The title Fixed and Free Quarterly may not reveal much about its contents.
But know this: It spills over with a cornucopia of poetry. Fifty-nine poets – the majority from New Mexico – contributed the 112 poems that spice up the third and most recent issue of the quarterly’s volume one.
The poems are of varied lengths, moods and subjects.
In “A litany of blooms,” Josephine LoRe fills the reader’s eyes and ears with a garden full of flowers’ common and Latin names.
Kate Marco of Taos writes in a lyrical stream over three pages about mortality in “lean out.”
In “Advice for Women Living in the Land of Illegal Abortions,” Albuquerque’s Marilyn O’Leary punches out this warning, “First of all, don’t get raped.”
Poet Charles Powell declares openly in “Crying Man” that he’s not afraid to cry whether he’s depressed or happy, in pain or in love. Or some other deeply felt emotion.
Rae Marie Taylor finds innumerable ways we can say farewell in “The Good-bye Poem.”
Martina McGowan doesn’t refer to the Ukraine War by name in “Echolalia,” but the reader senses it. She writes, “Rumors of a new war between someone and someone else.”
In “The Polar Bear Speaks Last,” Janet Ruth of Albuquerque paints a palpable prediction of the death of the natural world along with the death of humanity.
Vijali Hamilton writes a cautionary poem called “Time is Running Out.” Billy Brown, the quarterly’s editor and publisher, set the poem to music and slightly altered the poem’s title. His sheet music appears on the page facing the poem.
Brown – he is also a poet – said all of his poetry activities are in memory of his daughter, Elizabeth Ann, who died in a car crash in 1996 when she was 18.
“I hated poetry for 35 years before then. I had a bad experience in high school with poetry,” Brown said. “After she died I wrote poetry to process my grief. I would go so far as to say that poetry has vastly enriched my life, giving me a life of joy and not a life of grief as it was for a few years.”
He read at public poetry readings and enjoyed observing other poets’ expressing their feelings. When a main poetry-reading venue in Albuquerque closed, Brown started Fixed and Free readings in 2008. He’s still organizing readings 11 months each year. “They’re such a joyful activity for me,” Brown said.
Three years later he began publishing a set of poetry anthologies. In their place, Brown is now publishing the Fixed and Free Quarterly.
“Reading the poems, editing, all that stuff I just love doing,” he said.
Besides the individual poems, the quarterly also has a section of reviews of poetry books. At the very back of the publication is a calendar of upcoming poetry events sponsored by organizations around New Mexico.
To find out more about Fixed and Free readings, to obtain copies of the quarterly, and to learn how poems are included in its issues, contact Brown via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 505-401-8139.
Two Fixed and Free poetry events via Zoom are scheduled for October. The first is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 with Gayle Lauradunn reading from her new book “The Geography of Absence.” The other is at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27 with readings by Don McIver, Georgia Santa Maria and Jared Smith, plus an open mic. Those wishing to participate in the Zoom events can email Brown for links.
In his introduction to issue three of the quarterly, Brown writes that Fixed and Free also celebrates visual artists. Albuquerque artist/poet/muralist Denise Weaver Ross provided a painting for each cover of the first four issues of the 2022 Quarterly. The paintings are from her “House of Cards” series.
When the indefatigable Brown is not busy with Fixed and Free activities, he sings in choral ensembles, and this semester he is teaching a statistics class at the University of New Mexico.