If Volume 8 of Enizagam is an accurate measure, age is no indicator of ability. The literary magazine is produced by 9th-12th grade students at the School of Literary Arts at Oakland School for the Arts in Oakland, California. The urban public arts charter school students design, edit, and publish the journal, and they do an excellent job. Enizagam is a beautifully designed read, full of the kind of poetry and fiction that not only delights, but sticks with the reader long after putting the publication down. If Volume 8 of Enizagam is an accurate measure, age is no indicator of ability. The literary magazine is produced by 9th-12th grade students at the School of Literary Arts at Oakland School for the Arts in Oakland, California. The urban public arts charter school students design, edit, and publish the journal, and they do an excellent job. Enizagam is a beautifully designed read, full of the kind of poetry and fiction that not only delights, but sticks with the reader long after putting the publication down.
The issue begins with a bang, if by “bang” one can mean the fierce and intelligent poetry of Kat Harville. Harville is the poetry winner of The Enizagam Literary Contest in Poetry & Fiction 2014, and from the first poem “the floating bed” (Harville has several in the issue) it is easy to see why:
i take the mango of his skull and bite,
life dripping from my chin. there is no other! there is none fresher,
there is no mango more like a mango.
there is no lover more like a lover!
The imagery is visceral, the language richly evocative, and the subsequent poems follow up on the promise of this first.
In “C m y k” by Jeanine Deibel, the language flows forth so beautifully it almost needs to be read aloud:
In the mist
it doesn’t often
storm like this.
Other poems, like Cynthia Blank’s “Testimony,” hit harder, as if telling a truth always known, but never articulated: “I can only remember as I want you to remember / that nobody lies about loneliness / not an old woman and not a young girl.”
Enizagam also features fiction, including that of its 2014 fiction winner, Mirene Arsanios. Arsanios’s “B” is a roiling lyrical short story that jumps out, grabs you, and takes you for a ride you will not regret. Less intense, but equally rewarding, is “We are the Woods” by C. S. Perez, a tale of the travails of a badly wanted pregnancy. It is human and raw and relatable even to those who have never experienced the exact trials it details in its poetic language.
The final piece in the issue is an interview with author Isabel Allende. It is a fitting and at times lyrical interview that serves as a perfect finale for the issue. Interviewed by 11th grade student and passionate Allende fan Mina Jameson, Allende offers insight into the intersection of inspiration, writing, and life. When Jameson asks where Allende’s stories come from, she receives the enigmatic reply: “Maybe the characters and the stories happened, are happening or will happen in the future and I just pick them up in the air.” Allende’s confessions fit nicely into Enizagam’s apparent appreciation for impassioned and thought-provoking work.
The literary content of Enizagam’s eighth issue is certainly excellent, but it would be amiss to not take note of its visual design as well. The layout and the design of the content is tasteful and engaging, so much so that I took special note of it, which is unusual (for me). The cover art “Selfies” by Andrea Sarber is both aesthetically pleasing and disarming in its portrayal of a young woman with blank eyes holding what appears to be a (also blank) phone in front of her face, blocking it. From the first glance, Enizgam seems to challenge the reader to rethink daily tropes. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but the reader undeniably comes away all the better for it, because there is great beauty to be had between these covers.