Hunger Mountain is a beautiful, elegant journal. It offers a wide assortment of reading experiences. The usual fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction are here, but there is also a young adult and children’s literature section, which includes a long poem by Heather Smith Meloche entitled “Him.” It’s a clever, visually enticing poem; its form varies in the length and structure of lines, and, paired with the poet’s apt use of white space, it creates a journey for the eyes. The poem recounts a simple teenage romance, but the wonderful use of imagery and rhythm breathes new life into the old story:
In the middle of it all
A toilet flushes. A door swings open. Light
sprawls across boxes of coffee stirrers, bags
of sugar, my bare legs and back. Coffee Haven guy sits
up from underneath me, peers around my torso . . .
Another intriguing and pleasant find was the “Menagerie: Special Feature” section, which presents “stories, poems, and thoughts about beasts.” Adam Levin has a funny little piece about his memories of throwing his cat “The Frost” across the hall, only to see his pet run back for more. Dani Shapiro writes a short prose meditation on a friend’s suggestion that her pet Norwich terrier could be her spirit guide. “I don’t know about spirit guides,” she writes, “but I do know that he’s full of spirit: bristly, grumpy, protective, complicated, anxious, and has the intense, all-knowing gaze of an old soul.” And William Olsen’s prose poem “Our Heron” is a luscious read: “A heron is a how-to book on twilight. Open anywhere. How-to is a lonely word. Lonely is a start. Try saying so. Try making up and try inconclusion. Try twilight.” The piece concludes “The mosquitoes would have drowned in our hearts if they could have.”
The most surprising and distinctive feature of Hunger Mountain is its visual elegance. The cover is eye-catching—a little girl beside a farmhouse, lemons and yellow flowers scattered across the verdant grass at her feet, hens wandering. Linda Adele Goodine is the featured photographer, and her pictures are rich, colorful renderings of farm-scapes, beautifully vivid. The journal also offers a unique feature called “Widgets” in which Dana Wigdor pairs little, artfully simple pencil sketches of semi-structured shapes and floating forms with short poems suggesting a way to approach the sketches.
I highly recommend Hunger Mountain for its variability and literary richness, but more even for its lovely visual presentation.