At the age of five, poet Stephanie Strickland
and her sister received a book from their grandmother that included a poem by John Farrar called "Serious Omission."
I know that there are dragons
St. George's, Jason's, too,
And many modern dragons
With scales of green and blue;
But though I've been there many times
And carefully looked through,
I cannot find a dragon
In the cages at the zoo!
The poem stayed with Strickland. "What is the serious omission?" she asks. "To not be able to find that dragon? To fail to discriminate the hugely many implicate orders of life?"
These questions, not to mention dragons themselves, drive Strickland's new book of poems, Dragon Logic
(Ahsahta Press, 2013). Her fiercely intelligent and morally acute work captures e-dragons and sea dragons, as well as a beast she calls the "Hidden Dragon of Unstable Ruin." The poems even offer "Dragon Maps," that take "catastrophic forms and safepaths," finding and figuring their way through the physical, mechanical, virtual, mythical, chimerical, and hypothetical environments we now inhabit.
And if you find yourself wondering just what a dragon is, that's the right question. "Dragons are mythical and abstract," explains Strickland, "mythic embodiments of abstract power, from the snake in Eden, to devouring sea monsters, to the latest special FX apocalyptic creation from Hollywood. The dragon hunt that matters for me is tracking the beast as it slips, dizzyingly, from real to configurational (electronically generated) space, always aware that where we live, in either case, is the belly of this beast."
*Photograph courtesy of Star Black (copyright).