The study of process aspect was, at times, quite fascinating and provided greater context to some pieces that either confirmed or clarified my thoughts, or helped me understand more about pieces I didn’t quite grasp the meaning or intention of. In the case of pieces such as Bark On and the poems of Margaret Yapps the fact that they were extracts of larger works explained to me why I felt they were incomplete.
Like the best anthologies, Admissions is a fluid collection where the different genres, explorations and styles of creativity inform one another, creating a montage that is inherently collective. This ‘radical empathy’ that Stavinger talks about is present throughout the book, as the different forms of pain and struggle sit together in solidarity like a supportive scaffold so that in the reading the separation between the different experiences becomes diminished and there is a sense that every perspective fits and is important.
The richness and variety of topics and styles is impressive. Many of the stories in the poems tell us about the strength of women and their struggle to survive in a male dominated world. Reading page by page we go through women’s lives, from the quotidian to the extraordinary, from the intimate to the distant, from the general to the particular.
All of the pieces are powerful, richly depicted, allowing the reader access to the very core of transition. Kofman has a well-tuned sense of what works together and the pieces flow together perfectly, each essay informing the work that surrounds it, so that the overall book feels interlinked. It makes for engaging reading that is emotionally powerful throughout.
Editor Cherry Potts created a masterful work of art with this anthology, intricately combining poetry, short stories and flash fiction that spans a variety of themes. In all of the works, the writing is accessible, yet beautiful. The otherworldliness of spiders brings about bewitching language in almost all of the entries.
There is so much to explore in this wonderful collection: work that stretches the imagination, plays with language, time, and space in order to explore human endeavour, both scientific and artistic – and in many cases the distinction becomes blurred. Strange and Munden have done an exceptional job choosing and structuring poems.
The stories, poems and essays of this book’s authors are courageous, refreshing and from the heart. We identify and are not strangers to their pain, love, joy, and their uncompromising outcries for justice. They address immigration, brokenness and the turbulent political and social climate we live under today. There are attempts by authors to fill wells of understanding.
At the end of “Turtle Island Turtle Rattle”, author Sarah Xerar Murphy writes, “If we cannot find a way to welcome and treat fairly with the stranger, how will we ever find our own way home?”It would be a good thing if there were more books like Three Nations Anthology, to highlight things that human beings have in common
“Night Drive” by Rubem Fonseca of Brazil is a Stephen Kingish story that shows the Mr. Hyde side of a seemingly benign Dr. Jekyll. Another story that I admire, “The Snake” by Eric Rugara of Kenya, is, on the surface, a picture of family cooperation to band together promptly to rid their home of a snake. It may also be a metaphor for the power of united action against any creeping threat. With eighty-six stories to choose from it is easy for a reader to find something s/he likes in this collection.
According to the Introduction, I Let Go includes “some of the most experimental poems” that the editors have ever included in an anthology. In some, “the writers let go of more than just stars.” Poets Zev Torres “Jamnation” and Stephen Mead “Researching Plague” have created poems which do not lend themselves to being performed aloud; their cleverness is best appreciated on the printed page. Kit Kennedy’s “Fog Descends: I Walk into a Koan,” consisting of cryptic proverbs, and ending with “How many crows inhabit an imaginary tree?” provides food for meditation.