The Best of The Melic Review, edited by C.E. Chaffin
Warner Books, 2001 (ISBN pending)
What can I say about this collection that can summarize the eclectic mix scattered throughout its 275 pages. This volume, as the titles suggests, is packed with poetry and prose covering three years of the well-read online literary journal, The Melic Review. It takes the online journal into new terrain with its first journey into the print medium.
The Best of The Melic Review features many familiar names to those of us who regularly read online journals, including several with appearances here in The Adirondack Review: Teresa White, C.J. Sage, and Jennifer Poteet. Included also are poets whose works have appeared in many of the smaller print journals as far as back as I can recall, including among them, Arlene Ang, R.L. Swihart, and Holly Day.
Of course, the things so remarkable about The Best of The Melic Review are also its greatest weaknesses: the diverse styles and talents included. As with most online journals, especially in their early years, sometimes the writing falls flat. While some of these poems easilly could appear in larger, well-known print journals, many others would be reserved exclusively for the pages of local newspapers columns. Several of the poems in this volume are dead on arrival, including a handful of traditional rhymed sonnets that are so generic they might have been put together by a computer program only to hack into the magazine and post themselves on the web.
That said, much more good exists in The Best of The Melic Review than bad. "Aubade" and "After-Life" by Sharon Kourous are gems, as are Julie Damerell's "Green is Not Enough," C.J. Sage's "How to Tell a God," Taylor Graham's "Rainbow," and "Lessons," by Kathleen Carbone Chaffin.
Recommendation: This is an attractive paperback with avocado trim, bold black text, and a blue god looking down from above. It would make a good volume situated on a shelf. Nonetheless, the book's $17.00 price tag makes it hard for me to urge anyone to buy the book. So my recommendation is to read through some of the archives at The Melic Review to get a feel for what the book offers. Then, while there, order the book if the urge comes.