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The Straddler - Spring/Summer 2008

  • Issue Number: Issue 1
  • Published Date: Spring/Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly online

The Straddler is a journal that hungers to challenge the mind of its readers by publishing a diverse and heady collection of literature whether it is poetry, fiction, essay, movie review or criticism. In one of their introductory pieces, “An Editor Has Her Say,” by Elizabeth Murphy, they break down their philosophy to its core elements: “Put even more simply, our hope is to provide a venue for work that understands the importance of its context. That is, without tossing the rinds and skating away.” So, do not cower in an intellectual stupor because you are scared of the truth. Here, the truth is something to be embraced, stimulated and coaxed into being because it is potent and intoxicating.

In the essay “Enough of Your Yankee Bloodshed” by Don Monaco, the poet Emily Dickinson is used to frame a discussion about the Civil War. The thesis of this piece is that Dickinson was aware of the Civil War and understood that Christianity served as a focal point for its justifications as well as its denunciations:

Against this background (whatever else we don’t know about Dickinson, we do know she was aware of the Civil War and of Christian theology), Victory comes late – operates iconoclastically on two distinct, but sometimes difficult to distinguish, levels: the political and the religious. On the religious plane, Dickinson subverts, distorts, and overturns the Christian theology with which both sides of the nation identified, replacing the New Testament’s God with something different and horrible.

Monaco goes on to suggest the political implications of this particular poem by Dickinson, saying that it could be interpreted as an anticipation or response to Lincoln’s famous speech at Gettysburg.

In the poem, “Words from a debate,” it is as if the concept of man versus nature and all that it stereotypically entails. “I choose my work and its odd, sweet rewards: some berries, \ full and ready, and others grieving from branches. Each day \ I sin against the birds, and nightly I hide my head in the straw.” This poem seems to ask whether man is responsible for what it is has done to the natural world all while seemingly hiding their head in the sand so to speak. Greg Bennett’s “Going Places” treats the subject of people who get involved in car accidents as a result of drinking with much irreverence and condemnation:

OK. What is clear is that a very expensive automobile that is very near me is in trouble. It is at the end of being on fire and mostly is in an upside-down position, Cadillac Ranch-style. On the bright side, the good news is that this vehicle will not be causing any more drunk-driving damage. Not today at least.

It is forthright writing like the kind that is demonstrated in this short story that make this journal an adventurous and a courageous one. It’s tapestry is transparent, focused and bold, and without being pompous, it is erudite and a venue of intellectual security for those that have been starving for writing that is dangerous and has a position to share which is often political and unapologetic.

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Review Posted on August 13, 2008

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