Good things do come in small packages. I’d rather read 47 terrific pages (a small journal by most measures) than two or three times that many mediocre ones. This fine, slender issue includes nonfiction from Kevin Kerrane (a favorite of editor Leslie Jill Patterson’s) and Gary Fincke; poetry from Mathew Thorburn (another of Patterson’s favorites, she says), Marie Gauthier, Liz Kay, Fritz Ward, Emily Symonds, Jim Daniels, and Andrew Kozma; and fiction from Amy Knox Brown.
Like Patterson, I was impressed with Kerrane’s essay, “Pages from an Irish Notebook,” an essay that merges the description of a conference attended by the author, a personal family story, and the tale of an encounter with a contemporary, all related and unrelated in surprising ways, and all told in engaging and dynamic prose. And like the editor, I am a fan of Thorburn’s lovely poem, “Making a Run for It,” about Iceland:
The glacier calves an iceberg—
this happens maybe twice
an hour—splits off
hunks bigger than our car
of blue and gray and gray-green
down in the water, splash
and bob up
and make us glad to be here
safe on shore
I was taken, too, with Fincke’s essay “A Miscellany of Vanishing,” 19 short segments of personal, universal, regional, and global “vanishings,” written in tremendously appealing, approachable, and often entertaining prose. And I was pleasantly surprised by the collaborative poem of Ward and Symonds, as I don’t often find jointly written experiments to result in truly artful conclusions: “The gas pedal submits to force. / The brakes offer the luxury of forgiveness,” they write in “If Only the Moon Would Stop Turning the Volume Up on Silence.”
Submit, and subscribe, to Iron Horse; the volume’s just right.