With two traditionally constructed short stories, a meta-fictional batch of autobiographical “contributor’s notes” by writer Michael Martone, and a nonfiction piece excerpted from the personal notebook of author M.V. Clayton, this issue of The Journal is slim on its prose offerings, leaning almost entirely toward poetry.
With two traditionally constructed short stories, a meta-fictional batch of autobiographical “contributor’s notes” by writer Michael Martone, and a nonfiction piece excerpted from the personal notebook of author M.V. Clayton, this issue of The Journal is slim on its prose offerings, leaning almost entirely toward poetry. But unlike perhaps every other litmag I’ve perused, all of the poetry here sparked my complete and unadulterated enjoyment. Most compelling is a suite of works by various poets, each concerning the tender, reflective, occasionally paradoxical moments of parenthood or birthgiving. Chad Chmielowicz’s “Parable of the Pacifier” is brave and evocative in its attempts to lyrically combine the mysteries that shape an infant’s experience of the world and those that shape the concerns of the infant’s parents. “…People here look like people / from years ago in a different place / and I keep mistaking them. To think, this happens / continuously. The colors you see now / will sharpen into faces and you will track / your life in their lines.” Katrina Roberts’ lovely piece “Postlude: Madrigal” follows, limning the willing self-sacrifices of motherhood: “…There is no fabric as rich / as the time I spend watching you sleep, / thought passing across the pond of your face / as the wind ripples the wheat…”. And Daneen Wardrop’s elegiac poem “Birthday’s Profile” haunts with thoughts upon a twin who never came to completion in the mother’s womb: “Before ultrasound she flew. / You could not tell her running / from her hair flying.” Anthony Varallo’s story “The Pines,” winner of The Journal’s First Annual Short Story Prize, is in its own rambling way poetic and image-driven, and Varallo has a knack for immediate, vivid evocation even while inventing new twists on the coming-of-age framework of his narrative. In short, The Journal offers finely chiseled, artful, and thought-provoking work in both poetry and prose. I recommend it highly as an anodyne for anyone who tends to shy away from contemporary poetry: it will restore your faith in the enjoyment modern poets can afford you.