A large format, staple-bound magazine of “fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art that resonates with the complexity and truth of the Christian faith,” Ruminate is published in Fort Collins, Colorado. “Each issue…speaks to the existence of our daily lives while nudging us toward a greater hope.” This issue’s theme is “Earnest Jest,” which editor Brianna Van Dyke describes as a way to consider the “paradox that weighty truths can come from humor; knowledge from fools; and that very act of play is wisdom.” The theme is played out in the work of 14 poets, two fiction writers, and two visual artists.
It is Scott Kolbo’s astounding charcoal and ink drawings that most artfully and successfully capture the spirit of earnest jest. These drawings (front cover, inside cover, and seven in the magazine from two series, “Grid of Beauty, Sublimity, and Grotesquery, Detail,” and “Heavy Man Struggles”) demonstrate Kolbo’s odd and imaginative sensibility (heavy man – the weight of the world), brilliant drawing skills, and a talent for rendering what I am tempted to call the sublimely ordinary (i.e. “Heavy Man Hears His Kid Say the F-Word”).
Tim Timmerman’s inside back cover and back cover paintings (watercolor on clayboard, oil on wood), “The Fool Left at the Table” and “Traveler,” are also quite marvelous. Quirky, funny, expertly composed and rendered.
It’s the “greater hope” in the magazine’s editorial stance that stands out most prominently in the poems, printed in large sans serif type on pages adorned with abstract graphical designs. These lines, for example from “Only Fire” by Laura Sobott Ross: “But the Lodgepole pine endures, / has a secondary cone, a nest egg / small as a thimble / like a hidden sex / waxed shut in pitch, waiting for the burn…this new forest that waits within.” Or these from Carole F. Stabler’s “Ethernet”: “applauding the dancing socks / raptured on laundry day.” Or these from Paulette Mitchell Lein’s “Sabbath Blessings”: “I kneel beneath / the shafts of light / and here – my prayer begins.”
There is much humor in this issue, as in the opening of Courtney King Kampa’s “Date with Gerald and Mascarpone”:
We’re in the advanced stages of dessert
and my date – Gerald, if you’d believe that –
is doing some seriously disrespectful things
to a piece of tiramisu.
And there is poet Richard Spilman’s reminder in “Why I Write” that so much in our lives truly is about earnest jest, the way we take ourselves too serious – and also not seriously enough:
I write because I get to lie about sex
Because life is, as St. Theresa said
“A night at a bad hotel,” where
Even the rats want their money back.