This issue had a lot going on in it, and I am quite frankly left feeling run through the ringer. A full-length chapbook by Colin Winnette, titled “Follow Through,” was stuck right in the middle of this issue! It was intriguing work comprised of short, paragraph style prose poetry, but it completely distracted me from trying to understand the issue as its own piece of work. (I found out, after researching the press, this chapbook placement is a common practice with Heavy Feather Review.)
All types of written and visual works are contained within this issue. Often times, I was left wondering whether I was reading a poem, a story, or even a bit of nonfiction; there were even wonderfully scripted pieces that could be translated on stage or film. Everything contained in the pages is definitely worth reading/experiencing, but it’s unfortunate the way these things have been jammed together.
I was initially drawn in by the first poem presented, “There’s This Thing” by Jeff Tigchelaar, for its surreal feeling. I had fresh hope that this issue would give me off-the-wall stuff still capable of evoking interest. My favorite lines here, for their imaginative absurdity, read “and large enough to house / (and does in fact house) / a five-foot, oh, how should I say it. / Starfish-squid. . . .” Two more poems by Tigchelaar immediately followed; off to a decent start.
Next up is where things got a bit confusing to me. Of course, author Britt Melewski decided to bring in Bill Murray as star of his written fantasy titled “Scharky,” and Bill Murray is pretty good at muddling things up (see his work in almost everything for a combination of belly rolling laughter and head scratching as to what is actually going on). Melewski uses time travel and action in a bit of what I can only describe as pros-etry that is very difficult to get a handle on. Clocking in at under two pages, this brick of writing took me a solid 15 minutes to figure out even a little. Not bad, just dense.
Several pages later, readers can expect to find the first images: photographs by Peter Witte. They are wonderful pieces capturing moments of city minutae in a series very appropriately titled “Urbanity.” Looking back now, it was the visual images I found most intriguing about this issue. Much later, readers are presented three collages by Guy Benjamin Brookshire, with my favorite being “The Last of the Junken Officers Hear the Terms of Pusspaw.” It’s not every day we get to see house cats dressed as redcoats hanging a man.
My two favorite pieces of work in this issue span multiple pages. “Game in the Sand” by Joe Sacksteder is a macabre script within a piece of fiction dealing with snuff filmmaking that is quite gripping. There are some blurry points in the flow between the “real life” characters and the roles they are playing in the story, but that just adds to the fascination as to what really happened. Here are a couple of lines to whet your appetite:
Do I actually have to point it at him? Lukas asks. Karl and Peter are unloading supplies from the van. Lukas is examining the shotgun. If it was a side angle, the answer would be no, Ernst tells him. But with the angle I’m planning, they’ll be able to tell.
“The Last Bullet,” a comic by Andrew Bourelle and Edward Bourelle, pleased both my desire for quality literature and visual appeal. It is black and white and deals with a Western shootout, eventually leading to a confrontation with nature. Wonderful psychological play with a vicious ending; those terrified of snakes beware!
As you can tell, I was able to find some great stuff in this issue, but do not pick up this issue of Heavy Feather Review if you are looking for a light read. This one takes more than just a couple hours on the couch. As always, the reading is worth it with time.