Enizagam is a breath of fresh air in the literary world. It proves that you don’t have to hold a master’s degree in order to enjoy, edit, and critique good literature. The young students at Oakland School for the Arts edit this literary magazine written by adults and for adult readership every year. Though it is a highly esteemed magazine, I had never gotten the pleasure of reading it until this issue, and it sure didn’t disappoint.
“Night Shift” by Nicholas Kriefall paints a picture of a woman getting ready for another night of work. She is living in a bad area and through the poem we learn that although she works hard, she does not have much money but makes do with what she has:
The dryer is broken:
Her stockings hang crumpled
From the window like snakeskin.
When she puts them on
The hairs on her legs, arms
And neck rise.
On her way out she applies lipstick
In the broken hallway mirror
Like a spider web telling her to stay.
Though the poem was written simply and did not use fancy language as a crutch, the reader dives deep into this woman’s life and can easily visualize her apartment, the stockings and mirror, and especially her movements. She, like so many of us, has fallen into a routine, and the way out is unclear.
I really enjoy when writers detail a narrator’s rituals so that I can see every movement. Kelly Morton writes “Louisville Slugger” employing this technique. Although seeing through a narrator’s eyes who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder or autism often lacks emotion, their rituals are very methodical and that in itself is their emotion and passion:
He taps on the door twice to enter. The boy picks up his
brand new Louisville Slugger and swings it
around the room, then walks three steps to the closet and
places it inside. The boy opens his backpack
and places his books on the upper left side of his antique
writing desk—English on top of Social Studies
on top of Arithmetic and Latin buried completely at the
bottom. The boy sharpens four yellow, number
two pencils and places them, erasers down, on the right side of
the antique writing desk.
The poem continues to detail encounters of family members and days at school. It almost seems like a short story as we get to learn so much about this boy and the people around him.
M.K. Metz offers us a short one page piece that makes us consider our lives and our purpose. “Sixty Seconds Left” graces us with sixty seconds (counting backwards) where we lose all freedom of choice and must contemplate and finally face our life thus far. It is so freeing to read through someone else’s memories and regrets:
This may not be the best time to wonder why you never joined the SLA with Patty Hearst or why you didn’t say anything to Bob Dylan when he passed you on the street once in New York, caught your stare directly and said "It’s me." Or why you never said I’m sorry to Laura after that New Years Eve in Joshua Tree when you both got drunk and argued in the same motel room that Gram Parsons overdosed in years before. She called you several times after that. You never picked up.
While this piece helps to face the past and relive important moments, it also encourages us to change in the future. It tells us to be kind to ourselves, to let go of the sadness that litters our memories. It was so easy to imagine my troubles, worries, fears, and sadness board the train in California and wave goodbye as it sailed off away from my future.