In his nonfiction contribution to issue 6 of Glint Literary Journal, Fred D. White lingers over that “interplay of sensory stimuli” that occurs as one peruses a paper page while tasting lobster bisque or absorbing a cat’s purred energy. While the synesthesia one experiences while clicking and scrolling to read a virtual publication may not always stimulate such sensuous mixed impressions in all of us, a virtual publication does allow readers to access music, for example, if they want to supplement their knowledge of Charlie Patton’s Delta Blues after viewing his portrait on our homepage. Readers can also trip more easily across hyperspace to visit a writer’s or artist’s blog via links on our bios page if Glint‘s textual and visual tastings inspire further interest.
Another benefit of e-publication: we can exhibit images that would be too expensive to reproduce in print. This year’s contributions are kaleidoscopic in their variety. Indeed, I am tempted to fling myself into color as the brightest blues of Buenos Aires burst from my computer screen even as buildings tilt away from my perspective in Keith Moul’s photographs. I could splash down into orange in Michael Romagano’s “Corrupted Outpost,” where technology enables me to enlarge images in order to examine his cyborg, earthworm hybridities. I can even read the artist’s outrageous words. Chrystal Berche’s space oddities are more humanoid in form despite featureless faces. In these digital works, curved bodies are birthed out of a sphere that might be a planetary gemstone or Gaia’s girth. And, if, after such fluorescence, I want for softer hues, I might study the snow-covered bird as the stone figure does in Nena Callaghan’s photograph. Or I might mesmerize myself with Ann Douglas’ light-streaked orchard.
Since we are launching a hybrid genre segment in issue 6, we have also featured artists whose work is interstitial in format. In Susan Yount’s visual poetry, for example, flames edge the female figure like a dangerous aura. Typed words, cut and pasted to the page, proclaim the poet’s ability to contain blaze in her mouth. In Cheryl Gross’ excerpts from the second volume of her graphic Z-Factor trilogy, words and images compete for attention as is only fitting in a dystopian society where corporate bastards debate the consequences of poisoning the masses with a brain-altering substance called U-BUZZ. The reader will want to take advantage of the ability to zoom in to read the political aspersions Gross’ narrator casts on certain political candidates, who shout as much as her fictional characters. The jokes provoke smirks. See, for example, the company slogan that appears on one building: “I LOVE YOU BECAUSE WE HATE THE SAME THINGS.”
The final featured artist in Glint 6, Allen Forrest, brings bright colors in thick textures to his representations of fashionable ladies, grade-school boys, and a North Carolina tenant farmer, while his treatment of historical blues and jazz performers (Charlie Patton, Don Cherry, Frank Stokes, and Furry Lewis) are as eloquent as the instruments they play.
Music is only one of the repeating themes, or riffs, that run through this issue of Glint. Colin Dodds’ punchy hero, Spill-O, is disconcerted by the concert program at Carnegie Hall, which he discovers to be full of automobile ads. Other characters find solace in “sweet fiddles and flutes” as the caregiver in Jennifer Hurds’ anaphoric poem does after her mother falls in a concert hall’s parking lot. Kevin Dublin’s elegy features young rappers, who gather, “an impromptu group of hoodies and windbreakers / leaning against gymnasium walls like living graffiti,” while Amie Sharp’s ekphrastic poem pays tribute to the blue guitarist of both Pablo Picasso and Wallace Stevens. D.E. Kern’s “The Music of Another Place” might have been composed with Allen Forrest’s performers in mind as the villanelle honors St. Louis, Kansas City, and other American havens of the jazz spirit.
Other contributions are more of a mind with Cheryl Gross’ artwork as authors depict the perniciousness and/or crassness of consumerist society. In Kika Dorsey’s “Los Gatos,” for example, cats are fed “kibble of oil and discarded pig bits,” while migrant workers pick genetically altered strawberries that have been poisoned by pesticides. Howie Good’s list poem might have been lifted from Spillo-O’s music program, as it is constructed entirely out of clickbait (sensational headlines meant to generate advertising revenue). Nick DePascal’s poetry also takes a shot at media. In taking a Gwyneth Paltrowism (“Conscious Uncoupling”) for his title, DePascal reproves society’s treatment of pop stars as relationship role models. The conclusion of the poem suggests that such preemptive relationship-ending is akin to “remov[ing] your / stomach in hopes of avoiding a consuming hunger.”
Sex and its attendant complications are themes of numerous selections. Alicia Elkort’s adolescent speaker finds herself banished from boys’ company when menstruation betrays her developing difference. Kelly DuMar weighs a woman’s choices, her craft against demands placed on her by a man’s desire for progeny. Trina Gaynon’s celibate yearns for conscious coupling—and would certainly envy the speaker of Kelsey Dean’s “Little Red,” who rides her wolf’s “big bad mouth / like a rockinghorse.”
