Thursday, July 08, 2010
Blue Canary 17
Blue Canary 17, possibly the last issue of the Blue Canary, is out now. It is a tribute issue to James Liddy, the great Irish and Milwaukeean poet who died in late 2008. Editor Jeff Becker explains, partly humorously, that he published this issue for the fun of proving James wrong (James had told him, “When I’m gone, there won’t be any more Blue Canarys”). The front cover features a photo of Liddy (very similar to the one shown here) on Kilpatrick Strand, Co. Wexford, 1996. The back cover has one of him a child, circa 1944, and there are a couple other interesting photos in there as well. But of course it is the poetry and the prose reminiscences that make this essential for anyone who knew Liddy or who has read his work. The editor has arranged these pieces quite interestingly, I see, so that there seems to a progression or a linking of themes throughout the issue. For example, a poem by Liddy himself notes that “Jesus’s commands bring up the question: seduction and conversion merge” — and then several pages later in the magazine there is a cartoon by Bill Meyer depicting Jesus and James in bed together in heaven, post-coitus (yes, really). Fr. Ronald Crewe’s religiously-minded piece notes that Liddy, though a Catholic, “was not perfect,” and then immediately following is Paul Vogel’s portrait of Liddy’s less-than-perfect side (which I will only say is hilarious reading). It is editorial acumen like this that makes this Blue Canary so good. If it were merely a drab, respectful encomium, then it would really not do Liddy justice. (None of which is to say that any one contribution undermines the other, as Liddy was a multi-faceted person, as most of us are.) The journal, like James himself, will be missed. To obtain a copy, I recommend contacting Woodland Pattern Bookstore in Milwaukee.