by Herbert Leibowitz
Each issue of Parnassus evolves and coheres at its own unpredictable pace. We commission essays and reviews from poets and critics whose minds are not already made up. We frown on puffery and snide ad hominem attacks that add nothing to what should be a civil, not bland, conversation about the merits of poet A’s elliptical style or the shortcomings of poet B’s fondness for sentence fragments. Readers may disagree with a reviewer’s judgments, but they should rightly expect rigorous analysis of specific poems and a tightly reasoned argument. To praise the disinterested mind is not to bar passion and sardonic humor or to invite a stuffy decorum into the review. We believe that the rich variety of the essays in Volume 33 will force readers to debate the reviewer and perhaps to reexamine and modify some of their most cherished ideas about the role content plays in determining a poem’s language and the ways syntax can derail a poem’s underlying—or lying—rhythms.
All of us at Parnassus are voluptuaries of fine prose. We do not impose a house style on our contributors; their stylistic quirks, the timbres of their voices, are welcomed as signs of original minds, which surprise us with a fact or anecdote, a perception or insight, that open up new channels of thought. This issue is a feast of witty, entertaining, and heartfelt prose. We have organized it into four thematically-linked parts. The poems are not dropped randomly into the table of contents. They play off, echo, question, and rebut what the essayists and reviewers say about science and poetry, Greek history and poetry, translations, and the discontent or allegiance experimental styles may generate. We offer the visitor to our website representative samples. We hope you will be enticed to subscribe and get to read everything you’re missing.