Gezelligheid 1: Kyla Sterling’s “Culling the Flock”

“Culling the Flock” by Kyla Sterling, published in Issue 11 of Radar Poetry.

http://www.radarpoetry.com/culling-the-flock

Radar Poetry is one of those journals I know I can trust. Issue after issue, the poems they present never cease to give me pause – and Kyla Sterling’s “Culling the Flock” gave me major pause.

Once I thought I’d leave this town.
I could carry all I owned but there wasn’t any where
to go—just a long dirt road. A highway.
Whatever happened, I like to think she got away.

It’s a poem that makes me think of my own childhood, growing up in a parsonage in rural north-central Wisconsin, and what I would be like today if my family hadn’t moved to a mid-sized city when I was eight. I learned to ride my bike on the gravel of the church parking lot. My knees bled for weeks.

It’s that kind of realism – going out to the chicken coop, dredging the pond for a missing girl, the inability to leave – that draws me into Sterling’s poem. It’s the kind of darkness that sits outside the door when your nearest neighbor is a half-a-mile down the road.

Gezelligheid: A Literary Spotlight

I’ve been thinking of doing something like this for a while, putting focus on a poem or story or essay in a recently-published literary magazine. An anthology of sorts, culling bits of contemporary literature that I love, promoting both their writers and their places of publication. It seems a manageable sort of project, a good goal for 2017.

So what I’m going to do is this: every Saturday, for the next 52 weeks, I’ll post a brief review of a literary item of note. Perhaps not so much a review as a “look here! I like this!” kind of acknowledgement of work out in the world.

Why gezelligheid? I’m a little bit Dutch, so I’m partial to this non-Norwegian version of hygge. Gezelligheid means comfort and togetherness, and I think that we are all in need of both. Literature is just one way we can come together.