Think. Think. Think. A bold title, Think Journal’s very name is a promise to its readers. As Editor Christine Yurick says, “I am drawn to work where something happens, something more than a fleeting moment of insignificance, something with depth and importance.” Something that makes you think. It’s a promise that is fulfilled. There’s no lack of action or rumination in this journal, which is certainly something worth applauding. Think Journal publishes pretty much any genre by emerging and established writers. Its writers ask you to think about issues that are both personal and universal – love, desire, grief, etc.
There’s also no lack of form in Think Journal’s poetry. Stated clearly in its submission guidelines, this journal appreciates form, meter, and rhyme, though is not unwilling to publish free verse should a noteworthy piece come along.
As a poet who shies away from that technique, I cringed slightly as I read the first rhyming poem in a journal full of rhyming poems. Not that I don’t like playing with forms. A well-done villanelle is awesome; I applaud those poets who write in form with grace and style. Some of the poems in this issue did just that. Some did not. I do agree with Yurick, though, that a poem must have rhythm and sound good when read aloud, but I don’t think that rhyming is necessarily the way to go to achieve this. To each his own, though, and I’m glad there’s a venue out there for this type of poetry.
One poet of note in this issue is Rachel Hadas, who was justifiably named featured poet. Her poem “Summer Nights and Days” is a bittersweet poem. It speaks of long summer nights and the monotony of sunny summer days. There’s a depressed quality to the poem as a whole. The last stanza, while not lacking in gloom, is alive with passion and potential.
A bough has broken from the Duchess tree.
Rain swelled the apples. Too much lightness weighs
heavy: the heft of the idea of home
tempered with the detachment of a dream,
or tidal pulls, like ocean, like moonrise.
I’m not sure what this lingering heaviness is, but we all have our sadnesses. There’s a hint that the speaker’s dreams have severed from her reality. We all have dreams we’ve never fulfilled. The monotony of everyday life can be burdensome, but look at those gorgeous pregnant apples. Look at the ocean, the moon, which pulls us this way and that. There’s meaning and clarity even in the mundane, and Hadas has captured this.
The first selection of prose fiction, “Egg Shells” by Jim Breslin, is a very short piece about a couple struggling with infertility, but never actually comes out and says “this is a story about infertility.” It’s sad and dreamy. The second, slightly longer piece, “Rip Current” (Shawn Proctor) is also a sad tale about a young man whose first love drowns over summer vacation. Both pieces are true to Think Journal’s motto. They’re about something. They make you ponder on life and death, and relationships, to each other and to the world.
Lastly, there is a play excerpt from “Listen” by Kathrine Varnes. It’s slightly abstract and a little odd. Placed in the 1970’s, the play centers on a mom and her daughter, and a historical psychoanalyst only the daughter can see or hear. The mom’s boyfriend has cheated on her, and the psychoanalyst is, well, psychoanalyzing the situation. Weirdly, it kind of reminds me of Shakespeare, so that must be a good thing. It felt a little disjointed, though, because it’s just an excerpt; you never actually get to the finish line.
Think Journal definitely made me think. It especially made me reevaluate my views on poetic form. While I haven’t been converted, I have learned to appreciate a different perspective. No small accomplishment.