Wit, Charm, Depth. Lit Mag is Full of Compelling Works From Diverse Writers
Review of Post Road, Spring/Summer 2015 by Joanne Spencer
Originally founded in New York City in 1999, this unique gem is now partnered with Boston College as a non-profit literary magazine published bi-annually. They accept unsolicited material that include, but not limited to, poetry, fiction, non-fiction and critiques to name just a few.
The magazine is delightfully jam-packed with an array of talented artists of the written word and of the hand, starting with the cover collage entitled, “High Priestess” by the gifted artist, Eugenia Loli. Ms. Loli, originally from Greece, is a filmmaker and vintage collage artist who now calls California her home.
Sixteen pages of color grace the section titled, Figure 8 + 8, all offering a mixed media meal for the eye. Two of my favorites include Oscar Martinez Heredia’s drawing, mixed media on watercolor, La Calaca. This piece has this strange juxtaposition of delicate feminism and dark betrayal and eloquently portrays The Mexican Day of the Dead Festival of which Calaca is representative of. I also favored Mike Cockrill’s, The Newspaper Reader, and oil on print masterpiece that evokes a remembrance of early 20th Century Cubism. All of the contributors in this section are worth further study, color and a rested eye as opposed to pressed together.
The Contributors Notes reveal fifty-four writers/artists, most of whom I would consider seasoned with just a few beginning writers in the mix of this 207-page volume. I personally gravitate towards the newer, less published authors being one myself.
Oddly enough, one my favorite pieces of this issue and the only one that is non-fiction, is from Nadine Ellsworth-Moran, a new voice in the writing arena but one I feel we will be seeing more of. Ms. Ellsworth-Moran is an ordained Presbyterian Minister from Charlotte, NC. She explains in her Author Note that she hope is to “bridge the sacred and the secular” and “give voice to the in-between place we all live”. Her non-fiction contribution, "Notes from a Suicide," gripped my heart with her opening sentence, ‘“My father, the historian, could have started the story of my grandmother’s death with this: “Before she shot herself in the chest, we had one last phone call.”’ Her hope will be accomplished with writing like this.
This moving and mournful story gave a face to the painful reality of suicide by telling this tragedy in a slow motion and unfolding way that lures the reader into the sorrow but leaves us just enough outside the “window” to see the bigger picture and thus the impact of suicide on everyone affected within the family unit. Her wrap up of the memory served as a public service announcement of sorts and was not only effective but poignant. I have shared her line about Sylvia Plath with half a dozen of my writing friends who were awed as well. A sampling of each issue is available online; I suggest you check this one out for sure.
The Guest Folio of this issue includes fifteen poems with no set theme. Deciding to read them all, I started with the first one by Robert Pack, titled "Clayfield’s Vampire Fantasy." I imagine that this poem sits comfortably within the pages of Mr. Pack’s collection of poetry, Clayfield Holds on, however in this setting, the poem, while well-written, is lost. The reader can’t identify with the subject matter because the poem is part of a collection and therefore it sits without context. Including a post-script to this effect would have been a beneficial tool.
"Here Begins the Prologue to the Life of Blessed Anthony" was my favorite poem from this section. This moment-driven story with clever verse and distinct word choices was a compelling piece of poetry that was not only rich with imagery but told of a prelude to the wondrous life that lay ahead for Anthony. Author David Craig, a Professor of Creative Writing at Franciscan University in West Virginia, uses words like an artist chooses his pallet, carefully and unpredictably but always with forethought of the final work.
The other poem that stood out for me was created by seasoned writer and fine arts painter, Kathleen Markowitz. Her submission entitled "Small Losses" is an endearing contribution to this issue with a story of the loss of her small pet bird and her description of how she felt as she held its lifeless body in her “cupped” hands anticipating, almost willing, for it to “call out to the backyard sparrows.” This poem can be either be interpreted to be light or heavy on the heart, depending on the reader’s beliefs.
The fiction section is quite impressive with ten published stories ranging from light and funny to serious and memorable. Matt Tompkins’ plucky short story, "Seeking Advice and/or Assistance re: Mountain Lions," is both smart and cleverly crafted, oh and extremely entertaining. I read it to my 7-year-old neighbor who laughed with wide eyes all the way through and then at the end stated, “I wish we had a basement for Mountain Lions” (no basements here in the South.) This fiction piece was a refreshing read.
The second story I would like to comment on is Phil Hearn’s story, "Chameleon." First off, congrats to you Mr. Hearn on your first publication! Well-deserved and may I say quite an accomplishment to have your first publication in such a prestigious literary journal. I truly enjoyed the style of his writing. He told it as if we were sitting across from another at lunch. The story is quirky, awkward and random yet…amazingly hypnotic. I couldn’t wait for the conclusion which is tragically sad and while upsetting, it reveals the sincere darkness of one woman’s terror, her mind and all the things that fear and loss can do to a person.
Other remarkable pieces for me personally were "Student Paper" by Justin Taylor, "In Her Place" by Maria D’Alessandro and the clever and distinctive theatre contribution by Ben Merriman entitled, "Path Finders: A Play."
For writers considering submitting I say go for it! While there is a small reading fee, a publication credit in this journal would be worth it. As I stated earlier, they accept submissions of unsolicited poetry, fiction, nonfiction, short plays, monologues and visual art. Be mindful of their reading periods.
Overall, this journal is full of compelling works with diverse writers who offer something for everyone. I want to give it 4 ½ stars but that’s not an option so I will bump it to 5 for its varied offerings (Recommendations, Critiques etc.) making it a comprehensive and most gratifying read.