Green Mountains Review – 2014
Volume 27 Number 2
This issue of Green Mountains Review focuses on different moments, how writers choose to capture those moments, what they bring into those moments, what they take out of those moments, and what these shared moments can provide to the reader. Every piece of work seems to say “This is a moment that has happened or is happening and how, dear reader, will you handle it?” This issue of Green Mountains Review focuses on different moments, how writers choose to capture those moments, what they bring into those moments, what they take out of those moments, and what these shared moments can provide to the reader. Every piece of work seems to say “This is a moment that has happened or is happening and how, dear reader, will you handle it?”
One of the most interesting pieces is a poem by Sharon Dolin titled “What You Want.” The poem implements a Japanese presentation strategy called “Pechu Kucha” in which 20 slides—or in this case, stanzas—are presented for 20 seconds each. This particular Pechu Kucha is modeled after three famous artists: Stieglitz, Steichen, and Strand, and each stanza is titled after one of the aforementioned artists’ works. Each stanza or “slide” works individually while at the same time weaving together to tell an overarching story of different moments of a decaying relationship:
[From the Back Window]
must mean you were cheating on your son.
You wanted to see me but not seed me
with longing. You wanted to be
one of the ones I said pleased me
without seizing me. You wanted the pulse
of me but not the almond cry of two bodies
lost inside each other: a pair of coupling
phoenixes soaring from their ruined marriages pyres.
Dolin doesn’t stop with just meshing the world of art and poetry or poetry and the Pechu Kucha, she integrates the idea of art directly into what she is writing, referencing things like architecture while also using it as a metaphor for love or a relationship: “What became of our building— / of our nascent plans—the one with the intimate view / no camera can take?” And then switching back to directly addressing photography: “All I’m left with is the undeveloped blur / of you running to make a call [. . .]” Dolin’s poem shows the reader how 20 separate moments can combine to become one moment and one story.
Another noteworthy poem featured in this issue is “Glacier” by Geoffrey Hereen. In this poem, Hereen attempts to capture moments of loss using tools of imagism. The poem begins:
Because there are many ways to lose yourself:
with a blue heart gushing into the ocean,
or sighing like a city that has tired of standing.
As the poem progresses, each line is constructed to be a moment or image in and of itself. The narrator is begging the reader to stop at the end of each line and ruminate on what is happening and how it is making them feel. Each image that Hereen presents stands starkly against the previous one, but it does interrupt the flow of the poem. The next few lines read:
With popsicle breath, like child in summer.
To make shattering skyscrapers of your guts
and sailboats of your bones.
While the images that are presented in this poem are not wholly new, they are refreshing and presented in a new light that surprises the reader at every turn—make the reader feel as if they were swallowing an ice cold glacier—and leave the reader with the impression that they just lived that moment. Hereen ends the poem by yanking the reader out of this moment and putting them back into the present with the command, “whisper unkeepable promises like a father.”
“One More Snowflake,” by Stephen Kiernan is a short fiction piece that attempts to capture a moment in time and tells the story of a man named Thomas. The story begins with Thomas embodying a sense of resignation and, at times, inner peace. He arrives at his ex-wife’s house for Christmas dinner with both his ex-wife and daughter who has recently been accepted to law school. When Thomas gets out of his car, he smells a birch log burning in the fireplace but knows, “better than to think she had done it for his benefit.” Not much time elapses and a short conversation leads Thomas to tell his ex-wife that his cancer is back and that this time there is no curing it. He is going to die. Thomas admits he appreciates life and everything about it more than ever before, saying he will be happy as long as he lives long enough to see one more snowflake fall. The dialogue within this story has many moments that will take hold of the reader’s emotions, and while only the story of one short evening, it leaves the impression of the entirety of Thomas’s life.
“An Eye that Never closes in Sleep: A Nightbook” by Gary L. McDowell captures the love a parent has for their child. McDowell reflects on the many sleepless nights he had with his baby girl suffering from colic. The prose is written eloquently and has a lullaby-like effect, rocking back and forth between McDowell’s inner thoughts and the real world in which a father and child are both feeling a different kind of distress. The piece begins with McDowell providing his definition of the word colic, “I know the word: colic. I know the last waves of exhaustion held aloft, in a voice—not a story but the margins of what comes before the end or after once upon a time.” Then in a stream of consciousness, he proceeds to trace the origins of the word colic, “From the Greek, kolikos. Knowing this proves nothing, but it gives the mind a place to dwell, a refuge.” The story ends with McDowell reflecting, making it known that all those moments were in the past and he now has a healthy toddler. He leaves the reader with his own thoughts of how he spent so much time comforting his daughter as a child. It was never fully enough to make her be okay, and now that she was okay, he may never be able to give her enough of himself when she needs it.
This issue of GMR is for readers and writers alike. The work in it will captivate you; it will ask you to react, and to feel. For writers, it will prompt you to pick up your pen and write of the moments that live inside your heart that are waiting to be shared with the world. For readers, it will ask that you keep turning each page and read the issue again and again.