The regal forms stand there like stairs For stars that wake and leave their rooms, Awakened from a nodding day

To walk upon nocturnal blooms.


Here attention to form yields a delightful paradox of waking stars and "nocturnal blooms."


Like Daley, Francis Kessner knows how to work a metaphor and invite us to gaze and marvel. In "Fickle Weather, her "eyes trace the sweeping incline of mountains" where "Fluffy white sheep circle summits" and "While the sun plays peek-a-boo,/Grinning, black sheep move in." Kessner's "Over and Beyond" reminds me of both Mother Goose and A. E. Houseman's Shropshire Lad.



William F. Manchester's contemplations are darker, yearning for endurance. In his "Time Cancer," for example, he compares the dust that settles on his television screen to


Dying seconds of time,

Falling into the discarded accumulations

Of thousands of days long since passed.


Orion looks in my window,

Pointing the way to freedom,

Urging me to be warrior-strong.


In "True Love," Manchester evokes the pathos of the imprisoned with his eroticized image of a rare prison yard tree who "shed[s] her leaves/in shameless immodesty," who is planted "[w1here few can see her, and none can touch her," and of whom the poet/prisoner says,


I feel her loneliness reach out to embrace me

As I watch her suffering,

knowing in my heart that when I leave,

No one will ever love her as I do.


Those who have heard Robert Reynolds's sensuous lyric readings will find him equally melodious on the page. He has a gift for alternating rhythms so that his images roll and halt with the sense, almost as in a classical Greek elegy. In "On the Streets," Reynolds combines his doleful rhythms with a striking image of an inanimate witness to suggest the desolation of those who gather during what he calls "neon nightfall":


On the corner are whispered secrets,

Whispered with a jaded grin,

Secrets kept perhaps alone by the stilted mannequin

That hangs out in the glass display

Unflinching in her reserve,

She oversees the oil slick patterns

Lying iridescent on the curb.


The abundance of poetry in Palingenesis is balanced by two prose selections. In "Princess," Rhonda S. Davis demonstrates how we cat people personify our kitties. In "Master's Bidding" by Hope Lingers, what begins as a morality tale out of the mold of Everyman or Pilgrimís Progress evolves into a shocking psychological drama.


I once heard it said (by A. E. Houseman, I think) that the test of great poetry was when it made your whiskers bristle so you could cleave them easily with a razor. It could be a response to horror, pleasure, shock, or something sublimely indescribable. I would give the bristling prize in Palingenesis to Toni Cooper. Her "Time Capsule," for example, wonderfully describes the ties that bind all women. She begins with the physical:


Only Women know these knotted chains

Of umbilical cords that travel

Back to the very dawn of time,


She continues with the political:


We Women were the "Mules of the World,"

Sometimes exonerated if bequeathed with

Profound beauty and vaginal superiority,


And she realizes the spiritual:


Inside these tunnels, we drank the milk of our

Mothers' mothers, our antiquity sutured by the

Doting needles of instinct.


In "Sun Catcher" and "A Reasonable Explanation," Cooper plumbs the memory of slave times to illuminate its reach into modern relationships, in a manner reminiscent of Toni Morrison's Beloved.


Cooper's "Street Man" expands some of the imagery of "Time Capsule" to explore boldly the sexuality of a (sic) mature women:


Some older women, by necessity,

Cling to their fantasies,

Regurgitating whatever memory

Can be milked from the deflated breasts

Of their scant existence.


I will leave it to the reader to obtain a copy of Palingenesis to learn how the Street Man haunts this woman's dreams. The fellows will shave easily, if uneasily.


Order your copy from First State Writers, 8 Winston Ave., Wilmington, DE 19804 or e≠mail firststawriters@aol.com. $10 plus $1.50 handling each.