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Editor's Note

James R. Adair

“Poem: The work of a poet; a metrical composition” (Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, 1766).

“Poem: A metrical composition; a composition in which the verses consist of certain measures, whether in blank verse or in rhyme” (Noah Webster’s Dictionary, 1828).

“Painting: The art of representing objects by delineation and colours” (Johnson’s Dictionary, 1766).

Most people today would dispute these rather quaint definitions of poem and painting by the preeminent lexicographers of a bygone era. Poems no longer need be metrical, nor does a painting necessarily represent objects. The tastes and preferences of modern poets and artists have moved beyond the constraints of early modern dictionaries. A poem may be difficult to define, but most people would claim the ability to distinguish poetry from prose, or at the very least, to distinguish poetry from a painting.

But look at the cover of this issue. Is it art or poetry? The answer is that it is neither, and both. Octavio Quintanilla has joined the two genres to create a form that is more than a simple combination of the two. Similarly, art song (see the featured interview with Ruth Friedberg on p. 6) combines poetry and music to produce a blended genre that is something more than just lyrics set to a catchy tune.

In this issue we feature the artistic creations of many authors whose work extends beyond the dictionary definitions of a single genre, bending it or blending it with other genres in unexpected ways to produce art, literature, music—it’s often hard to put a finger on exactly what to call it—that captures the imagination and expands the mind.

Our featured poet, Kristine Snodgrass, provides several examples of asemic writing, work that at first glance appears to be writing but actually includes no semantic content. This approach to visual poetry dates back to the late 1990s, but it has grown more popular in the early decades of the twenty-first century. These pieces are the first samples of asemic writing ever included in Voices de la Luna.

We also include examples of calligrams, poems or short prose that are presented on the page or screen in a way that evokes in the reader’s mind the content of the writing. Some of our pieces push the boundary between prose and poetry—is it free verse or elevated prose? You decide! Also included is an example of hyperlinked writing, a style that many assume originated with the advent of the World Wide Web in 1990 but can actually be traced to medieval Jewish rabbis who created the Talmuds (see the back page for more info). Poems mixed with paintings also grace our pages, as does a section from a famous example of genre blending, the medieval Bayeux Tapestry, which both tells and depicts the story of the Norman Conquest of England by William the Conquerer. Fun fact: despite its name, it’s an embroidery, not a tapestry! Finally, we present four pantoums, a Malaysian poetic form rarely seen in the wild.

Join us on our genre-bending ride through the November issue of Voices de la Luna!


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Themes for future issues
February 2020: Earth Day
May 2020: Food and the Arts

Current Voices



Kristine Snodgrass



That Final Time

Betsy Joseph

Until I kissed you that final time my lips touching lightly upon your moist skin, I must have forgotten the rhythm and rhyme in the decoupaged places where I once had been. My lips touching lightly upon your moist skin releasing stark tales that became my whole life in the decoupaged places where I once had been, lying in slivers as if sliced by a knife. Releasing stark tales that became my whole life— a balance of triumphs and varied regrets— lying in slivers as if sliced by a knife I took too few chances, hedged too many bets. A balance of triumphs and varied regrets nail me to life as if on a cross. I took too few chances, hedged too many bets; I spent far too much time focused insanely on loss. Nail me to life as if on a cross— I must have forgotten the rhythm and rhyme. I spent far too much time focused insanely on loss until I kissed you that final time.



Vienna, Austria



The Day You Were Born All the Flowers Were Born

Matthew Tavares

You spoke the language of god first, I waited and listened intently though, I could not understand. It’s been too long since I’ve spoken it myself. You spoke the language of Ciudad Juárez second, I moved in with your mother’s mother and surrounded myself with the language of your mother’s father, las palabras de amor. Now you speak the language of my father, with echoes of the divine and hints of Juárez. Every word that drifts out of your mouth is like a poem by Neruda, read aloud simultaneously en ingles y español. When you sing, it reminds me of my mother’s father, singing to me, every birthday the song of his ancestors. El día en que tu naciste, nacieron todas las flores.


Octavio Quintanilla



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