My favorite section of this issue was the interviews: Theresa D. Smith interviews the poet Adam Zagajewski, and Mehdi Okasi interviews the novelist Lan Samantha Chang. Zagajewski discusses how he writes poetry, why he writes poetry and themes in his work. “The empirical world is less luminous than our favorite books of poetry,” he concludes. Chang talks about her craft process and how reading other contemporary novelists has challenged her to write differently than she originally intended. These mini Paris Review-like interviews are both informative and inspiring.
Second to the interviews, I liked the poems, especially Jen McClanaghan’s “Easy for a God.” Her moth imagery brings to mind Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard’s wonderful moth-based essays:
After the moth
seized up you heard
a near church tolling
the hour. And it was right, and it was
for you because tonight
your ears tuned to
the invertebrate. The ordinary.
Jonathon Rice’s “Letters from Donaldson, S.C.” portrays the images and longings of those in war and the loved ones of those in war without dabbling in sentimentality. And Rasma Haidri uses the movie The Passion as a starting point to describe an argument and reconciliation with her partner.
Besides the traditional writing fare, The Sycamore Review also highlights visual artists; this issue contains over a dozen sketches by Kyle Reed. Though some readers might relate, I could have done without the adolescent musings in Kathleen Rooney’s essay “Self-Portrait at 27.” However, I have no other negative comments about this issue, and the interviews alone are worth the price.