I would love to be able to give specific pages of reference to anyone interested in picking up a copy of Conduit based on this review, but I can’t. Editors made a very bold choice to use words associated with failure as their method of pagination! What some might call page 1, the creative team at Conduit decided to call “accident.” The last page of the magazine is called, “zero.”
During the first bit of writing presented, “Hardware,” by Editor William D. Waltz, one very famous actor’s name is misspelled, and I very nearly lost all hope in the rest of the issue based on what I considered a gross oversight. Turns out the joke was on me, and that is one of the things which helps to make this issue so lively; a number of different approaches are presented (interview, poetry, visual art), and all of them actively engage the reader. In later pages, the same actor is referenced again with his name spelled correctly.
One of his four poems that found publication in this issue, Bob Hicok’s “USA USA” is absolutely breathtaking. The poem takes on social, sexual, and economical problems that have our country in a state of confusion and presents them in a very lyrical way that is easy to latch onto. Here are some lines for your consideration: “. . . I cannot afford / my heart attack is America. / I will go to Belgium / for my heart attack is America.” This is one of two poems contained in this issue that I shared at a local open mic night, full credit given to Conduit and Hicok, and received several thanks for having done so.
La Nona Ora, a photograph by Maurizio Cottelan, is my favorite visual image presented. Several of the other images were paintings rendered for consideration, but this particular image was a fictional depiction of the Pope being partially crushed by a stone. It was stark white splashed with gray and red, but did not appear doctored beyond what was set for the photo shoot. Very fun to be shocked on turning that page!
There are a couple of author interviews, and my favorite is by Steven Lee Beeber with An Underachiever’s Diary author Benjamin Anastas. Anastas has some interesting things to say in regards to failing in the eyes of those who adhere to a strict socio-normative structure. Anastas spells out some of his personal regrets in writing as well as his personal life, coming to a realization which originally caught me as distrustful, but I think his words are starting to figure it out, even if his conscious is not. He states, “I’ve never believed that writing is therapeutic,” but goes on to advance that line of discussion and ends up saying, “A lot of anger and dissatisfaction and guilt I felt before has just vanished.” A very interesting interview indeed.
I was hooked into Dean Young’s “Little Biomass of Horrors” from its opening lines:
Everyone eats at least 8 spidersAnd I remained engaged through to the very end. I will not ruin that line here for you, but it uses one of the most interesting variations of the F-word I have ever seen pulled off, and it uses it brilliantly!
during a lifetime’s sleep ahmen.
The world’s weight of worms is 10x
that of humans be praised. . . .
There are just so many good poems in this issue. More than 26 writers and 50 individual poems, plus interviews, visual art, and one exhausted reviewer later, this issue left me very fulfilled with everything that went on inside of it. Definitely check out Conduit at your first convenience!