For such a tiny ephemeral-seeming publication, 5x5 delivers the goods with style. Not only is the publication itself small, but the literary pieces within are short, making 5x5 the ideal magazine to carry around with you everywhere you go. It fits nicely in your back pocket, and you can pull it out and read one or two pieces at a time whenever you have a spare few minutes.
At first glance, a reader (me, for example) may think 5x5 is one of those journals that doesn’t designate its fiction and nonfiction, but these labels are actually displayed in faint grey type in the footer on the first page of each piece. Almost missed that! There is a pretty even mix of nonfiction and fiction, as well as a few poems and some visual art (including one very cool full-color comic).
5x5 chooses a theme for each issue, and the theme for this one is “Divided.” Their themes are pretty broad, allowing for a lot of different interpretations, which I like. 5x5 also encourages submissions from high school students, even offering them free subscriptions. This particular issue includes several high school contributors, which is nice to see along with widely published writers, MFA candidates, and college professors. It’s a good mix of contributors, and not one you see in many journals.
Some of my favorites from the issue: Nick Straight’s comic “Saplings,” which had an otherworldly fairy tale quality to it; Michael Krumboltz’s satirical craft essay “How to Write” (“Whenever you don’t feel like writing, you can simply say that you didn’t have your coffee, or your coffee was crappy, or that asshole waitress must have given you decaf. It’s a perfect excuse machine—like an imaginary sick cat.”); Kimberly Burke’s dystopian story “Incurable” (“Dull eyes stared at us, but mine were too preoccupied with patches of irritated skin, flushed from the incurable disease.”); and Mona Sfeir’s poem “Contour Line” (“we build images to populate / and sleep to keep moving”).
5x5 takes its name from radio terminology “used to signify that the signal has excellent volume and perfect clarity.” It’s a fitting name for this neatly presented and easy to read journal. Next issue’s theme is Backwards, which is sure to bring in some interesting submissions.