Hi there CALYX followers!
As an intern at CALYX, I have the opportunity to be around all the journal issues published over the years, and I decided that it would be nice for me to tell you about some of the great poems and stories I came across. I must say that it was tough to pick a journal because there are so many choices. So, although I was taught not to judge a book by its cover, I decided to do just that. Actually, when it comes to CALYX, you can, since the artwork is an important part of the package.
This is how I came to pick Volume 25.1 (Winter 2009), as I found that the picture on the cover was amazing. I’m talking about “Fix You” by Taryn Wells. Here, why don’t you take a look:
This is a graphite drawing that will, I believe, speak to many women out there, as it portrays how we are judged according to our society’s beauty standards. What Wells does in this piece is taking the concept of beauty further as she integrates the notion of race into the picture, explaining that her art “is a dialogue that explores the complicated world of racial identity and the desire to find [her] place within it as a multicultural individual” (77). Wells is thus directly connected to the issue she raises in this drawing. But then again, who isn’t? What woman hasn’t felt alienated by the concept of beauty? What woman hasn’t felt uncomfortable in front of a general gaze that objectifies the female body? This is especially true for multicultural women like Wells, who have to live around beauty criteria that basically revolve around whiteness.
Wells’ art is thus striking because it invites the audience to face what she calls the “dark truths of America” (77). I can only encourage you to take a better look at her artwork published in this issue, as well as to visit her website: http://www.tarynwells.com/clients/wellst/nav/splashNS6.shtml
Now, what else will you find in this great issue, as far as writing is concerned? Well, as I was reading, it occurred to me that many of the pieces dealt with the notion of family, and with how women fit in theirs. Some stories thus depict mothers while others portray daughters or sisters.
“My Grandmother and Charley Pride,” for instance, depicts a woman who embarks on a quest toward her grandmother’s past, and who ponders about the origin of the latter’s inner strength. What she discovers is that this strength can be passed down through generations. Indeed, the memory of her grandmother’s power is inspirational as the main character remembers how the sound of her grandmother’s voice “soothed [her] the way nothing else could” (44). Getting close to her grandmother through both memories and a quest enables this woman to grow.
The possibility to grow and regain strength is also explored by Vicki Mandell-King in her poem “Patterns.” Indeed, while it starts with images of sadness and paralysis (I have grown out of sync / with the phases of the moon, / the sun’s risings), it progresses toward a recognition of the possibilities for change (A meadowlark’s greeting holds / notes I’ve not heard before) and ends with the beautiful promise of an open future (Someone wrote I love you in the white field, / with the rest / blank). The character seems to have a blank page in front of her, a page she can fill with whatever she wants, whenever she feels ready to do so. I personally found this poem very moving.
I could go on and on about the other stories and poems in this book, but I guess the rest is for you to discover. This issue definitely is a must-read.
For more information, click here: http://www.calyxpress.org/251.htm
Until next time,
My views do not necessarily represent those of CALYX.