Here is a journal that truly is of consequence—poetry, nonfiction prose, fiction, artwork, memoir, and a “discourse,” all by accomplished writers writing about subjects that matter. There isn’t a contribution that doesn’t warrant attention, but it would take me longer than the US has been at war in Afghanistan to describe and critique every piece in the issue, so I’ll preface my brief review with this disclaimer: the selections I’ve chosen to highlight here are not the only ones worth your time or $10 of your disposable income, if, indeed, you have any. If you don’t and you’re lucky enough to live in a community where the public or university libraries offer literary journals, do ask them to subscribe to Consequence.
Poet Fred Marchant contributes a short nonfiction description of an inspiring joint Israeli/Palestinian blogging project and several fine poems, including “In the Village of Anza” (“what he means, I believe, is that none / of this is right, that tomorrow will be even / more wrong, that the scorching wind // above the hilltops is the voice of God”) and “Gaza Flesh”:
tell me those who decide
who dies, did you think
just because I was writing a poem
I would forget?
Askold Melnyczuk’s story “Mourning Summer: An E-vite” is written in appealing, original prose (“I’m throwing a party for the death of summer. You know, in case. World being world.”) Martha Collins’s “white papers” series of poems is moving and smartly composed. Carole Simmons Oles demonstrates poetry’s potential for merging the personal and the global in her terrific poem “Ode for the City” (“Oh train that took me out of the attached / rubber-stamped houses inside which nothing / could happen, train with orange plastic seats / and the marks of my fellow-riders”).
Kevin Bowen’s essay, “Notes from Lands of the Dead and Other Points of Exile,” describing in competent, competently paced prose a peace vigil, reminded me of the importance and power of group gestures and public displays of solidarity, protest, and opinion. Patricia Sutherland contributes a satisfying memoir, “I Belong to Glasgow,” about her parents’ WWII era marriage in the UK. With Roy Scranton’s “re-reading” of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried (a book definitely worth reading) the journal inaugurates its “Discourse” feature, which “invites your response” via e-mail.
Sculptor Ken Hurby contributes an essay, “Postmortem: Sculpting the Memory of War,” about his work, images of which are represented here in color on slick glossy stock. His story and personal insights are fascinating: “The transformation I made from soldier to sculptor was not a radical metamorphosis. I was an iconoclast as a soldier, a graduate of the United States Military Academy working on the radical fringes of the conservative military culture. I advocated legalizing pot but restricting booze on post…I became a competent problem solver and mastered the skills need to soldier well for over twenty years. Now I apply those skills to making art.”
Christopher Siteman contributes a highly original and compelling poem, “The Father of All Lies.” If you’re at all concerned about the lies we’re told, not to mention the violence they engender, and you’re at all interested in the way art can address those deceptions, please read Consequence.