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Carolyn Zukowski Commentary Foundling Review

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My Lady's Child

Kirsty Logan's poem gives us an intimate close-up of a relationship by focusing on a bedroom late at night. Movement is slow with the narrator's perspective shifted only by the interruptions of somebody else's stereo
or the insomniac traffic.
 
The title is clever, as it relates a respectful, almost courtly (think: John Donne) approach to the love interest, who remains asleep and blissfully unaware of her partner's sleepless musings. Logan's poetry proves that less
is more; its twelve short lines are packed with careful attention to sound and diction (straight/plate fingers/wicker, sleepless/ press) and effectively transport us to the sleepless musings of a woman in love. The
lovers are close figuratively, but also physically, in regards to their physical space and sex The slimmest/ of mirrors could not fit between us. A barrier between wakefulness and sleep, and perhaps more importantly,
between fertility and infertility is ever-present throughout the piece.


Prayer

The title is interesting. Is this a prayer for salvation from mediocrity? A prayer for understanding? Or a prayer for absolution for sins not committed directly? Here the reader must judge.
 
Levyi's passive, unreliable narrator is mainly concerned with living whatever moment's available, indifferent to desires and surviving whatever childhood he's been offered. He leans towards adulthood, estranged from  normal childhood, where experience is learned at home or within the confines of an old Zenith television. Truth and fiction ride uncomfortably along a switch-back of hairpin confessions and intentional omissions, where
the narrator yearns for a crunchier cereal (is this an intentional pun for 'serial'?) of the past.
"At the same time, some of these things and people must have happened - if not to me, then elsewhere, for others."
   



Scheherezade Runs Out of Stories

In Cezarija's alternate reality of '1001 Nights', we glimpse the interior life of the story-teller Scheherezade. Told with a perfectly tuned ear to sound and diction, the story allows for some contemplation about truth and
fiction, and the role of the story-teller and the listening audience, or public. What is it like to be pushed creatively under duress for almost three years? Scheherezade knows it as well as any Creative Writing student
seeking an MFA! My favorite lines in this story are beautifully simple poetic prose, allowing the reader to pause and reflect before moving on:
 
"She had told the King a lie: that stories were immortal.

She had told him a lie: that stories mattered to everyone.

She had told him a truth: that stories changed."


Stories do change and mutate; but the best happy ending is when the public falls in love with the storyteller, thereby ensuring the stories, as well as the story-teller, remain immortal.


Speaking English

Shades of Kafka's Metamorphoses, Roy's unreliable and afflicted narrator speaks clearly to the reader through a tight, first-person narrative, yet he remains unintelligible to his friend, Davy. This enables the character to
speak truthfully, which initially gains our sympathy, but then moves us to understand the inherent complications of a one-sided story driven under the influence.

 
With each beer, the story becomes more involved and complicated, revealing more about the speaker than the care-taking pair. Subtle clues peppered throughout the story his uneducated, down-home diction (I don't have no doilies under stuff, or flowers on the table), a dusty television set, watching The Simpsons, or just hanging around in the sidelines, waiting for Jane to fall into his arms, are all examples of how the narrator is a
passive player in his own life. Let's not forget the stupidity of drinking after an injury.
 
And then it gets quiet. Has he said too much? His actions, or lack thereof, speak louder than words.


Freak Show

Hubschman's piece draws its power from our natural fascination for the abomination. Told in the sympathetic, first-person voice of Jim's sibling, the story arcs from Jim's desire to exercise his independence and experience
the forbidden freak show tents to his ultimate disappearing act.
 
 A keen eye for detail informs the scene of a disintegrating family unit on the closing day of an amusement park. The narrator's remark, I'd never gotten used to watching the other kids enjoy themselves, and so the park's closing came as a relief reveals so much about the proud family of white trash hillbilly rednecks determined to keep up appearances, even as they turn themselves into a sideshow.
 
Childhood is grotesque and much of it isn't fun. The ending is well-executed with just the right amount of reticence. It doesn't matter if we're in the freak show tent or a hall of mirrors; eventually the carnival is packed up, and the show will go on... if not here, then somewhere else.

 

- Carolyn Zukowski (click here to go to krumlov hostel)


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