Interviewed in this issue by Jim Porter, master of prose style Richard McCann defines voice as a function of rhythm (Ms. Woolf was right, of course!) and describes his process of walking around memorizing his own words as they come to him. I have never heard this process described before (which is, for what it’s worth, exactly the way I compose poetry) and I appreciated McCann’s candor. His interview is one of the highlights of the issue.
McCann’s interview is accompanied by short stories and essays, a few poems (the issue is heavy on prose, more than half of which, the editors say, is nonfiction, though no genre classification is provided in the journal), a number of black and white photographs, and a lovingly illustrated graphic story with no verbal text, “Chewski Goes Fishing,” by Matt Dye.
The journal awarded its nonfiction prize, judged by Jane Congdon, to Kelsey Jenko for “How to Stitch Your Sails,” a congenial family story structured around instructions for sailing. The poetry prize was awarded by judge Diane Wakoski to Courtney Hilden for her poem “Allograft” which begins:
To get in here, I needed to enter with a passport. I had to be searched,
had to have your eyes wander up and down me,
wondering what I was aiming to steal. The answer? Nothing,
or at least nothing so small that it could be sewn into the lining of my
skin in the
night when the streetlights outside press through the blinds,
illuminating the upper half of
the tiniest scar.
I liked, in particular, Brian Patrick Heston’s short story, “Super,” which captures the tedium of office life with uncanny precision; Lia Greenwell’s poem “rebirth” (“there must have been language / in the womb”); and a stunning photograph by David Poirier, “Posts in Water,” which merges close-up and distanced views of a waterscape inspiring me to question how we can see what is so close and so far off so clearly and intricately at the same time. I suppose that a merging of distances/perspectives – coupled with McCann’s understanding of voice as rhythm – is what makes art.