The Helix is a biannual literary magazine run by students of Central Connecticut State University and is comprised of drawings, paintings, photographs, prose and poetry. Like helical strands of DNA, the art and literature printed in The Helix represents vast permutations of human experience and possibility.
There are over thirty-five images in the art section. Photographs "Untitled 4" and "Untitled 5" by Leslie Boppert are my favorites. Boppert’s images play with light and perspective to give viewers the impression that they are sitting inside a giant pinhole camera. “Untitled 4” displays a shaft of light peeking into an Egyptian pyramid. “Untitled 5” is taken inside a deep window or tunnel perfectly halved by the sea and the sky. Both photos create the sense of a hidden space protected from view, where one has the advantage of seeing without being seen.
The magazine offers a wide variety of quality writing. “The Nail,” a flash-fiction coming-of-age story by Nicolas Phillips, is written in a clear, sharp style similar to that of Lydia Davis. I’m amazed at the detailed narrative the author achieves in a page and a half. Without spoiling the story, I will reveal that dancing the funky chicken can be hazardous to one’s health.
On the longer side of things, Tom Hazuka includes an excerpt from his memoir, Exile in Gringolandia. An ex-Peace Corps member returns to Chile as a middle-aged man and remembers how surreal and oppressive it was to live under the political atmosphere of Chile in the late 70s. Despite much of the story taking place in Pinochet’s shadow, Hazuka devotes a substantial portion of the narrative to the strong bond between the old friends: “Four glasses clink in celebration. Hugo reaches over and softly pats my head. 'Is it snowing in Connecticut?' he asks, dead serious. It takes me a second to realize he’s commenting on my new gray hairs that are spreading like dandelions gone to seed.”
Hazuka spends a lot of time in the excerpt trying to reconcile the passage of time. He remembers how alive everyone felt when they were in their 20s and carving out vibrant young adulthoods, “only four years removed from the murderous days after the golpe.”
In addition to the prose, there are many good poems in The Helix, and my favorite features a dead baby. Mackenzie Griffin’s "Ghostman on First" describes a kid playing "waffle ball" in a yard which houses an infant’s grave. The speaker imagines the parents’ loss and confronts the notion that babies are as mortal as the elderly. I had a similar experience as a child which made me feel sad but pleasantly haunted. I can imagine the new, doubled sense of loss the speaker feels when she finds out:
the baby was never really
there at all. The stone
was just a memorial, the
baby was somewhere else,
without even you up
above to keep it company.
If you’re interested in seeing more quality student work put together in a thoughtful, eclectic magazine, check out The Helix.