Other sexual encounters are more disturbing. Ryder Collins’ narrator is a fantasist stalker, a cross between Charles Perrault’s wolf and John Fowles’ collector. He promises to “scoop” the woodland girls into his “butterfly net,” to affix “delicate pins” to “their kneejoints and armpits.” Naima Yael Woods’ speaker might be a white wolf, attempting to seduce a “dark girl” to enter the danger zone. “Come I have been telling you,” he bids. “Don’t even knock I have been telling you, offal-eyed you, little meatstink.” And the scary stalkers in this issue are not limited to the masculine gender. The titular character of Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois’ “Dead-Eyed Woman” tracks her prey via implanted microchip.
Other relationships are more successful even when “unnatural.” Carol Dorf’s poems marry Natalie Barney and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Christina Rossetti and Oscar Wilde, weaving elements from paired authors into original poems. Dorf brings a fairy tale quality to “Air,” for example, as Hopkins’ falcon swoops through Barney’s Parisian garden, where the sound of flute and the smell of lamb help to render a scene of synesthetic intensity.
Surrealists are known for threading images into weird tapestries. In Denise Bickford’s “weaved,” fragmented lines resemble a series of macro-photographs in which partial scenes reflect in a bird’s eye. A “hemlocked / fir disappears in dilation.” Hilary Clark’s prose poem follows a vulnerable balloon as it drifts past cats, magpies, and bees into the “iridescent if if.”
So much shimmer inflects the written compositions of Glint 6. In Samir Atassi’s “Night of Power,” a group of children gaze into the “oversized red leather” of the Koran at “gold foil” letters that swirl on “delicate green-hued pages.” In Kimberly L. Becker’s poem, the speaker’s hair turns from “basic brown” to “copper,” its glimmer highlighted by an AIDS patient’s reminiscences. His shared story of grief and love moves the health care worker to the realization that “even a penny, next to worthless / can exhibit a patina the color / of lichen on stone.” Color takes a darker turn in Nic Sebastian’s poem as domestic memories cast in “cadmium orange,” “rose madder,” and “cobalt yellow” are complicated by depressive streaks of “mars black.”
Transformative energies are also found in M.L. Lyons’ “Tales of the Tangram,” in which forms morph from one animal (fox, crocodile, swan, tiger) to the next. The human body proves equally metamorphic when steeped in bog juices in Julie Poitros Santos’ “Baronstown West Man.” Richard King Perkins II reveals the way in which versions of truth vary in instances of child abuse. While trauma may expose the unreliability of language, it may also demonstrate its limitations. Survivors often resort to clichés. Arlene Neal brings much needed humor to the obituary genre in her prose poem.
Even religion benefits from a sense of humor. Nicholas Grider’s “from The Book of Former Wisdom” operates as a question-and-answer exchange between a kid, called Moshe, and his spiritual advisors. Although fragmented text provides some passages of profundity, it also punctures self-importance as the protagonist is told that he’s likely to set “a rabbi” to “operatic ululation,” or, else, to “cancel[ing] his subscription to you.” Joan Colby’s “Silk Poems” are subtler in suggesting that males of religious bent may be threatened by women’s beauty and industry, while Kim Peter Kovac’s deity proves the most subversive “shape-shifter” of all, an “ambisexual,” who “writes right / to left, left to right, up to down,” playing
with Jesuits, Buddhist monks,
Daoists, Dervishes, Druids,
Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs,
Zoroastrians, and even
your all-purpose agnostic.
While the compositions of Glint’s artists, poets, and genre-benders deliver diverse stimuli to the digital audience, the fiction and nonfiction writers are equally given to boundary shifting, as assistant editor Sonya C. Brown will contend in her contribution to this issue’s introduction.
Certainly the shape-shifting going on in Brenda Peynado’s short story, “In the Crematorium,” stretches belief to the limit—in a story that begins in a pet crematorium, shapes have already lamentably shifted. The central issue in the opening moments of the story hinge on issues of trust, and perhaps by the end, only the narrator’s garrulous mad faith holds the fictive universe together.
Not all of this issue’s prose takes readers on flights of narratorial fantasy at such breakneck speed. I’m struck by the way this issue’s fiction examines so many different stages of human life in more domestic settings.
