Knock is published bi-annually by Antioch University Seattle and has lots of flavor and flair; it is comprised of poems, fiction, essays, excerpts from books, interviews, and some fantastic color art and one hybrid piece. It must have been difficult to choose which artists' and writers' names would be featured on the cover as this issue shocked me with a tremendous amount of quality work. The editors certainly live up to the expectation of publishing “cutting edge” writing.
“The Post Office” is an excerpt from a one-act play by Stacey Levine. While the post office clerk is rather chatty and at some points I found myself questioning credibility, I was thoroughly entertained while reading. The man walks into the post office to simply fill out a paper requesting that they hold his mail while he goes on vacation, but it does not go as smoothly as planned. The clerk begins a long process of seemingly pointless conversation that continues to confuse the customer who cannot understand why he cannot go on his way. As in all good writing, there are little gems of truth that really spark your imagination and that can connect with your personal life:
Customer: It’s wrong to look back and regret, Gosh, I hate regret.
Clerk: Regret is real; we can’t avoid it.
Customer: It’s arrogant.
Clerk: I notice that you wear not durable, intelligent shoes, but slippers of the kind that girls wear in fairy stories. That alone is evidence that you do not live in the real world, where regret breathes in our ears just as do friends.
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the post office clerk remembers the customer from a past encounter, and it is truly a journey following their humorous conversation. I just hope the customer’s mail gets held without issue; the two end up so far off topic, and the issue is never resolved!
Janette Fecteau is featured for poetry, and although two poems are included in this issue, I wanted more! Her poem, “Janette’s Theory of Sex and Death” includes such vivid description. Here’s a snippet: “The man I want oozes sex / and death from scars so deep I can / ride my bike right through them.”
Her other poem, titled “Trial,” is about a woman who cheats on her husband. They are in the process of getting separated. It is an interesting look from the wife’s perception as she was the perpetrator in ending the marriage (she was, after all, the cheating party); however, you can really get a sense of her sadness and regret that the marriage is ending. So many changes are to come, and she admits: “I desire you more than salt.” This is an interesting comparison as salt should only be used in moderation, and can be seen as a special treat for many adults in order to maintain good health. She wants him more than that specific desire. This excerpt is from the beginning of the poem:
separation. I cheat on you,
make speeches that last five years.
Then revoke your access
to our bed. You migrate
from couch to sofa, homeless
in your own house. Keys
left for granted with loose change
on the coffee table, the spare room
in shambles. . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
You say you’ll move out
in springtime, that’s what
separation means. Immediately
I see the dogs, apart, sadder
than they’ve ever been
in long careers as more faithful carriers
of our pain.
Fecteau does something really interesting. There are two columns on the page, and the second column is basically the first column told in reverse. Yet oddly, it all makes sense. The same descriptions and word choice and backbone is all there in the second column. There are minor word changes to ensure flow; however, this was an interesting choice on her part. It works flawlessly and I truly commend her for creating such an interesting piece of art.
While it is always difficult to describe art in a review, I feel that it is necessary to disclose the pure genius behind the art of this issue. Tracy Lang includes some interesting pieces that are of a beautiful purple and blue hue. She includes a description that inspiration is drawn from “the rustic scenes in and around her Bainbridge Island studio, housed in an old sheep barn on the edge of the woods.” She also admits that graffiti, and the many layers that graffiti entails, is reflected in her work.
The illustrations for the magazine, which do not appear to be credited, are also incredible and maintain a satisfying depth. One of the standout pieces is about halfway through the magazine and showcases a gorgeous skyline with people performing many acts (dancing, karate, skateboarding, yoga posing) along the buildings and clouds. In bold letters along the top is: “Better Living Through Safety,” which of course goes along with the issue theme, the safe word issue. There is a billboard that says: “Less Darts, More Arts!” and is signed from The New Management. The page is very powerful, and I know that the world would be a whole lot safer with less violence and more art. This issue is a must-read!