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Black Warrior Review - Fall/Winter 2009

  • Issue Number: Volume 36 Number 1
  • Published Date: Fall/Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

The selections in this issue reflect the goal of the editors who claimed they sought to “embody different methods of collection and obsession.” The magazine is rich in literary diversity from Jesse Jacob’s comic, “Oh, What a Cruel God we’ve Got” to K.A. Hays’s chapbook, Some Monolith.

Perhaps the most telling is Paho Mann’s series of photographs entitled “Junk Drawers & Medicine Cabinets.” These photos tell the story of a life and what accumulates in the spaces we occupy. Although simple, the objects found in the drawers and cabinets are telling and allow the viewer to guess at a life based on what has been saved. It is difficult not to look at these photographs subjectively. Instead, each brand or object tells a story about a concern, obsession, focus or value. Even the choice of nail polish color can be telling. Mann has found a rich subject matter to illustrate a way to view a life.

Obsession and collection is also evident in the literary selections. Chloe Cooper Jones’s “What Can Be Learned” is the story of Maggie’s mother. She is a woman obsessed over the wrong things, and Maggie suffers from the neglect. Clutter consumes them and the shocking and powerful ending illustrates how dangerous those obsessions can be.

The editors claim Joanna Klick’s poetry “delves into the junkyards that accompany failed relationships” and the line “Having stored away such / riches, you press into the / damages as if they could / save you” from “Junkyard” is a well-crafted example of what we hang on to after a relationship has ended.

Lily Hoang’s selection from her book “Invisible Women” is a piece that explores the obsession of women over women. She writes in a plural “we,” a critical voice that is collective and omniscient, observing nameless women. Hoang writes, “The woman down the hall, we don’t want to name her. It’s better that way. To have a woman without name because we know that if she had a name, we couldn’t watch her as we do, we couldn’t look at her flaws, and we couldn’t pass judgment.” The style and tone of the piece reflect the obsessive nature of the women in the story and effectively draw in the reader.

The Black Warrior Review concludes with K.A. Hays’s chapbook Some Monolith, which contains poems such as “Imagine Shelly Drowning” and “Just as, After a Point, Job Cried Out” that allow for us a context for deeper understanding.

In its entirety, this issue does ask us to “look on as the constructions and permutations of language push the pen and ultimately the alphabet to their very limits.”

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Review Posted on March 14, 2010

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