This magazine’s name was recently changed from The Flagler Review (which is now its subtitle) to FLARE, and the content of this issue sparkles in ways that justify the title. In addition to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art, FLARE includes screenplays/plays as a regular feature.
The managing editors convey a sense of excitement as they introduce this issue: “We respect our roots, but it is time for us to venture into the unknown. It’s time for us to experiment with traditional and non-traditional works, to seek new and unique voices from across the world.” Contributor notes reveal associations with China, Greece, London, Samoa, India, Hong Kong, and the Czech Republic, as well as many states beyond Florida.
Two poems by Sarah Brown Weitzman, who retired to Florida after a career as a New York academic, grab the reader with their spare and passionate language. “In Rooms” and “Redheads” both glance gracefully off sexual allusions, but the power of each poem arises from its entirety. These are the last few lines of “Redheads”:
Though we’ve known the envy as ancient as henna
of other women, we grow up feeling different
within schools of darks, even blonds
and in being different there is pain and some doubt
about the recessive genes that produced us.
Odd though that we’re continually accused
of unnatural hues: “Are those tresses truly red?”
we’ve been asked all of our lives.
“Yes,” we reply, “really red,” proud too
of the private fire we can prove it by.
Among the four short stories, Athena Sasso’s “The Account in Question” opens with a burst of fluent charm flavored with what the author clearly likes about the South:
I was born on a pool table at the Flora-Bama Lounge. Mother told me about it when I was nine years old. Imagine the harm. Her account featured a banging window shutter and her moaning, one leg hiked up on the Florida side and the other hiked up on the Alabama side. The summer I turned fifteen, Mike Harper gave me a Playboy magazine for my birthday, and there was Miss July, laid out on a pool table with a cue ball balanced on her belly button. In a flash I knew Mother had confused the birth with the conception.
KJ Hannah Greenberg’s nonfiction piece “Writing as More than Bridges” includes the phrase “occasional weird choices in diction.” In their selection of the three works included here, the nonfiction editors of the magazine clearly subscribe to the elevation of such choices, perhaps indicating their version of venturing into the unknown.
The featured visual artist, Brianna Angelakis, contributes the four-color cover “Artemis on the Hunt” as well as three pieces reproduced in black and white, each representing a female figure. Two of these strong works, “Neurasthenia” and “The Crow Catcher,” powerfully convey emotion through realistic facial features and background detail imaginatively rendered. Angelakis, born in 1990, evinces a compelling talent that should have a bright future.
Laurence Klavan contributes the short two-character play, simply titled “Play,” in which he indicates that the children’s roles should be played by adults. In the play, the characters reveal family secrets and an innocent take on gender battles in their game of make-believe. Klavan’s dialogue captures both the idiosyncrasies and the universalities of the boy and the girl, as in this exchange where they act out the story of their first meeting:
ANNABELLE: I’ll play me. You play you. The story starts. Hi, Aaron. I’m Annabelle. I’m going to be your new strep-sister.
AARON: Oh yeah? I hate you! Having a strep-sister is like my butt!
[He pantomimes punching her and throwing her to the floor.]
ANNABELLE: What’d you do that for?!
AARON: Because that’s what I did when we met.
ANNABELLE: You were supposed to play that you were nice!
AARON: I was?
ANNABELLE: Yes. Now I’ll do this.
[She mimes kicking him over and over in the shins.]
AARON: But that didn’t happen!
ANNABELLE: Well, it should have! Or what’s the point of playing?
AARON: Oh . . . I get it now.
Readers of FLARE should get it now, after taking in the delights of this issue. Humor, intensity, insight, compassion, and a welcome humility mark the works presented here. Henry M. Flagler would be proud.