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Conduit - Summer 2010

  • Issue Number: Number 21
  • Published Date: Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

They won’t sell you this issue unless you promise to perform jumping jacks while you’re reading it! This issue’s theme is “Bodies in Motion. Dance, Sport Momentum.” And, wow, does it have momentum. From its tall skinny profile (maybe all that exercise helps the mag keep its shape), to the movement metaphor page numbering system (“ace,” “alley-oop,” “balance,” etc.), to the baseball diamond staff list, to the illustrated contributors’ notes for the issue’s “schematics” (a rollerblader, a juggler, etc.), this is one issue on the go.

The editors’ notes suggest that entertainment is this review’s raison d’être: “we can entertain ourselves just by dancing,” and the issue is, indeed, entertaining. It’s colorful, graphically fascinating, and visually stimulating. And it reflects a combination of writer’s whose movements have been widely tracked (Bob Hicok, John Edgar Wideman, Charles Harper Webb, Fred Schmalz), and writers newly on the move.

There are moments when Conduit reminds me of a child leaping from a diving board at the local pool with siblings and parents seeking relief from the scorching heat looking on screaming watch me, watch me, and then Jessica Fjeld reminds me that nobody’s watching in her poem “The Box”:

This isn’t a tool you just pick up and use. But there isn’t a training
period. Or rather, there is only your training, and while you’re
being trained, a large and critical audience is making you the
focus of their attention. Pardon me: I meant they are not.
They are not paying attention to you.

Conduit can feel, at moments, as if it is solely about the hottest, the latest, the most innovative, but then they include a selection from Dante. Dante! And there are moments when the journal can feel like it is only about fun and games, and then an interview with performer David Neumann says otherwise: “My goals have simplified over the years. I now say to myself that I hope my work enables people to notice more carefully what is actually in front of them.”

A poem by Kelli Anne Noftle, “Life Cycle,” on a page numbered “knockout” slows down the momentum:

What you keep
is exact and inarticulate: a sea whorl,
chasing its own tail, sad little coil
of itself. Living out this disappointment.

The journal is produced in St. Paul, Minnesota, a hop, skip, and a jump across the river from Minneapolis, a city that was, for sixteen years, my home. And I should have known…nothing Minneapolitan is ever solely about fun and games.

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Review Posted on September 14, 2010

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