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300 Days of Sun – Spring 2014

300 Days of Sun is a new student-run publication from Nevada State College Humanities Department featuring poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and visual art and funded by a donation from Dr. and Mrs. J. Russell Raker, III in honor of their son Major Jonathan Russell Raker who passed away October 6, 2011 at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. The students have done well to honor the Raker family and have also established their place in deserving continued support from their institution.

300 Days of Sun is a new student-run publication from Nevada State College Humanities Department featuring poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and visual art and funded by a donation from Dr. and Mrs. J. Russell Raker, III in honor of their son Major Jonathan Russell Raker who passed away October 6, 2011 at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. The students have done well to honor the Raker family and have also established their place in deserving continued support from their institution.

It’s clear by the selection and placement of content, the editors of 300 Days of Sun have sensibilities of the publication as an entity, opening with a photograph of a stretch of highway heading toward the mountains, and closing with a photo of a road sign indicating “END” with the desert in the background. Throughout, there is careful placement of like content: “Learning to Fly”—the art image a lifeless bird pooling blood—by Dominque Chavira follows the story “Georgette Silloughby” by Jane St. Clair, in which a young man chases, loses, then secretly harbors his yearning for his first love; the photograph of a concrete watering hole “Shepherd’s Tub, Owens River Valley, near Bishop, CA.” by Lanze Nizami precedes the poem “Drought” by Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb—and so on throughout. These pairings can sometimes seem forced and awkward in publications, but here, the editors have shown care to allow them to be obvious but not overbearing.

Of the poetry, Jodi Peterson’s untitled piece was the strongest example of imagery which stayed with me long after reading: “He found me folded up like a baby on the ground. / Limb by limb he unraveled me, / And laid me out to dry.” Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb’s “Damage” speaks to the environmental in recognizing “nature” in natural catastrophes (“blaze-to-haze summers”), such as the lives of birds and animals, and how much living minutia we overlook when assessing only human damage:

      the nesting jays, for instance,
flying out of their parental habits
into open habitat, burdened beaks
dropping last meals before the birds
flee . . .

I loved the humor of Lisa Stice’s “The Truth about the Flying Nun,” which provides a series of condensed small-town character studies, including Bob the Bum and Ronald Zim,

who sat in front of the station
with his shotgun
and shot at elves
whenever they came by—
they never came by—

Trina Gaynon’s “That Winter Glare” in only eight lines creates a scene of silent stillness that was a great comfort in my busy day, while Lance Nizami’s “Treading” methodically courses from the personal to the universal in exploring our impact on the world around us: “We seek to simplify all curves / We seek to remake Nature in straight lines / We understand through mis-re-presentation.”

Of the prose, there is just as wide a variety of subject and style. “The Bigger Man” by Leah Browning quotes its influencing lines from “End of the Line” by Aimee Bender. Browning takes up the story of “a little man” who is adopted by “the big man” who goes seeking a pet at the local shelter. Taking the little man home, the big man then searches for and locates a little woman companion. The choices which follow bring out what being a bigger man demands of us all when considering our responsibility to others whom we love.

I read “Two Men and a Gun” by Frank Scozzari while traveling home via plane from AWP Seattle. Appropriately so, because Scozzari tells the account of two road weary strangers seated knee-to-knee on a midnight train to Athens who cannot trust one another enough to sleep, until “the gun.” Sublimely detailed moment to moment, as tired as I was in my own travels, I slowly savored this one to the end.

Another work that kept me rapt, Amy Forstadt piece “For Dummies” is painfully biting humor about infidelity and being the one to walk out of the relationship. Written in the second person, the main character ends up alone in a hotel room with the realization: “You didn’t think leaving your husband would end up being so boring.” And yet, “You can’t go back. How can you? You can’t.”

While I loved the detailed character study and relationship exploration in Robert Carter’s “Nic,” the ending was a severe drop off. After investing myself in all I was given, I get, “Then life happened. He tends bar in Seattle now and I hear he’s doing well.” What?! That’s like, “And then I woke up and it was all a dream.” Yes, I get it, that is how life happens, but the complete lack of any kind of reflection after all that had been developed just felt so wrong. This is definitely a piece cut too soon, and I’d encourage it to be continued it to its more “writerly” conclusion. Really, it’s a compliment: as a reader, I was NOT ready to be that quickly done with those characters’ lives.

Similarly, “Floodman” by Jarret Keene, while humorous along the vein of Carl Hiaasen, seems overly condensed in this version. I would happily have invested myself in a full-length novel to follow the socially awkward comic book collector, the helpful hooker, the aging stoned professor, and the cranked up devil worshipper! Yes, that’s I’m all saying; you really need to read it yourself.

300 Days of Sun has done well with this debut issue, though as keen as these editors are on selecting detailed works, they need to be as accurate in their own editing detail. There are definitely some bumps and glitches that need more careful attention in future issues, but I give some allowance for newbies and especially for students whom we should be encouraging with guidance. So, up the game next time, crew. You have the content, packaging skill, and draw to bring a strong publication to the game. So bring it!
[300daysofsun.weebly.com]

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