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The Laurel Review – 2007

This issue of The Laurel Review contains mainly poetry but also has a few selections of fiction, essays, and book reviews.

This issue of The Laurel Review contains mainly poetry but also has a few selections of fiction, essays, and book reviews.

I’ve been reading more prose poetry recently, and this issue has a few I really enjoyed. Jesse Lee Kercheval’s poem “4:15” follows a mother’s thoughts about her son’s doctor’s appointment and her daughter’s safety walking home from school. Each stanza is broken up in five-minute increments – from 3:45 to 4:20: “4:15-…the doctor shines a light / into the delicate pink that is Max. Checks the tubes, thin as wire, that drain / his inner ear, keep fluid from drowning the world and all its sound.” Albert Goldbarth’s poetry uses a two-day academic trip to Missoula – a town he hasn’t visited for many years – and Sir Conan Doyle’s book, Sir Nigel, to reflect about the differences between both the remote and the immediate past and the ever-changing present.

All three of the fiction selections (by two authors) contain compelling characters, and all three seem unresolved in their ending. In Catherine Kriege‘s “Miracle,” sixth-grade Amy feels slighted by a former friend until that friend signs Amy’s autograph book. In Charles Heiner’s “Miss Kristinsen,” an eighth grader, Jennings, loves to draw his art teacher, though neither he nor the reader finds out how she received a scar on her face. And in Daniel T. Smith’s “The Mission,” Father Jaime assigns Berno, a worker at the Mexican mission, to help a girl who had a tryst in the neighboring field the night before. However, Berno never figures out if Father Jaime accepts her, faults and all.

Although I’m usually not a big fan of unresolved plots, in these particular stories I thought the ending the characters looked for was an ending not necessarily needed. For example, although Jennings wants to know the origin of his teacher’s scar, he receives what he truly needs: an insightful art instructor. And while the reader doesn’t see whether or not Father Jaime accepts Berno, he does see that Berno’s done what was needed: she helped out a girl who was in a similar predicament as her.

I’ve only touched the surface of The Laurel Reader. Both these stories and the diverse poems deserve a further examination by every reader.
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