Turn of the century; end of the millennium

A look back at 'Jacket' in 1999

1999 was a great year for Jacket poets, even if it was a bit of a wild year outside. Some sectors speculated that the Y2K bug would spell the end of the Internet — and the end of Jacket by default — but more than that, the last year of the millennium was a time for reflection. It evoked a sense of nostalgia and a near-obligatory need to look back at the figurative footsteps in the sand. Jacket published issues 6–9 that year (January, April, July, and October), so why not take a moment to look back at the poets who were likewise looking back? Here is a selection of poems from Jacket 1999 all dealing with themes of time, history, and introspection. Douglas Rothchild’s two poems from issue 6, “Why I am not a painter” and “Call to prayer,” delve into turning away and chugging along with a better knowledge of yourself. In issue 7, Hazel Smith published “Returning the Angles,” a long poem of prose and verse. The variation in form creates a fascinating reading experience dedicated to the process of departure and return. We find David Lehman’s “One day at a time” in issue 8. This poem carries an air of resignation: the past is behind, and you stand where you are because you walked here yesterday. Finally, Ralph Monday appears in Jacket’s last issue of the twentieth century with his “After Awhile,” a poem of inevitability.