By Colorado Review Associate Editor Susannah Lodge-Rigal
One of the joys of interning at Colorado Review is growing familiar with the poems and prose that fill the pages of the magazine—reveling at extraordinary writing as it’s attended to at every stage of the publishing process. It’s a lucky thing to hold a new, vibrantly covered issue—for Spring 2020, flamingos—knowing that the pages inside shine just as bright. As an MFA student in poetry, it has been a gift to spend time with the poems and poets included in Colorado Review. From reading the poetry queue to copyediting and proofreading, I’ve been fortunate to see several issues of the magazine come to fruition, growing my readership of poetry in exciting and unexpected ways.
The Spring 2020 issue of Colorado Review is jam-packed with words worth reveling over—prose and poetry that at many times caused me to pause in wonder, admiration, and, admittedly, envy (how did they do that?). In this week’s post, I’d like to give attention and praise to a poem in the spring issue that was a particular favorite of mine—Franco Paz’s “Taking a Break.”
“Do these buildings look tremulous?” Paz’s speaker asks. “No. Those are my shoulders.”
And so, we are introduced to Paz’s quiet and profound poetic logic, one that depicts the human form as permeable and in search of home. Image after image, “Taking a Break” renders the speaker’s body blurred into the structures of an outside world. Though the poem begins, “It does not matter at all,” I found myself convinced at every line that the voice at work here matters greatly—the speaker’s shoulders, quaking as buildings; at the speaker’s neck, a house that can “hold this life.” Paz’s triplets spill over with a distilled and inventive grace. As the speaker’s body “thaws” into structures, we see a human architecture windowed, vulnerable, and searching for breath. The title, “Taking a Break,” causes readers to pause—asking, perhaps, from what? I’d venture, Paz’s “break” is from the human body rendered discrete from the world around it. Paz offers, instead, a departure from that very separateness into a body made of world. A home inside and of our human bodies, one that can hold our breath—our very lives. Paz makes an architecture of us, asks us to swing the window—“lean out and breathe.”
Many thanks to Franco Paz for this beautiful poem and the opportunity to spend time reveling in it. Be sure to pick up the latest issue of Colorado Review to read Paz’s work and the many other phenomenal essays, stories, and poems that comprise our spring issue!