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From the Archives: FUSION #7

by Dan Froid

Now that fall is here—September 23 brought us the official fall equinox—and the leaves will soon turn colors and drop from the trees (maybe the only consolation for Nebraska winters), it’s the perfect time to revisit FUSION #7.

Each issue of FUSION, Prairie Schooner’s quarterly online publication, features poetry and essays from a different country, accompanied by poems from the Prairie Schooner archives. The seventh issue presents the work of Filipino poets, including Merlie Alunan and Marjorie Evasco, as well as work from the archives by Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Friman, and John Kinsella, among others. All of its poems center on trees. Kwame Dawes introduces the issue with the essay “Naming Trees”:

Alice Friman reminds us of the vanity in our relationship with trees—“they symbolize / nothing,” she says and she is both right and wrong. Trees, no doubt, care less how we represent them, and our efforts at granting them meaning are rooted in our own vanities as human beings—not capricious vanities, mind you, but certainly self-serving gestures that keep us nicely situated at the center of the universe. So, they symbolize nothing. But of course, they symbolize everything for us. We work at this. Their capacity to tower over us, to crowd our world, to become a part of our cycle of aging and dying, and their capacity to be missed on denuded and treeless spaces, makes them perfectly suited for our symbolizing impulse. It is inevitable that poets have some relationship with trees.

The poets in this issue of FUSION write of trees in swamps and in jungles; in November and in the springtime. Bleak old men and mothers and daughters are refigured as trees. We read about the birds that live in trees and the “branching out” of technology. Read poems from the issue here, and take comfort in the fact that the poems will remain online to enjoy even when the leaves are gone and we all curse the bitter coldness of winter weather.