At the risk of sounding a bit dramatic, I have to say I was enthralled by the beauty contained within Ascent, the seasonal literary journal out of Concordia College. Filled with highly-memorable essays, poems and short stories, this issue found a place inside my tote bag for over a week as I found myself rereading it several times.
Harold Augenbraum’s opening essay, “The Future of Literary Culture,” is a strong beginning, sending a message that the editors of this journal take seriously those essays which actively engage the literary community in relevant and accessible discussion. I was so happy to find that this essay is a compelling example of literary work worth reading, as are the pieces that follow it!
Within this issue, each poem and story certainly maintain a distinct identity, but the theme of day-to-day human interaction (or how we figuratively and literally fit together, as in James Ryan Daley’s heartbreakingly gorgeous story, “The Design of Bodies") is the focus of much of the subject matter. I enjoyed reading Joseph Millar’s poem, “Marriage,” aloud to my boyfriend, as it is an entertaining and moving depiction of a “normal” relationship revealing its unique beauty in its day-to-day existence. I was also intrigued by the poem, “[Today, alone]”; being a long time fan of Jesse Lee Kercheval’s, I was excited to see her work here and am still caught up in the powerful resonance of this piece.
However, it is not the subject matter that makes this journal so successful. If forced to pinpoint the reason behind its success, I think that it must come down to balance. The work builds upon a theme without the journal feeling overdetermined. The journal also maintains a balance of imagery, musicality, and accessibility that is deeply moving.