It's time to "Drop the Zucchini and Run!" with THEMA's Spring 2017 issue. This volume features a cartoon by Brian Crane and photography by Chris Carbaugh with writing by Eric Butler, Chris Carbaugh, Marge Piercy, Jeanie Greensfelder, Mary Singer, Lisa Timpf, Jeff Fleischer, Daniel Williams, Dottie Piet, and Ann Howells.
Posted by Henry Outis on 10th May 2012
To begin, the haunting cover art by Thema’s Poetry Editor Gail Howard struck the soul. Scarcely possible, but the faceless lady in yellow only grew in magnificence when, while reading the issue, we discovered that she had a place not only outside these pages, but within them.
Check that the doors are bolted before reading Thema’s new, “Your Reality or Mine?” issue and hope that Ms. Howard’s lovely picture can’t walk through wood.
But that’s what Thema’s theme magazines generally do: they come alive, and this one does so with especial vividness. Thema Literary Society, headed by Editor and President Virginia Howard, is a rather visionary outfit. Their Spring 2012 number contains an etched array of chills, tremblings, smiles, sighs, and even wrenchings, embedded within narratives and poetic experiences to remember.
The current issue’s theme, by exploring and playing with the idea of point-of-view, continually asked us to rethink the words we were reading from fresh vantages and retreating realities. This was a profoundly satisfying exercise. We’ve absorbed several issues of Thema, and scores of other small journals. Many better known names, big and small, come to mind, but few have conjured the literary magic on display in Thema’s latest release.
We won’t pretend every author here attains the heights, but all seem to hit their mark; and the editorship demonstrates an uncommonly sensitive ear and a book philosophy guided by beauty of language in ideal forms. Refreshingly, the two Ms. Howards hanker after experimental material; but it’s all quite accessible for the most part, and their agenda is strictly literary, unmuddied by any overarching political or moral stance.
For a wrenchingly good read, open to the late Dr. Reilly Maginn’s short true story “Permission.” We could hardly imagine those moments he lived through, though we were right there with him, and he’s no longer with us. For chills and beyond, peruse William Huhn’s essay “I Know You Rider,” the longest work in the journal. Huhn’s narrative tests the limits of the form, and of writing itself, in a full-on page-turner that’s at once nightmarish and joyful, often in the same sentence. Or catch Greg Moglia’s chilling poem, “Quadriplegic,” since you are able.
The poet Samuel Menashe, who died last year, once confessed to us that he didn’t really “get” the Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of looking at a Blackbird” and asked for an explanation. We admitted to not having one at the ready. Well, in Thema 24, No. 1, not only will you understand “Eleven Ways to See a Spider” by Laura LeHew, but the last line, “Along comes the rain,” imparts a shudder.
Where to find real live elves? Let Fabrizio Napoleone’s tale “Chocolate Haze” be your GPS. For a voice otherworldly, though not without a sigh, the matchless prose of Ruth Ann Dandrea, in her story “Equinox,” is about all we could take. And there’s more, but it’s too much to inventory here. You’ll have to read for yourself how Thema hides its treasures outside the box.