Inaugural Issue of Irish Lit Mag Leaves Readers Breathless
Into The Void Magazine is a non-profit, quarterly print and digital literary magazine based out of Dublin, Ireland. They are proud to provide “a platform for fantastic fiction, non-fiction, poetry and visual art from all over the world.” Accepting of work from all genres and styles with the commitment to publish material they feel is “heartfelt, genuine and screaming to be seen.” I am delighted to receive the opportunity to review their inaugural issue.
At roughly 8 x 6 inches in size, the magazine has a vividly colorful cover image by photographer and writer Annie Dawid entitled “Window” and was the perfect choice for their first issue. The photo is reflective of the colorful and inspiring contents just beyond page one.
The issue opens with a dedication to spoken word poet and blogger Adam Gottschalk. Sadly, Adam passed away on June 16, 2016. As a follower of Mr. Gottschalk’s WordPress blog, I feel quite honored to have the opportunity to review his work. Experiments on Breathing or One Moring in Hunan is Adam’s contribution to this first issue. In this four part non-fiction piece, he poignantly explains why he writes poems and why he will never stop. With quotable lines like, “I write poems to sew up holes the way one stitches wounds” one can truly feel how internally passionate he was about his writing and his eagerness to leave his impression upon us. His words are profound. In Part IV he reveals what he has learned about life so far;
The experiments continue. My conclusions thus far may be misguided but isn’t that
predicament the ultimate beauty in any experiment, any science, any poem, any day?
One prepares oneself at any moment to start from scratch again.
Words for us all to take into consideration wouldn’t you agree? Thank you Mr. Gottschalk for making a difference on this earth with your words, personality and insight.
The Front Matter of the magazine includes a clear listing of all of the authors in page number order. This list is separate from the Contributors Notes, which in this issue, is in the back. Contact information is displayed in the front as well.
Issue One is sprinkled with both color and black & white images. The eclectic variety includes "10cc," a unique piece (also my personal favorite) by Hungary based Pop artist Gergley Gyuircza, a nature inspired work entitled "Rockpools" by Australian painter Britta Stephen, and an oddly charming group of “Shoe Sculptures” by Boston University College Fine Arts graduate Gwen Murphy, along with several other visually enticing works.
The combination of fiction, non-fiction and poetry within the issue does not disappoint. Several standouts include Steve Lambert, Grace Black, Lynda Kirby, Neil Slevin and Dominic Martin, although I have to say, I truly enjoyed everything from cover to cover. The magazine is not theme-based, however, this particular volume is flavored with a feeling of careful intuitiveness. The contributions are fresh, profound and each piece delicately compliments those before it and after. The ebb and flow is natural, making it a polished read.
MFA candidate Steve Lambert’s contribution, "Another Poem About the Moon," captivated me. The imagery of this piece was supplied by its whimsical structure. The clever mingling of words fold you into their love affair with lines like “we are like children, orphans on purpose, moving from meal to meal,” and “riding your bike on the beach with me, controlling the tides, making them dance behind you.” The imagery reads like a love song, light and airy. In the end you are enchanted by their story and the innocence of young love.
Poet Grace Black’s poem "Cobalt Veins," while short in verse, packs a punch, leaving the reader in a state of utter sadness and feeling sympathy for her “gutted-out womb.” With an MA in Writing, Lynda Kirby’s prose entitled "The Painting," was truly lyrical in the gentle telling of a young woman embracing the memories of her aging Grandmother with words knitted together like this, “applause ricocheting from the roof where the notes linger and memory dies” that leave you wanting to reach for a phone and call home.
Complementing the issue is a haunting and regret filled poem by writer Neil Slevin. "Ghost"gracefully describes the “close call” of two former lovers who chose separate paths to follow. The line “as I watched your life without me in it,” caused my heart to squeeze once and then again as he wonders “what could have been.”
To ensure a fresh perspective when reading for a review I almost always read the Contributors Notes after I have read a particular writers work. Being that I do read a large amount of work, I don’t like to be biased in regards to what I expect from a seasoned writer versus an emerging writer. Every once in a while, as in the case of Mr. Martin, I am shocked by how wrong I can be when it comes to predicting the bio of a particular author.
"Soft in Mouth," by Italian based writer Dominic Martin, was one of my favorite reads in this issue. This short story is a heartfelt classic “boy meets girl” tale set during World War II with a twist. Meet Dick and Jane. Jane is doing her part to support the war effort by filling the gap in the industrial field left by men who went to serve their country. Jane meets a pilot, Dick, who she begins a steamy relationship with whenever and wherever they can. Jane is strong, independent and clearly the driving force of the pair. She is unafraid, wanton with him. Their affair is casual but intense. They pluck through life, each note on the guitar string a hasty intercourse. Mr. Martin’s story-telling ability is profound, detail orientated and elegantly sexy while in the same breath, simple and sensual. With descriptive verses like “She felt the hair behind her ear, the weakness in her middle like a sprain” and “She was the life in his throat” he demonstrates her independence by revealing small nuances to the story. Mr. Martin’s writing is expressive and appear to come from a place of knowing. His choices are careful, the lines are soft with structure but hard in meaning as he keeps independent their love in a bubble, protected by the realities of the war around them. Take for instance this excerpt;
In the morning he watched the creasing of her back and the taut, heartbreaking lines behind her knees. He was on ancient land. It was in her power to end him; throw his heart into the sea. A thousand miles away her cousins knelt on Nazi throats.
The entire story moves swiftly then pauses, then picks up again, leaving you breathless. It is a rollercoaster of a ride that, for me, was going to reveal a worldly author, perhaps even a tenured Professor but alas, I was incorrect and I will leave it at that. I will definitely seek out other work by this author.
Other contributors worth a mention are Cinthia Ritchie, Bruce Majors and Joni Bour. As I stated earlier though, all the work in this issue is of high quality and I enjoyed reading every piece and I wish space allowed me to comment on them all.
Visually this magazine uses space fantastically. Often editors will allow one poem per page, even if the poem is the length of a haiku. Into the Void fills each crevice, packaging pieces together in thematically appropriate groups. Take for example Steve Lambert’s piece on page three. Opposite his poem is a collection of photographs by award winning Italian photographer Marco Castelli. His take on “Universes in universes” is a group of photos that give the illusion of five different views of the moon but the photos are, in fact, photographs of bacterial colonies. This juxtapositioning of a poem about the moon and photos that hold the appearance of being moons is what makes this magazine unique. Time, thought, and creativity is brought to each page. The Editorial team does this throughout the magazine and they do it brilliantly.
For writers considering submitting, there are a few things you need to know. They do charge a very small reading fee, however, they also pay upon publication. They welcome seasoned writers as well as promising new authors. They nominate for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Currently they are reading for their next issue. The deadline is Midnight, September 25, 2016.
Into The Void Magazine‘s inaugural issue is going to get a strong five out of five stars from this reviewer for the simple fact that for a first issue, this literary magazine is outstanding. The combination of quality content, formatting, submission placement and integral artwork left me ecstatic to have a copy in my ever growing collection of literary journals. I will be anxious to see Issue Two.
Note: If you ever find yourself in Ireland, be sure to stop by Books Upstairs, located at 17 D’Olier Street, Dublin 2. Copies of Into The Void Magazine are kept in stock there.