It is truly shocking to know that Prime Mincer is a young magazine still in its first year of publication. This edition is packed with insightful, daring, and creative work that will appeal to a diverse readership. So many poems, stories, and nonfiction pieces stood out and demanded to be heard. This is certainly a magazine you will have to hold in your hands to enjoy the punch it delivers.
Annie Strong’s cover artwork is brilliant. You can actually see the brush strokes that create the trees and grass that allow the viewer to feel as though they are a part of the process. A lone wolf painted an orange-red hue stands in the woods. It tells a story, as all good artwork does. Cover art is very important; it sets the scene and invites readers in. I found myself disappointed that this was the only painting included in the issue, since it was so intriguing. It shocked me to read in her bio that she does not paint professionally.
There is only one interview included in the issue, which is with Vanessa Gebbie. She describes three lessons for aspiring writers that were particularly poignant. Gebbie gives us some words to consider, not just for writers, but for all of us: “Without self-doubt you will never seek to do better. Without self-confidence you will never know when someone else (maybe a much more experienced person) is wrong about your work.” Balance is everything and Gebbie takes a stab at explaining what a successful balance actually is.
Because so much of the work included in this issue stands out, it is difficult to highlight the best writers. However, to give you a taste of the magazine, Adam Tavel’s poem, “A Proposition,” had such a strong beginning that I found myself floored:
Steel cock of death, this magnum’s barrel
snug against your temple. The round
chambers with the hammer-click
as a blank legal pad lays
beside your bag of bruised
The imagery is so powerful that you’ll find yourself thinking about the feeling of having a gun to your head later in the day. Tavel’s words are haunting and, as you read through the experiences presented in this poem, you read them as your own. The poem smothers you in a pleasant way; you are helpless against its power, yet are strangely comfortable with that reality.
Three poems by Jan LaPearle are also included in the issue, and each is as fantastic as its successor. In her poem “Stitch,” the narrator is reflecting on a young Austrian girl that her father held prisoner in the basement. The narrator speculates on whether or not the girl learned to knit:
catch, catch me if you can, I say when I let her free, when I let her run in the garden
with me. When she brushes against the flowering trees, blossoms fall,
and where they fall in the grasses the ground blooms—a pregnant ground,
a pregnant girl, and the babies move in her like candy & fruit.
I almost know she knits for those little melon heads with stitches tight as a noose.
The description is so powerful that readers can imagine themselves out in the garden, watching the scene unfold. Another poem, “New Motorcycle,” takes place over an Easter ham. It is a poem about family, love, and the cobwebs that one sweeps into a corner of their soul in order to keep the family intact. The narrator thinks about her mother:
I think sometimes
she wants to ride off like grandpa. Galloping like a horse.
I think she wants to be shiny and new, wants to ride off past her bills,
her bad job, the yards in town on fire, right on
past her winter that’s held her for years like a fist.
“Wenze, Wenze,” a piece of nonfiction contributed by Kate Wolf is both humorous and dark. Her voice sheds light on an otherwise very serious and controversial subject: prostitution. The opening pulls the reader in and refuses to let go: “I don’t know what you did last weekend, but I spent my Saturday with a few prostitutes. I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who did so in this town, and I hope I’m not the only one who watched someone put a condom on.” The lines are both informative and mysterious. Wolf continues to emphasize the health workers’ goal in Africa: to promote healthy sex habits for prostitutes which, of course, includes the protection of condoms. These women support themselves through prostitution and Wolf’s first person observation of this interaction between the health workers and prostitutes is spellbinding.
This second issue of Prime Mincer delivers. It not only satisfies, but also reminds us what literary magazines are all about, and why editors struggle days on end with finances, manpower, resources and, of course, sleep. Clearly, these writers deserve to be discovered and praised.