I didn’t say it was your fault.
I said I was blaming you.
If that’s aggressive then so is
The way the honeysuckle blossoms
Strangle the Persian lilacs.
Thus begins Joan Colby’s “Paraprosdokian,” exercising the tricksy figure of speech the poem takes as its title. Here, the poet does not deny unfairness as a human response. And why not when nature itself is fraught with violence? It cannot be trusted despite the recurrence of spring. In such a world, “[n]othing can be sacred,” and, yet, Colby manages to locate praise in blame.
For all the outrage that stirs various contributions to this issue of Glint Literary Journal, most appear to reinforce Colby’s belief that, given time, humans “can save each other” (“Driving Around”). Such sadness was heard and solace found by Mathew Arnold during his sojourn at “Dover Beach.” It hasn’t gone away in the centuries since.
In issue 5, Glint’s contributors employ a wide range of strategies to maneuver through the unreliable neighborhoods of human existence. In perhaps the most unusual format in this issue, a postmodern triptych, Carlo Matos provides just enough narrative amid pop culture snatches to convince the reader that inventiveness can sustain his young protagonist despite being placed in an environment where she is regularly bullied by dance gangs. In Matos’ Midwestern community, the “War on Dance” reminds us of the body’s proclivities for risk, for transgressive intent.
There are always those who would wield their bodies as weapons, those who would punish other bodies whose only sins involve calling attention to themselves through movement. In this year’s issue, the female body seems especially unpredictable, often figuring both as agent and as target of societal conflict. Of course, the national news brings us reminders of ongoing attacks on female bodies on a regular basis. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that little girls and women figure as victims in several submissions.
In Michele Tracy Berger’s “Jackie’s Feathers of 1982,” a young woman dares “to wear canary colored feathers in her hair.” Males and females are equally aroused by her sensuality, what Berger calls her “girl slink”—and, yet, Jackie becomes a cautionary figure when those feathers fail to grant her flight that would enable her to escape the rapists who punish her for “her mystery, / her curiosity,” for “everything and nothing.”
Another victim, the seven-year-old narrator of S. K. Kalsi’s “Kuchaji,” struggles to reconcile her mother’s insistence on obedience with her language tutor’s disturbing demands. One might expect such a narrative to be harrowing, yet the whimsical verve of the young protagonist’s voice helps to convince the reader that the “twinkle” in her personality will survive.
One isn’t as confident when studying Eric Longley’s “Vanitas” images, where bodies are divorced of gender, where a disembodied heart or skull floats against props that might suggest that the former owners of these parts fell victim to target practice or else incarceration.
It isn’t always easy to tell victims from villains, martyrs from vamps, especially when characters occupy magical realist land. Wulfgeof, the reluctant “Lamia” of Elson Meehan’s short story, would rather not feed on the masochistic, adjunct professor, who won’t take no for an answer. The stripper of Joseph Masser’s “St. Genevieve” finds herself in an unlikely situation, contemplating the impact of inexplicable stigmata on her career. In Nandini Dhar’s prose poems, two little girls torment a juju-lady, forcing her to create clay dolls while incarcerated in their bedroom closet. One animated clay figure retaliates by subjecting the siblings to unusual fashion advice. In Scott Archer Jones’ “La Elegía para David Alvarez,” the titular character never truly recovers from efforts to assist a female neighbor who might be described as dangerously distressed.
And the jury is still out on whether Jane Andrews will join Twelve Angry Women to determine the fates of style-challenged scofflaws, or if she’ll play fast and loose with the “Letter of the Law” as she does with grammar conventions in the single sentence that composes her contribution to the creative nonfiction section of this issue. Will Andrews mimic the titian-haired heroine, Nancy Drew, who inspired a love for the mystery genre? Or will Andrews turn Miss Scarlett in someone else’s drawing room with something more ingenious than a candlestick?
