This issue of The Journal flexes its tensile strength in both poetry and fiction. The first poem to shake me was Frannie Lindsay's “To the Petermann Glacier,” which seems to portend an environmental holocaust (the glacier moving “down each torn strand of latitude”) while hinting at the post-disaster world to come, one where we find “the newly erected Cathedral of Zero / with its pulpit tangled in sumac.” Meanwhile, “the lost gulls float inland scavenging sticks // as you lay down the calm heat of listening before / the great barrier requiem.”
Next to hook me was Mary Ann Samyn's poem “I Want Your Kisses,” where she asks a tough question: “Is this the fastest path to happiness, or is this happiness?” And if that wasn't tough enough, she moves on to: “What does it mean to be alive?” Her answer to that last one, though, at least ends the poem on a reassuring note: “We'll know when we're ready.”
In fiction, I found two stellar short stories: Joe Aguilar's “Chicken Suit” and Jacob Appel's “The Summer of Interrogatory Subversion,” winner of The Journal's Seventh Annual Short Story Contest. In “Chicken Suit,” a teenage drummer deals with acute acne while attending music camp; typical camp antics ensue. Appel's story details the travails of a young woman as she first experiences the vagaries of the human heart. I think it would be hard for any human not to sympathize with her.
Still early in the issue, while a few paragraphs deep into Michael White's compelling excerpt from Travels in Vermeer, I flipped to the table of contents to determine the genre of this piece and realized that The Journal doesn't label its contents along genre lines. A quick glance at White's bio in the back also did not offer up any clues regarding Travels. After grudgingly making my way to the Web, I finally discovered that this piece is an excerpt from White's forthcoming memoir. Maybe some readers don't care to see a journal's contents labeled by genre (or to even know what genres a journal publishes), but in certain cases it can be helpful. This would've been one of them. A minor objection here, but one I thought worth noting.
The issue closes out neatly with reviews of new poetry collections from Jason Koo, Carmen Gime?nez Smith, Amy Wright, and Erika Meitner.