In Like Company: The Salt River Review & Porch Anthology, edited by James Cervantes, is equal parts reminiscent and refreshing measured over the course of thirty plus years of poetry and fiction.
For longtime readers of the former print journal Porch (1977-1981), and its later online counterpart the Salt River Review (1997-2010), this collection serves as a spring well of memories, eliciting fond recollections of such things as “The shared silence / in the land of ants. / The sleep of lizards / that never hear the bell. / Talk of fish / about things liquid. / Stories of the spider / at war with the mosquitoes” (9).
For newcomers, like myself, the collection reads like a Greatest Hits compilation of some of America’s best contemporary poets and writers without the sentimentality or datedness found in most other anthologies. Works like Pamela Alexander’s “Who Stayed,” Cynthia Hogue’s “the good,” and Sam Pereira’s “The Blue Scent of Juniper” are as fresh and exciting now as they were when once written.
And while it’s easy to look at this collection as a Who’s Who of contemporary poetry, especially with such names as Rubén Darío, Norman Dubie, Jim Heavily, Frederico García Lorca, and Pablo Neruda, you cannot underestimate the power of each individual voice:
If this girl
is the cause of my ecstasy and distress—
who built her like a nest of all the skies
that the bird in my heart
wants to fly in? (Ankur Betageri, 21)
And though labeled an anthology, In Like Company is more a reunion of old friends retelling new stories, their youth eagerly listening with bated breath.
Reviewer: Ernesto L. Abeytia is a Teaching Associate in Arizona State University’s Department of English and a poet in ASU’s Creative Writing Program. He holds a Master of Arts in English from Saint Louis University and a Master of Arts in Anglo/North-American Cultural and Literary Studies from the Autonomous University of Madrid. His research focuses on early 20th century literature and poetry, robots, and superheroes. Travel, diaspora, and Spanish culture are common themes in his poetry.