If your interest is in the outdoors as well as the arts, something fresh and new, The Boardman Review is an excellent choice. Subtitled “the creative culture & outdoor lifestyle journal of northern Michigan,” this print and digital journal includes literature, music, lifestyle profiles, and documentaries that focus on the work and lives of creative people who express their love of the outdoors without trying to promote their talent. This last issue of 2018 provides a promise of even more fascinating work during the coming year.
All of the contributing artists understand the focus of the journal. Take for instance the work of Drew VanDrie: “Winter Stalk” is subtitled “Story and Images” because the narrative carries us through a winter hunt in the snow, and the narrative is reinforced by photographs that, even by themselves, draw the reader into the northern woods covered by the first snow. Unfortunately, I can’t show you the pictures here, but:
The first snow is important. This is not in reference to the perfunctory dusting of fallen leaves in late fall. The first snow was the encompassing deposit of lake effect that bundles in inches right on into feet. This snow slips in silent as a wraith and in the dark tumbles in waves. Over and over, it collapses in silence consuming all, concealed by the cloak of night. A quiet and sudden annexation.
This had been the first snow.
The most striking aspect in any issue of this new journal is the artwork that accompanies—and actually highlights—each piece. Whether it is photography or original paintings, the works in this issue attract attention so thoroughly that reading the accompanying literary pieces is both natural and mandatory. The combination not only highlights the work but also introduces us to the artists.
Katherine Corden displays her paintings in “Lake Lovers,” but goes on to write of how she has taken inspiration from the lake and Northern Michigan, giving honest credit to the photography of Meredith Johnson. She continues:
Just remember: Even if you’re not lucky enough to be loving the lake today [ . . . ] love those near and far; love the crisp autumn air with no distraction but the sound of your feet; love the sun and the rain and all that you can; because, at the end of the day, it’s all that we’ve got, and loving it is all up to you.”
Is a podcast literature? Taylor Cramer introduces us to his form of self- expression and social commentary through “The Cold Shower.” Simply: “A podcast embraces the discomfort of awakening through human stories.” Each episode is a clear insight into a life, like this selection from “Episode 007”:
See that Fedex driver? Listen as he shares his true passion, about what fills his evenings every day after work. He’s actually a carpenter. Crafting intricate pieces out of wood for those he loves, often for free.
While each issue is filled with visual art and paintings, reinforced by expressive commentary and creative fiction, this sixth issue also considers film and the stories of the filmmakers behind the work.
“Future Kings: On Filmmaking in Northern Michigan” is written by John Paul Morris, a cinematographer and director who operates his own commercial production company. His insights go beyond the predictable questions that are asked of film makers (where’d you get the idea?) to provide insight into the creative process as a part of one’s life. The insights apply to any medium or creative process:
Making films, whether they’re short films, commercials, or branded content for the web, requires a substantial investment of time. The work demands long hours and late nights over the course of months and years. It’s easy to feel exhausted, to feel daunted, and just as easily feel all the excitement in the world.
The full effect of The Boardman Review can’t be felt in a short review, and it may in fact require the online experience rather than just the print version, but, assuredly, the time will be well spent.
Review by Mitchel Jarosz