The aim of this anthology is to promote the connection between humans and marine animals, and to highlight the variety of marine animals. The anthology’s introduction states, “[We] were motivated by the urge to celebrate the exhilarating variety of ocean wildlife….while also bearing witness to the shattering reality of their plunging numbers.”
I found the poems in the anthology to spend a lot of time on the latter: explaining to me this animal or that but saying little more than “here’s an animal.” Notable works which break that mold include
- Meg Files’ “Penguin Parade”, for going somewhere unexpected
- Christina Lloyd’s “Car Wash”, for starting somewhere unexpected
- Beth McDonough’s “Flatly”
- Kathy Miles’ “Hydromedusa”, for its turn
Given my interest in poetry which uses devices such as assonance, consonance, repetition, and rhyme, I paid close attention to the form of the anthology’s poems. In the majority, they are free verse which does not utilize these sonic devices. The main exception is Andy Brown’s wonderfully musical “Oyster Shells”. Kathleen Jones moves her “Whale Fall” in the directional of musicality through her use of assonance. And Sharon Larkin’s “View from the Benthos” makes its own music through scientific jargon; a real treat.
Two other poems stood out to me. Donna J. Gelagotis Lee’s “Fishing for an Octopus” is one of the few poems that actually comments on human-animal interactions and does it superbly and with a dark twist. Bryce Emley’s “To the Bumblebee Who Landed On My Stomach At High Tide” got my attention for the amazing sentiment in its first line and for stretching the definition of “marine animal” in a way no other included poem did.
While I find myself very much agreeing with the editor’s motivation, less than a quarter of the poems exhibited, to me, the exhilarating variety of musical device.