Published at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Devil’s Lake offers a sampling of poetry, fiction, and visual art twice a year.
I spent a great deal of time on Matt Morton’s “Spring Bulletin,” and although I don’t think I’ve unlocked all the keys to the poem, I lingered on each moment, trying to take it all in. Written in the second-person point of view, it causes me to be hesitant moving through the poem as I read the lines, “Something / vaguely unsettling about the quality of air. / Something about the humidity that left us / glancing over our shoulders when we mowed the lawn.”
There is a strong feeling of absence in Julia Heney’s poem “Farmer’s Song” in which a young farmer enlists, leaving his animals and crops behind:
Under the current of days and moon change,
his inherited horses distressed
in the field unmown—
not ridden or oated—a cur tormented
their unshod hooves.
Katie Cortese contributes three pieces of fiction, all three of which allow the reader easy entry into the piece by describing a bit of the scenery. But don’t worry, it’s interesting, and the setting serves as part of the story, whether it be the moon in her first piece, the barbeque (both the event and the actual grill) in “Independence Day,” or the aftermath of a neighbor’s party, “the yard will be rashed with red solo cups.”
And Maxim Loskutoff certainly knows how to grab your attention in his prose “Everything You Hear is True” with the first line: “We rented our house to a couple of meth-heads.” But despite the killer attention-grabber, it’s not really about the meth-heads, it’s about an unhappy wife living in Florida, where as the title says, everything you hear about it is true. “If you don’t see something fucked up look the other way,” she says.
The only art contribution is “Inspiration” by James Lawson. An incredible shot of a bottle of ink exploding, the collection is draws you in. I wish there were more of an artist’s statement, to know more about the inspiration, if you will, behind the piece.