Volume 4 Issue 1
Review by Melanie Tague
WomenArts Quarterly Journal is a peer-reviewed journal published at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and is part of the Women in the Arts organization. It publishes a collection of poetry, interviews, and reviews, all created by women, in virtually any field of art.
This issue features an informative and interesting interview with the musician Anne King whose name you may recognize from Whose Line Is It Anyway? where she worked as one of the musicians on the show. King has also worked on shows such as American Idol and The Voice and currently is on tour with Rod Stewart. This interview explores how King finds success through taking every opportunity that is thrown her way and by building and being an active member in the artistic community. There is something in this article that any artist could learn from.
“How To Desire” by Wandajune Bishop-Towle is a poem that is strongly constructed and works on many levels to help the reader discover “how to desire” as well as create desire within the reader. The poem begins, “Be as a pencil, shaved raw, / a sieve, with openings the size of words.” Bishop-Towle creates desire not only with her words but also with line breaks—when the first line ends with the word “raw” it leaves the reader hanging in a vulnerable state wondering where to go next. The poem is constructed in an instructional manner and ends, “Lean. Lean further. Fall. Listen / the way a shutter’s hinge / listens for winter’s mountains.”
Another intriguing poem in this issue is Charlene Logan Burnett’s “Sleepwalking at Age Seven.” Written in a dream like tone, it fuses the real world with surrealist moments in order to create a dream-like state that the narrator is experiencing:
Lily of the valley grows in the woods. I smell the bell-shaped flowers. I was told not to eat the red berries, and I don’t, but I am so groggy, the floor beneath me turns to swamp.
I am drowning. Tree stumps float past. Tadpoles swim in my ears.
Burnett uses sleepwalking as a way for the young narrator to rationalize what they have witnessed and ends, “Someone reaches down and grabs me. A woman with red hair . . . The woman is my father. I am sure of it. As we float down the hall, I listen to the rustle of his dress. His green heels are flocked in moss.”
Caitlin K. Clark’s fiction piece “Variations on a Dying Swan” is an impactful story told in the third person that, in many ways, works to do what the journal as a whole aims for: showcases the work of women creators in as many ways as possible and tells the story about the stage of life and death. This story helps to bridge the gap between the stage of a ballerina and the page of a writer. On the surface, it is about a ballerina, who has fallen ill and faces death, living and never dancing again. The story begins describing how she used the pain of childhood ailments to inspire her Swan so that it would, “look weak, although dance required strength.” To cope, the ballerina imagines what it will be like to bring this part of her life to the stage and how the Swan will adapt. She envisions audiences finding her new swan even more beautiful than the last and when asked she will say, “My illness. I learned from my illness.” As the ballerina prepares to walk on to the stage of death as a testament to how passionate her dancing was, she feels “butterflies” and she tells the butterflies, “Shhh, there is nothing to fear. You have already done this, four thousand times before.”
This issue has lots more to check out including artwork from Monica Van den Dool as well as reviews and other works of poetry and fiction. So, head over toWomenArts Quarterly Journal’s website and pick up a copy of this issue today!