Karen Terrey, second from right, a writing coach, editor and poet from Truckee, California, attends a recent Thompson Peak Writers Workshop hosted by Janesville poet Dianna Henning.

Henning poem published in California Quarterly

“Window Magic,” poem written by Janesville poet Dianna Henning, the facilitator of the Thompson Peak Writers Workshop, appears in the Autumn 2023 edition of California Quarterly, published by the California State Poetry Society, edited by Nicholas Skaldetvind.In an editor’s note, Skaldetvind expresses his intentions in editing the journal, and even praises Henning’s poem.

According to Skaldetvind, “I’ve set out to present an example of poets’ vertical investigations abstracting from the muck and confusing murk a clattering of time, of place, of history, making the reader giddy with notions of the numinous, names, theories, dreams, dates, legends.  A good poem rewards this kind of looking.  These poets place themselves at the center of all time in that self-perpetuating way great mythic-figures have always done without border, age, limit and within a labyrinthine wonder.  Fresh and clean verse, pure and naked of pretense, as the wild waters and unmoored light which bathes the Ionian Islands’ and California’s dazzling coast alike.

“The content of these featured poems possesses an intimate quality veering towards a self-involved disposition bordering on narcissism or, in a better-fitting locution of our time, an encroachment on the autism spectrum.  The inherent lyrical structure bestowed upon these works imparts a sense of coherence and unity, steering the reader to believe this was a preconceived notion of collaboration.

Dianna Henning. File photo

“Seekers of light and truth go beyond the California world.  They’ve roused me from a bedazzled stupor marked by a sense of inner-defeatism characterizing the better part of the last three months as I scoured after the alchemical “what” of the submitted poems, how to articulate my rationale in selecting a poem and then to sequence the thing.  Rather than “editor” I began to consider myself auditor of the human experience.  The principal reason they’ve been selected is pleasure.  As Peter Gizzi stated elsewhere about editing o•blék: a journal of language arts, “the discourse around poetics comes second; the poem has to lead.”  Each of these poems is its own incarnate statements of poetics.

“The reward is this terrific group singing the relationship they share with the world.  Certain poets have widened my eyes with their singing: Dianna MacKinnon Henning, Jim Dunn, Karla Kelsey, John James, Susie Meserve, Charles Rafferty, Paul Schreiber.  Songs in which there is the recognizable sound of a human voice inducing you to continue reading.  I will also wager that if you are like me, you turn to poetry as a means of revealing that which pertains to yourself, for the possibility that another poet out there will open a window for you that you didn’t before trust was there.  Faith.

“Believing in magic in the sequence of poems, I was made aware of the reconciliation of one poet’s words weaving with another’s in sympathetic magic in the loose form of journey as they progress.  My aim has been to sequence them into a shape of communal feeling.  And, as with any decent anthology, you are able to open at random and Dame Fortune will enfold you in the language’s sheer beauty of resonance.

“Thanks to the poets for offering such a rich assortment of verse.”