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Phoebe - Fall 2005

  • Issue Number: Volume 34 Number 2
  • Published Date: Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

“Nothing original can ever be said about a trip to Paris; in some ways, that is its saving grace.” Kate Peterson may be right, in her installment-style story “Eighteen Conjugations of Cambridge,” which delights and ultimately stirs the dirty waters of nostalgia to a point that parallels “The lights in paintings […] afterglows: just-extinguished candles, early morning streetlamps, or dying stars.” Stunning in its candor, covering a dozen pages, Peterson’s piece closes the curtain on this issue of Phoebe, bringing its theme, exploration of language, to a soft diminuendo. The same comment about Paris may well be true of reviews, including journal reviews. The superlatives, one day, will run dry, but until that day, I’ll keep combating the cliché. Phoebe is a journal that makes me want to be a better writer. Given its immense and various content, and this issue’s excited playfulness with language and what it can do for both its writer and its readers, it’d have to try quite hard not to have that sort of effect on a reader. As I was reading and re-reading this issue, I kept returning to one of my largest writerly endeavors—combating the cliché. Sam Taylor, in his poem “Postscript,” end with a serendipitously fitting line: “As if even this fear belonged to us.” The fear of language that adheres to convention when you don’t want it to. What a fearless collection of a journal, in the face of the ever-creeping in cliché. Phoebe masters the art of sidestepping what is expected, and supplants expectation with door after door filled with novelty. On top of that, Claudine Hellmuth’s petite dossier of collages serves as a welcomed visual red, black, and white jolt. [www.gmu.edu/pubs/phoebe] —Erin M. Bertram

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Review Posted on January 31, 2006
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