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Out of Line – 2003

“We welcome writing that makes us feel and think deeply about serious human concerns such as tolerance, diversity, freedom, nonviolence, multi-cultural awareness, healthy relationships, environmental justice, globalization, personal growth, and spirituality,” say the editors of this annual publication from Ohio, now in its fifth year. This issue features writing on peace and social justice and includes stories, poems, and short personal essays on a wide range of themes, among them:  war, the conflict in the Middle East, anarchist organizations, the life of the Pueblo community in the southwestern United States, racism, the life of migrant workers in the United States, the internment of Japanese American citizens, living with disabilities, domestic violence, and the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001. Contrary to what one might expect, encountering these themes together is not overwhelming. In fact, this accumulation of social justice themes actually seems to work in their favor, creating a large and more commanding vision.

“We welcome writing that makes us feel and think deeply about serious human concerns such as tolerance, diversity, freedom, nonviolence, multi-cultural awareness, healthy relationships, environmental justice, globalization, personal growth, and spirituality,” say the editors of this annual publication from Ohio, now in its fifth year. This issue features writing on peace and social justice and includes stories, poems, and short personal essays on a wide range of themes, among them:  war, the conflict in the Middle East, anarchist organizations, the life of the Pueblo community in the southwestern United States, racism, the life of migrant workers in the United States, the internment of Japanese American citizens, living with disabilities, domestic violence, and the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001. Contrary to what one might expect, encountering these themes together is not overwhelming. In fact, this accumulation of social justice themes actually seems to work in their favor, creating a large and more commanding vision.

One of the most unusual, surprising, and rewarding pieces is Ann Lewison’s short fiction, “Rose Petals,” which begins: “After the flood we built our house of rose petals.” The house is condemned, as it’s a federal offense to build a house out of rose petals. I was impressed not only by the story’s success, but also by the inclusion of the theme of coping with “natural disasters” in the spectrum of issues related to social justice. A short poem of effective three-line stanzas by JoAnne Growney, “Pages of Unsaid Words,” is memorable, too, mindful of the women “without wages” in a prison in Nanjing who make the “black spring clamps” that “wait for manuscripts” in the  poet’s desk drawer. Most impressive, though, are translations by Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani of the work of Japanese poet Ayukawa Nobuo, one of the founding poets of the “Wasteland” group and a pacifist war veteran. Some of Nobuo’s work is frighteningly apt for the current moment, such as these lines from a poem titled “Solzhenitsyn”: “Because everywhere you go/you don’t stop to be yourself,/you’re always watched and shadowed.” [Out of Line, P.O. Box 321, Trenton, Ohio 45067. E-mail: [email protected] Single issue $10.00. http://www.readoutofline.com/] – SR

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