Derek Walcott provides the centerpiece of the Winter/Spring issue of ep;phany with a selection from his new book of poems, White Egrets, and an excerpt from an essay called “Down the Coast.” The poems, most of which are about Spain, use dense natural imagery to transport the reader. The essay describes Walcott’s attempt to turn the Caribbean stories of his childhood into a film, which leads him to many fascinating ruminations about film-making and cultural identity.
Many of ep;phany’s other pieces echo Walcott’s themes of nature, culture, and childhood. Carla Gericke’s essay, “Father Let Me Walk With Thee,” describes her experience as an Afrikaans girl in a British South African boarding school. This essay fits nicely with Douglas Rogers’s “The Bait,” and is set in the same part of the world. Rogers imagines his father’s experience, a white farmer guarding his supply of fuel at night in Zimbabwe, where political turmoil has sent the country into chaos. Rogers's essay is beautiful with a surprise ending that almost brought me to tears.
The fiction focuses on parents and children. Sameer Pandya’s “M-O-T-H-E-R” tells the story of an Indian mother’s ambitions and the effects it has on her sons. Odette Heideman’s graceful story, “Madame Solomon,” shows a woman coming to terms with her own aging, forced to reach out to her estranged son for help. But my favorite story, Erica Ciccarone’s “Pit,” takes up other themes, illustrating the breakdown of a marriage through the couple’s treatment of their animals.
The poetry is diverse, and generous. Ep;phany devotes several pages to each poet. Martin Edmunds contributes long, dense explorations of historical themes, such as “Quilombo,” a persona poem about a Brazilian slave in the 17th century. B.J. Buckley, on the other hand, gives stark descriptions of collisions between humans and nature in “First Cutting”: “the lambs / drowned in stock tanks, that mare / mired in mud / whose heart just quit / were kind of a relief.”
This issue of ep;phany presents a rich world, full of images, cultures and really good writing.