The youthful second-person narrator of Alyssa Aninag’s “XVII” takes readers back to moments of adolescence on the brink of adulthood, as a school project calling on students to imagine married life ahead turns into something more serious for the central characters. Nashae Jones’ “How to Date a White Man” also features second-person narration; as the central character—you—reveals and conceals aspects of her identity for a variety of audiences within the story, we feel the perils and poignancy often involved in interracial dating. Both of these stories have a sort of barely contained energy, a fleetness of words that conveys the almost-too-much-ness of risk involved in romance, as the potential relationship jangles against older affiliations.
The narrator of Suvi Mahonen’s “The Fig Tree” is also on the verge of overwhelmed. Pregnant and struggling with depression, her relationship with her husband becomes ever less sympathetic as the pair discover their long-hoped-for child may have Down Syndrome . The eponymous heroine of Kara Mae Brown’s “Martha Paints the Sunset” also struggles with mental health issues, as she begins to realize she may have age-related dementia and memory loss. In this pair of stories, I’m particularly struck by how the central characters’ vocations supply them with both opportunities for creative expression and for rendering order in chaos. Mahonen’s narrator is an entrepreneur whose at-home baking business is floundering, yet as the chocolate itself shifts into something more perfect, her prose shows how finding a rhythm in her professional life helps her rediscover faith in her capabilities more broadly:
I once tried to memorize the science behind tempering—the heating then cooling then heating again process that turns chocolate from a floury, crumbly texture into that crisp, shiny substance that snaps between your teeth. But the chapter started going blah blah blah at the bit where form four cocoa isomers turn into form five cocoa polymers. All I know is you have to nurture the chocolate. See the color lighten as it gently heats. Smell the difference as the fat crystals stabilize. Learn the subtle resistance of the mix as it slowly cools and thickens.
Brown’s Martha has also mastered a challenging kitchen skill and is depicted throughout the story canning tomatoes. It is clear that the precision needed there aids Martha as she locates her old painting supplies and begins to paint, and yet it is also clear that the focus required for this artistic expression is healing and uplifting, a renaissance. I don’t wish to suggest that either story presents a facile resolution to the character’s struggle with disability, only that it is refreshing to see mothers at work, their domestic contributions and their artistic endeavors both potential moments of sublimity within the routine bedlam of daily life, with all its raging fears and hopes.
The second short story we feature in this issue by Brenda Peynado, like “Martha Paints the Sunset,” also looks at a woman who has changed over time. But in “Bonus,” the narration is focused through Rita’s husband, and he struggles to reconcile his idea of his wife and lover with the woman he sees aging alongside him:
As he got older, he kept his love for his young, pretty Rita separate from the growing love for the new graying Rita he found himself beside through the years. He took turns between his versions of her, the one night keeping his eyes closed and imagining those first nights with her in the hotel rooms in Tampa, the next night commanding his eyes open to watch her figure soft with age, the recent careful touch of her fingers on his skin, as if she was measuring flour.
Yet women are not the only characters depicted in our prose selections, bending their identities to fit their multiple social roles and internal drives. Severin Allgood’s “Royal Cup” focuses on a father, though it is difficult to endorse George Conyers as a role model, and his brand of nurturing of his son Aubrey bodes ill for the lad’s future, as readers will discover in one of the darker selections in this issue.
In nonfiction, Zak Kostro gives us a brief look at his role as a Columbia grad turned bartender in “Hustlin’,” finding energy from a classic film to keep patrons amply fueled with liquor through the night, while Paulin Reyes focuses on objects of desire rather than characters, demonstrating the way in which objects may be transformed by the glee of turning theirs into mine in “Thrift Shop Junkie.
Even some of our reviews in issue 6 bend genre or examine literary productions that shift shape in one way or another. Bree Barton’s review of Cynthia Bond’s novel Ruby folds in elements of personal narrative, as Barton reveals how Bond’s stunningly gorgeous prose, combined with horrifying current events, persuaded her to identify with characters who experiences of hideous racial prejudice and violence. Carlo Matos, whose poetry appeared in Glint Issue 5, reappears in Issue 6 as a reviewer of The Circus of You: An Illustrated Novel in Poetry, with poems by Nicelle Davis and illustrations by Cheryl Gross. Quan Barry’s poems in Loose Strife, reviewed by Elizabeth Bodien, experiment with poetic shapes that literally challenge a reader to read, with unusual spacing and discomfiting blocks obstructing our ability to wing swiftly over the brutal images within the poems. Thom Goins reviews This Life Now, a collection of poems by Michael Broder. A deeply personal history of life as an HIV-positive, gay man in 20th and 21st century America, Broder’s poems, as Goins sees them, demonstrate how America’s relationship with its gay citizens has shifted over time, and how changes in the broader culture have initiated changes in the subculture.