Another warm month, another cool issue, and plenty of excellent writers to recognise. It’s time again to discover The Metric’s contributing demographic: from first-timers to professionals writers, everyone is equal in the eyes of the blind submission process, where even the editors don’t see names or biographies of writers until they’ve been accepted or declined. Feast your eyes, then, on the contributors we celebrate for their work before we applaud their names.
A minor note: We usually publish the reveal along with the picture of the actual magazine but the print is closed due to summer vacation and we will not be able to print issues until the month of August.
Want to become an editor? If you are interested don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Cave’s Wind’ by Katrina Schaman
Katrina is a Canadian painter from Toronto, Ontario. Born in Kitchener in 1982, Katrina has always felt a great desire to create. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art Honours from Queen’s University in 2005 and currently works from her studio in the St. Lawrence Market district of Toronto. More information, and a full gallery of her work, can be found at http://www.katrinaschaman.com/.
‘She Wrapped Herself in Bandages’ by Jo Beckett-King
Jo Beckett-King is Editor of Oblong (oblongmagazine.com), a flash fiction zine based in London. She works for The Poetry School, an arts charity, and is currently studying French translation at the University of Westminster.
At night, snipers come and take shots from darkened windows as Eastern Bloc buildings shape-shift. I am always their target. Jungiantherapy.com says this means I am trying to purge an aspect of my personality…
A great opening starts ‘She Wrapped Herself In Bandages’ as Beckett-King establishes herself as “the unreliable narrator”.
We see the manifestation of a modern persona struggling with the urban environment. Always redefining our own identity, we see the existentialist crisis, and the self-diagnosing of a possible mental illness via internet in pursuit for the easy fix. The world is out to get us. We or rather I, the individual, is always the target, Beckett says.
Enter the church; the cradle of western civilization as well as the womb of modern man. Our character returns to our common heritage in hope of salvation? The ‘familiar’ smell of church benches hints of a time, perhaps the childhood, where church going was more common, and things possibly not so confusing.
I sat down on a nearby pew and stared into the red: flames from the Last Judgement, I guessed, turning my head to find an archangel in the middle of the scene, holding some scales.
But the church seem empty. The hopes of collective redemption from the congregation absent. And once again we are left with ourselves, or someone very much like ourselves, a mirror reflection of a future ‘I’ — a sort of Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
There is the slight disdain, distancing, but also an eagerness to understand.
“Why do you come here?”
Modern society is complex. There is always a constant need to reassess our own values while meeting with faces of multitude at break neck speed. People have become relative, we are a merely a momentum sliding up and down along vague spectrums of different belief systems. There is never the one straight answer.
But maybe we want to be led, maybe we yearn for the simple solution? Maybe we are not so modern after all? Nearing the end of ‘She Wrapped Herself In Bandages’ we are once more reminded of the first scene from the church and the flames from the last judgement.
We remember, that we are always the target. Just lying in bed. Waiting to be judged.
”I see her body engulfed in flames, thick smoke obscuring her old room, the white of her eyes shining through.”
‘Gnarled Loup’ by A.S. Arthur
Biography: A.S. Arthur has yet to write a bio.
Comments: What is a Gnarled Loup?
The rough translation from french would be something like an old twisted wolf. But if we were to take it a step further it’s possible that it also is clever pun formed from the theory known as the Moebius – a time loop, gnarled by the interference of Wolf, the story’s protagonist.
It seems like A.S Arthur has taken this idea and woven it together with other elements of theoretical physics such as quantum mechanics and created a world rich with atmosphere and deep with knowledge. His writing is top-notch. Words seems chiseled into place. Arthur’s format is beautiful and it opens up a great flow in the dialogues.
Such fluidity is valuable indeed, as ‘Gnarled Loup’ makes no bones about its opaque content. Second languages, quantum computing, disjuncts of time – each coalesce to create a challenging yet rewarding text befitting its central narrative.
