This is the journal’s 50th issue includes the work of 14 poets, the most recognizable or established among them being David Trinidad; 10 fiction writers, the most recognizable or lauded among them being Achy Obejas and Bayo Ojikutu; two nonfiction writers; a number of reviews; and “Et Al.” hybrid and uncategorized work by Joseph Gallimore and Jill Summers.
The work is consistently edgy, original, smart, and intense, the result of imaginative, creative, original voices that take themselves just seriously enough. The TOC demonstrates beautifully through the work’s titles what I mean. For instance: “mama sense: an elegy” by Ali Lansana, “Poems Written with My Nemesis Looking Over My Shoulder” by Trinidad, and the Et Al. features “Tuesday Night in Coatcheck 12/23/08,” and “Dad Wears Short Shorts,” by Joseph Gallimore and Jill Summers.
In this issue, you’ll want to read everything. I certainly wouldn’t skip over Peggy Shinner’s “Elective,” a personal essay about a teenage nose job. Or Garin Cycholl’s story “American Necropolis #5,” which reads like nonfiction: “Wherever you go here, you’ll be riding the rails. In the past century, great engines reversed the course of rivers in this city.” Or Ryan Kenealy’s story “Uncle Dave”: “It all began with a Chevy Vega Uncle Dave hornswaggled from the insurance company, buying an obscure policy that protects families from fathers who go to jail, hours before my father was convicted.” Or Cycholl’s poem from “Horse Country”:
not the territory’s last Gnostic,
slinging his breakfast plate against
dawn, but America seen by cigarette
light, a ten-minute piss break in the
vicinity of Nashville.
Or Alexander York’s poem “Nothing is Living in the Lake”:
3. You make a canoe out of the bones
and fan yourself through the dead water
in search of your lost limbs.
Grab your paddle and plan to spend a long time in the wake of this terrific 50th issue.