This issue sizzles, ignites, burns, and lights a literary fire with the special theme of “Heat.” The contest winner, Ann Cwiklinski, contributes a third-person narrative about a woman who takes her children for a day at the beach, but she cannot relax as she is constantly on the lookout to keep her children safe. Yet, as the sun blazes down on her, she is drawn to the water. She wants to take a swim by herself and perhaps disappear. Titled “Selkie,” this story came from Cwiklinski’s research about Irish folklore: “These weren’t romantic fairytales, but matter-of-fact stories about some local woman who jumped into the sea one day, her mild eccentricities finally making sense to her neighbors: ‘Shoulda known that she was part seal!’”
“Painting Jorge’s Daughter” is a story by Vincent Scarpa that takes a peak into the life of a woman whose girlfriend is on a failing musical tour:
Sometimes Erin asks me what happened to these people who loved her, these college girls who waited in the rain and hail to stake their claim in the front row, and what I can’t tell her is that the answer is simple— they’ve outgrown her. No one loves anyone forever.
Scarpa says that the story was inspired by how much he was thinking about “the people and the lives that entertainers—be they musicians, comics, magicians, what have you—leave behind at home while they’re away for indeterminate amounts of time.” What comes from all this pondering is a story that is heartfelt and honest as this woman, whose “emptiness is big enough to tuck the entire world into,” tries to make sense of her world.
“intersection” by Leslie F. Miller was formed by taking striking words from her Facebook friends and using one for each line of the poem. Before discovering this, I read the poem and was in awe with all of the juicy words. As you read through the poem, you quickly discover which word inspired the line, and it is fun to see how she made them all work together:
like memorial ribbon tourniquets on road signs
you stanch my speed, but I will fester here
among the deadly nightshade, the bucolic poisons
of pastured cows, milk coagulating in a barrel.
you grow from these fields. I am interred.
What I love most about this magazine is the emphasis on the writers and on the writing. The table of contents is a collage of images, portraits of the authors, showing that they are the main focus of the magazine. Also, after each piece, the author has room to share what inspired the writing or give a larger context to the story or poem. Baltimore Review offers up not only great writing but also lets you take a glimpse at the muse behind the curtain.