‘The Rentals’ by B.D. Fischer
Biography: B.D. Fischer has published fiction, poetry, and non-fiction in places like Glint, Literary Lunes, Poetry Quarterly, and the New Times. He is also a contributor at the politics and culture blog Public (dis)Interest and dispenses horrible advice at The Fischer System. He was educated at Syracuse University and the University of Texas at Austin and lives in Chicago.
Comments: What brought attention to B.D. Fischer’s ‘The Rentals’ was its curious form. It’s as if the start and end constitute only a small part of some grander narrative. We are trapped in the middle of a dialogue where the lack of capitalization and periods suggests a person talking and talking without stops, out of breath frantically trying to explain something, an abstract vision of the future.
It seems like Fischer is trying communicate an event preceding this actual text, an event that possibly caused the implied emotional distress that slowly leads the main character to spin out of control.
This is an interesting take on how to write flash-fiction. The author gives us expression and cognitive appraisal, but only of that abstract future and not the actual event that caused it. Our character seems to be avoiding reality, through constructing his own alternative time-line and focusing on that.
‘Third Red Debt, Pt. III’ by Alexander J. Ford
Biography: Alexander Ford is currently a senior studying Architecture at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and is a Staff Writer and critic over at Media Snobs. When not committed to the drafting table or sketchbook, Alex incessantly writes and watches movies. A cat has somewhat recently taken up residence in his apartment to balance the household’s net lack of sleep. Check out his site www.alexjford.wordpress.com
Comments: A graphic tale that instantly calls to mind Cormac McCarthy’s stark descriptions, Alexander Ford’s Third Red Debt revolves around a bounty placed on Grizzly Crough and the Warren, a wife murdering holder of the law who can’t seem to kill Grizzly. Told through a series of flashbacks after the two sworn enemies encounter each other in an empty bar, the story weaves its way to a violent standoff.
The world Ford creates, both desolate and poetic, is tangible in the sense that every surface, every dirty corner, every buckle comes alive, fresh as the swath of blood in the snow outside of Crough’s cabin. At the core of the story lies an allusion to industry, to economics even, and the lengths men will go to seek revenge or make sure their voice is heard. Ambiguity is the name of the game, and the presence of Mud, a sick forest being who spells certain doom for the future of the community, only adds to the suspense.
Ford’s Third Red Debt reads like a painting covered in soot and sand. It’s austere and at times severe in its exploration of xenophobia, greed, and revenge. It’s enthralling from its first bleak sentence, its grit and grime as addicting as it is beautiful.
‘On Shift’ by Tom Garrod
Biography: Tom has been writing fiction for six years, and lives and works in Newcastle Upon Tyne, having spent time in cities across the UK over the past ten years. Employed as a civil servant he writes in his free time: currently he is working on a second novel. ‘On Shift’ was recently longlisted for the White Review Prize 2013.
Comments: Anyone who’s ever held a job will recognize the monotony of daily life routines described in detail in Tom Garrod’s ‘On Shift’. It is the attention to detail that makes this long but good story worth your time.
Garrod follows the main character, understands him and communicates it. We trace his path as the story transitions from monotony into a slow crescendo toward insanity. Here is a man that somehow knows that he’s unworthy of the life he lives. That he really doesn’t deserve all that he possesses and his conscience won’t allow him to keep living the lie. We begin to suspect the crumbling end, and Garrod guides us with a steady hand always exposing us to the full range of emotions and turmoils that this man experiences in his volatile interior.
‘Youth’ by Asa Mathers
Biography: As elusive as ever.
Comments: Once again, Asa Mathers delivers a surreal experience which seems to tickle the poetic tastebuds of The Metric’s poetry editors even when the mysterious name is kept hidden. A love song of ellipsis, hesitation, and the odd homicidal tangent, ‘Youth’ captures the baffling nature of personal and intimate discovery with a tension so pervasive as to trip the narrator, on the brilliant phrase ‘flood minding’.
In all, ‘Youth’ is elegant for the way it deals with the desire for closeness to the point of consumption. The potent final stanza reveals the overlap between love and suffering, life and death – ‘a snake swallowing an unbroken egg’ is an intimate, eternal, painful and yet sexual image, and it is with the curious lens on the world that Mathers once again delights us.
