At 56 total pages of creative work, PRISM sends a tremendous wallop of beautiful writing that, it’s made clear on both covers and often throughout, is (primarily) from Canada, although they do feature writers from the United States and declare themselves globally cosmopolitan. For those unfamiliar, there’s an organization called the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association that, through both a stamp on the back cover (“Genuine Canadian Magazine”) and an advertisement in the rear of the journal appearing just a step across the line between pride and swagger, establishes what could feel like a strange provincial sneer, if one were so inclined.
I don’t know if that matters to you or not, but even if it does, try skipping all that fuss and heading directly to page 7 for Avital Gad-Ckyman’s “Once a Month We Play,” a tremendous story, and doubly tremendous for its amazing brevity. The fiction in PRISM seems a step or two ahead of the poetry, though that may be for the breadth of the shoulders of the fiction in this issue—Avital Gad-Ckyman’s story and Seth Feldman’s “Decking the Heavy” - incredible to read together, regardless the journal. Feldman’s disjointed episodic/vignette-ish story is great, great writing: double-crosses and romance and theoretical 747’s landing on an aircraft carrier.
The poetry, compared with the simultaneously wild and deeply-felt stories, is quiet, meditatively quiet: “I want the merciful retelling: / a whisper always blood” quiet (from the first of Eve Joseph’s “Four Ghazals”). Steven Heighton’s invocatory poems—“Three Approximations,” of Catallus, Sappho and Homer—are certainly spot-on and pretty, and Adam Chiles’ “Helen,” if for nothing more than the lines “Another may have / thought it better to / slow-dance their way / down, one bottle at a time,” is worth reading three times. That said, the poetry herein still doesn’t quite match the cumulative power of the prose.
Regardless, it’s a wonderful magazine, clear and precise and economic—as much beauty as possible in as slim a package as this. [PRISM International, Creative Writing Program, UBC, Buch. E 462 – Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada. E-mail: . Single issue $7.99. http://prism.arts.ubc.ca/index.htm] - WC