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Eleven Eleven - 2014

  • Image: Image
  • Issue Number: Number 17
  • Published Date: 2014
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual
Not long after opening Eleven Eleven Issue 17, the reader finds two photographs by Ken Morisawa (“Fishman speed light #4” and “Fishman #18”). The two black and white images ostensibly depict a man diving into dark water, surrounded by chaos and a disturbance of bubbles. One may read this in other ways, but it strikes me as a man diving into the wild, the unknown, a bold and determined move. He may not know what to expect, but he jumps anyway. It is exhilarating. This interpretation fittingly mirrors the experience of opening Eleven Eleven. Whatever you think you are in for, you may be right, but there is almost certainly far more than that to discover and you will not see most of it coming. This journal, published by the California College of the Arts, is a dynamic treasure trove of poetry, art, and other writing

The issue is a richly textured chiaroscuro of words, imagery alternatingly light and dark, and themes that seem drawn straight from the well of the subconscious. The language of the poems presented in this issue fluidly oscillates between grand and nuanced, high art and low points, sometimes on a word-to-word basis. Jane Wong’s “Blood” displays the mix of imagery, meaning, and emotion seen in many of these poems:
Now you know where I’ve been
Black ink on palm, pumiced night
Face to face, we fought
In glory, in red, in arms our own.
There are many poems throughout the issue that display a similar beautiful blend of language, beat, and imagery.

While it does excel at it, not everything in Eleven Eleven deals in extremes, or even seriousness. There are also dashes of levity in the mix:
I remember how much I like the word procrastination,
an activity at which I excel.

I remember that my parents registered my birth certifi-
cate ten years after I was born, an example of post-natal
procrastination, which has cost me many a legal problem
writes Margo Glantz in “I Remember and I Also Remember.” There are some lines that are both enigmatic and inexplicably magnetic, such as the following from Shams Langeroodi:
now that I’ve been swallowed
by the snow leopard
there’s no remedy
but to wait
& watch it melt.
These poems hit you like the scent of a foreign perfume, eliciting an immediate response, a sense of familiarity, and yet you cannot pinpoint what exactly makes up the bouquet.

There is art scattered throughout the entire issue as well, and each work (or body of work) on display meshes snugly with the themes of the written works. Highlights include the whimsical and provocative art of Nathaniel Russell, and the abstract “cracks” drawings of classic artwork by Brian Fay. Fay has apparently taken Vermeer’s classic “Girl With Pearl Necklace” and offered it anew in “Vermeer Woman With Pearl Necklace, c. 1664 Cracks Drawing.” These pencil on paper works are equal parts inscrutable, fascinating, and mentally stimulating. The effect is mesmerizing.

There is a wide breadth of topics and styles for both the written works and the art in Eleven Eleven, but the whole feels effortlessly cohesive. It is a rich and rewarding tapestry of themes, ideas, and imagery, yet even the most disparate elements mesh together meaningfully. Overall, the works in this issue lean towards the mature, profound, and deeply beautiful, even when dark or vicious. The lighter moments shine like sun rays breaking the clouds at sea. This may sound dramatic, but like a painting from a Romantic master, there is a lot to be found in Eleven Eleven, and the reader will certainly will be left with an impression of beauty and time well spent.
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Review Posted on February 16, 2015

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