Shot Glass Journal #1

Sometimes you’re not in the mood for a three-course meal, sometimes you just want a shot of something invigorating, if so, Shot Glass Journal might just hit the spot. Shot Glass Journal is a new online literary magazine specializing in short poetry (16 lines or less). Edited by Mary-Jane Grandinetti, the idea for the journal came from the many short poetry workshops she has led.

I often think of first issues as similar to TV show pilots: not always indicative of the quality of the following episodes but at their best emitting a promising flavour. Shot Glass Journal is no different with a mixture of hard-hitting and more disappointing poems.

Shot Glass Journal features several excellent poems that make over-used poetry genres seem fresh. There is Austin Alexis’ ‘Merce Cunningham Event’ who manages the feat of avoiding the usual dance clichés (if I read one more mention of ‘pirouettes’ and ‘jetés’…) and to capture what I’ve always found to be a particularly difficult experience to relate. Likewise Hank Kalet’s poem ‘Jazz’ manages an original take on the well-worn genre of love poetry:

‘Love is the lasting
resonating note
the high E picked and
held and
bent higher and
higher still’

On the other hand,  Steadman Kondor’s ‘For she is Paris’ fails to dwell further than the postcard picture of Paris:

‘She might toss you a Niçoise salad or seduce you with pâté de foie gras.’

Several poems in Shot Glass Journal delight in exploring the darker side of human nature. Gil Fagiani in ‘Dopefiend Hustle # 132: Playing The Christers’ reminds us that poetry doesn’t always have to be about the good guys with this amusing tale of exploited credulity.  Ruth Holzer‘s ‘Elderly Couple On Park Bench, N.Y.C’ (based on a Diane Arbus photograph) recreates the spiteful interior monologue of a clashing elderly couple. Meanwhile Rachel Green plays with death in ‘The Musician at the End of the Cemetery’, a deliciously macabre sensory experience:

‘she tunes the dead:
cadaver skin stretched taut
in chromatic scales of putrefaction’

Shot Glass Journal features an abundant array of forms including a triolet, a sonnet, a rondolet and some tankas, but my favourite of these form-players is Sir John Lambremont’s ‘Locked Lavatory’. Lambremont’s doesn’t adhere to a strict form but he masters rhymes (both internal and external) dexterously and unleashes them to accentuate the distress of being locked in a lavatory.

Shot Glass Journal is easy to circulate through but would benefit, in my opinion, from having a different table of content format than an alphabetical list that privileges the authors closer to the top of the list (or those well-known). A different format would be more democratic.

Overall, this is a journal that shows potential and is worth keeping an eye on as it develops in the coming years.

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