‘Shadows’ by Anne Whitehouse
Biography: Poet, fiction writer, journalist, and critic Anne Whitehouse’s books include poetry collections The Surveyor’s Hand (Compton Press), Blessings and Curses (Poetic Matrix Press), One Sunday Morning (Finishing Line Press), The Refrain (Dos Madres Press), Bear in Mind (Finishing Line Press), and Fall Love (novel). Recentpoetry and fiction publications include The View from Here, Art from Art (anthology), Istanbul Poetry Review, Pain and Memory and Being Human: Call of the Wild (anthologies), riverbabble, Yale Journal of Humanities in Medicine, and others. She lives in New York City. http://www.annewhitehouse.com/
Comments: ‘Shadows’ is a verbal landscape painting, an exercise in the sustained yet succinct detailing of a world only half-formed. Reflections, similies, images in the negative and (of course) shadows create an image of implications – a setting made known through inference alone. This mystery, this tentative approach to the unknown of the forest, the female figure present only through the reflections in her eyes, combine to make one stop and reflect on the tantalising image Whitehouse paints for us in a mere eight lines.
‘Hurry’ by Vesselin Delchev
Biography: From the author – “My first attempts at poetry were when I was 10 years old. To be published is not my priority. Sometime [sic] it helps. The conjuncture & contumacy are very old Olimp`s gods.”
Comments: ‘Hurry’ deals with creation, The Beginning; a world before words and which gives rise to a frantic call to understanding. From the entire universe to humble plankton, Delchev hurried, like the title of the poem, to account for the impossible vastness of a sudden everything.
At the poem’s close, however, a cry for ‘Patience!’ suggests a turn in the poet’s approach. Exhausted by the speed and changes of the grand narrative, we sit back, and embrace a place within creation, seemingly asked to accept that we have been outpaced by God, who has already moved on to the alien, the distant, and left us, as does the poet, stranded and out of breath.
‘Saturn Turns Toward Me’ by Susan Weinstein
Biography: Susan is a writer, poet, and painter, the author of The Anarchist’s Girlfriend, published by the online publisher Eat Your Serial, and Tales of the Mer Family Onyx. She has had a variety of short stories published and plays produced. She currently lives in New York City.
Comments: The harshness of winter, the snare of technology, the sheer scale of society and the swallowing of the individual, ‘Saturn Turns Toward Me’ is a poem of constant oppression. A modernist cry for tenderness with whole planets appearing to press down on the narrator, the quest for self seems at first drowned in contemporary existence – a damning warning for us all.
But transcendence is achieved. In comparison to the seasons, escape seems almost a certainty, and therein lies a hopeful message from the poet. Identity and experience beyond the superficial and ‘murky screens’ is a constant, and awaits effort on our behalves. The true anguish of the poem, then, details the perspective of reaching this plane of self-awareness, while waiting for those we love to join us, and Weinstein explores the agony of enlightenment beautifully.
‘Anti-Freeze’ by Matthew Harrison
Biography: Matthew lives in Western MA, where he is completing an MFA. His writing has most recently appeared or will soon arrive in Gargoyle, Atticus Review, Ping Pong, The Cincinnati Review, Word Riot, and elsewhere.
Comments: ‘Anti-freeze’ reads like a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem in its structure, and much like ‘Shadows’, deals in part with the half-seen. In this case, descriptions are vivid, if disparate, until the narrator takes up a place within the next. Their need for glasses, and a love of ‘half-blind magic’ suggest a cap on the reader’s view – an impotence in the narrator which leaves us wanting more of the scene in a fascinating way.
Harrison is certainly interested in detail, or rather ‘when sight falls between planks’. The minimalist language of ‘Anti-freeze’ demands a great deal of the poet, who commands striking images with only a handful of words. In all, it becomes a celebration of the power of sparsity, with the reader squinting to appreciate Harrison’s own half-blind magic.