The slim, 8x8 format of Green Blotter was what first attracted me to this publication. It is some kind of revival publication of the Green Blotter Literacy Society of Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania. I wish I knew more about its history, but despite nearly four pages of separate editorial commentary from two co-editors-in-chief, readers outside of the community will be equally at a loss. I consider myself a connoisseur of editorials (as one editor to another), but these four pages could have been better devoted to a combined effort of a page, personal thanks on a dedication page, and some more solid information for readers about what this is as a publication with some history. Given the fact that this takes up 10%+ of the writing space in the publication, it deserves comment.
Luckily, the first piece in the publication weights worthy to make up for that lost real estate. “Rats Tricks Legumes” by Daniel Riddle Rodriguez is a simply styled story that looms largely in content and impact, starting with the first line, “Pop hates the scabs, says they wouldn’t know a good thing if it slapped them with a sack of pussy.” The story follows the narrator and his friend whose fathers are working the union picket line. The style is short and direct, bypassing punctuation for dialogue, and no softening of the language or situations these men, young and old, confront. The narrator trundles through his loyalty to his father’s loyalty to the union, the fight he rallies every day against the boss and the scabs. It’s brutal to read, but the raw truth of the experiences can’t be put down, as even the young narrator understands:
I pick a battered hardhat from the dirt, fix it on my head. I walk toward all the scabs and sparkies and wharfies, the tin-knockers and the turd-herders, toward all the solder-splashers, the men who put wrenches to steel and use bare flesh to holdback, toward that pile of wifeless November nobodies. Show them the stuff that decides tomorrow.
The other prose pieces included feature close examinations of characters and their life situations. “Summer in the City” by Brandi Gaspard presents the narrator’s summer spent with a friend/partner, using numbered lists to limit the emotions, making their actions of staying secluded during the day and only coming out at night seem orderly, matter-of-fact. Sam Hershey’s “Eye of God” narrator is a sniper hired to search out “bandits” in some kind of Mad Max deserted zone that needs to be secured. Hershey’s detailed action sequences take readers slow motion through tense decisions the narrator is forced to make. Not to give it away—but should he or shouldn’t he have killed the little girl in the end? My own thinking on the matter surprised me. That’s a character well written. And finally, Nathaniel Heely’s stream-of-consciousness “Our Last Days as Children” was both humorous and poignant in its narcissistic delivery.
Amber Koneval was the standout poet in this selection. Both her poems focused on the memory of body parts—“I fell in love with the sight / of your heels” (“Running Man”) and “but your shoulders / ah / I could never love any shoulders / more than yours” (“Monkey”)—each building to delightful conclusions.
I took A.K. Sartor’s poem to be simplistic by the title, “Fine, Thanks, And You?” but found a pattern of delightful twists from the simplistic to the surreal, like “I toss my hair, shaking off the soil settled on top / Evidence of a head buried deep in its own grave / Thoughts resting where the body won’t.”
Adam Uhrig delivers life experiences sorted now with greater meaning upon reflection, the youngster romping the church aisles while his father does his job cleaning (“Dusty Holy Water”) while Melinda Dubbs in “Tree Burial” creates a mythical transformation of a mother swaddling her newborn: “I wrap him in wool / blankets, rolling his body / tight along the edges, / wrap twine around his ankles, / and neck.” And whom she later ties “against a limb / with the others.” Eerie but beautiful in its symbolic rebirthing release.
Art, in this issue, is given a great deal of page space, and is most deserving, especially the works of photographer John DiCocco, whose subject of choice is abandoned spaces, digital communications specialist Billy Gartrell with his unconventional use of colorization, and Evan Laudenslager for striking compositional photographs. Other artwork by Marissa Ingeno, Amanda Hoffman, and Fill McKee gain greater symbiotic impact as a result of being perfectly placed with corresponding writing (which almost seems written or created one in response to the other)—a show of good editorial placement work, considering the publication as a whole. The square format, quality paper choice, and full color print show a distinct respect for art, not simply supplemental to the writing.
The Green Blotter revival, for whatever cause and whatever reason, is certainly welcome. If the work of this editorial staff is any indication of honoring the original, then it is work nicely done, and well worth continuing on into the future. Here’s hoping for continued revitalization!