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Porcupine - 2005

“My name is Damien Echols, and I am a poet, author, and death row inmate who is currently awaiting exoneration through D.N.A. testing.” That’s how one handwritten cover letter addressed to Porcupine began, and when the editors read it, they knew that merely considering Echols’ poems for publication wouldn’t do him justice. Echols’ is a well-known reputed case of wrongful imprisonment (as one of the “West Memphis Three”) and his professed innocence has created a minor cause celebre among activists. But what’s really moving here is the personal account of the psychological horrors and spiritual growth experienced behind bars. Coincidentally, Echols’ meditative poetry is nothing short of magic in small doses. Here’s “Hope” in its entirety: “Immortality / and glorious nonsense. / A sunburst in my brain / and plans of things to come.” If art has anything of an obligation to highlight injustice, then Porcupine has found the right way to do it: Echols’ story speaks for itself and his verse is a witness to a world of darkness. Such a story is the raison d’etre behind Porcupine, an indie mag that takes chances with unknown writers. “A Young Woman’s Guide to Taking Punches,” authored by college undergrad Nancy Brown, is an amazingly mature and endearing account centered around domestic violence. Kelly Reedy’s New Age portfolio of deities and religious icons makes for a fresh artistic supplement, and a profile of the independent Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee again captures Porcupine in all its essence. [Porcupine, P.O. Box 259, Cedarburg, WI 53012. E-mail: . Single issue $9.] – Christopher Mote
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Review Posted on May 31, 2005

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