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Welter - 2010

Sitting down with a hot mug of coffee and looking at the landscape-style, bright green literary magazine sitting flat on the table in front of me, my first thought was, I hope I don't stain this. My second thought on the cover, after having read through the pages between the two covers, was that the content was just as strange and delightful. Well, most of it. Some of it was more strange than delightful, and some more delightful than strange. Still, I'm glad I didn't stain it.

The 2010 issue of Welter boasts a great deal of diversity. Most of the poems and stories (which are super-short; great for people like me with short attention spans) are witty and smart, right to the point. And most of these, possibly all of them, are full of beautiful language. Here's the very beginning one of my favorites—a poem called “Kitty & Tony” by Danielle Sinclitico:

he forgot her name
& the world dropped like a stone, solid
into her pocket, mixing with lint
and hard candies

Here's another poem, a list poem, that works very well—“A Course in Miracles” by Marion Winik:

Your scale is six pounds heavy.
Your cell phone has been found.
Your agent is trying to reach you.
There is good news from the Middle East.
There is an amazing thing that happens after menopause.
What do you mean, out-of-network?
A love letter is in your mailbox.

This one is different in that the list really moves all over the place. There are lines about the Middle East, about a person's dead parents, and about their scale not working. But these weird swerves and sharp turns in subject work here, I think, in netting up all these random events as miracles. Losing six pounds due to a technical error, as many people will tell you, certainly deserves miracle status.

Aside from the many witty pieces in this issue, there are a weighty handful of truly moving ones. Pieces that hit that emotion bone in our bodies in just the right way. My favorite of these is a poem by Tania Hopwood titled “60 and Alzheimer's”:

Like many days before
I am simply nameless.
She'd say,
“Come Ma–
Su–, El–
Today is a happy day.
Today I shall be Emily.

There are a few stories with the same soul-type as this poem. One of these, a story by Sue van den Brink-Loweree titled “Magic Happens,” is an excellent example. Here, a couple is in desperate need of an apartment in the (trust me) dirty New Orleans, but can't seem to catch any breaks. Then:

Through the break in the bamboo wall, a broad, crowned brick walk rutted by carriage wheels led up to the front door. Apparently what had once been stables at ground level had been converted to living quarters. To the right of the entrance, a massive trunk of an over-arching magnolia tree laced with ivy was almost hiding a dusty faded “For Rent” sign.

The poems as well as the stories in this magazine all show these same strengths. They flow nicely as a straight-through read, yet are still great to simply flop open to a random page and dive in. The weakest point of this issue, though I love the possibilities in it, are the comics. They are, at least in this year's issue, a bit crude in both humor and overall quality, but even so, they divide up the literature rather nicely. If you venture out to pick up this year's Welter, don't forget to enjoy the cover.

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Review Posted on July 14, 2011

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