Much ingenuity and innovation can be detected in the varied contributions to issue 5. An expectant father discovers an unusual faith ritual that might save the ones he loves in Galen Faison’s fiction. Wendy Gist manages to transform a cactus pad into a dancing skirt and birthday crown, while Morgan Downie reveals the ritualistic possibilities in the laying of linoleum. For Jennifer Givhan, the maternal body proves capable of performing occasional magic acts. A plum tree flies more than three hundred miles for the love of a scholar in Sarah Page’s poem, while Jevin Lee Albuquerque’s travels in South Africa lead to camaraderie with Xhosa boys whose fishing prowess brings appreciation even when Albuquerque’s own line remains fishless. This nonfiction essay celebrates mindful awareness, a form of the reverence that infuses Maureen Alsop’s “Proximal,” in which “Prayer fill[s] every door.”
Art has ever been a forum for epiphanies and transformations. Colors can hum perceivers into calm or tempest in Mary Ann Honaker’s ekphrastic meditations, while Rich Ives finds that so-called true colors are changeable over time: “a gold man [ . . . ] might become a deep rich earth-toned nuthatch.” In Ives’ “Coloring Box,” “a man can tune himself / to receive signals from many different places.” The female figure in Kelsey Dean’s “Homesickness” might be crying tears tinged by Ives’ box. Jeff Weatherford festoons his universe with melted crayons. Ira Joel Haber slathers faces with paint and other media to bestow surprising textures in notebook portraits, while Brett Stout’s micro-focus allows ordinary objects to fill the screen so that machine parts become adventurous subjects.
And in Stephanie Klein-Davis’ photographs of immigrants from Haiti, the Congo, and Sudan, we see vibrant personalities at work and play in colorful head scarves and sports uniforms. Victor Gabriel Sanchez (a former winner of our inaugural student art contest) returns to Glint with images that suggest evocative stories told in the distances between bodies, the worry lines on faces. One imagines that some of the persons depicted in these pictures may encounter difficulties similar to those experienced by Arupa, the titular character in James Naiden’s flash fiction, in which a child learns to cope with adult prejudice by recalling an uncle’s advice to employ “gentleness” as a protective weapon.
Human relationships may be fraught with unpleasantness from time to time, though resilience of spirit survives. In Pia Taavila-Borsheim’s haiku sequence, even an affair might be forgiven when love offers respite as “birds of morning call.” “Turquoise and teal, the feathers / furl,” and a betrayed woman raises her penitent lover’s “chin to kiss him.” We cannot know if she will reconcile the praise and blame that is represented by the snaking and singing wildlife that illuminates this poetry.
Glint 5 presents a multiverse of creative responses to yearning and to suffering. While Jeanne Shannon’s “Alternative News” projects a world where even painful history might be rewritten, where “the Twin Towers are still standing and the Hindenburg never exploded,” Ronald Bell’s “New Birth Army” imagines a homophobic dystopia. Bell is the winner in the fiction category in this year’s contest for students of Fayetteville State University. While Bell forces the reader to contemplate the consequences of extremist propaganda, our other young writers and artists share less pessimistic visions. Alesia Gittins looks backwards in order to look forward. Her award-winning essay recounts her discovery of historical and intellectual interests via an Eyewitness volume on ancient Egypt. Aaliyah Sams’ poem shares the cheers and fears of her first year as a college student, while Taylor Venable, the art winner, pays tribute to her motivating spirits. Venable’s owls challenge the viewer with expressions that are altogether more serious than Hedwig’s in that popular Harry Potter series.
Finally, in its redesigned format, Glint Literary Journal includes reviews of fiction and nonfiction by graduate students in FSU’s Professional Writing Program (Deborah Maness, Jamie Wilson, and Faye Stall) as well as Glint’s first student intern, Ashley Santos. Contributor Jennifer Givhan also joined me in providing reviews of recent poetry collections. If you visit our submissions page, you will notice that we will be including reviews as an accepted genre for next year’s issue.
We hope that you enjoy the new locus for our truths and whimsies. We also hope you will share links to our contributors’ conjurings on social media, and that you will distribute our new web address and revised guidelines to potential contributors for issue six. We will begin accepting submissions on October 15.
Brenda Mann Hammack