March 10, 2016
Volume 13 April 2014
Review by Alyssa Turner, Susquehanna University, Class of 2017
The Abington Review is published by the students at Penn State Abington, a commonwealth campus of Pennsylvania State University. The journal publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and art.
The Abington Review is fluid, not anchored to one voice, one place, one time. It is instead the collaborative effort of multiple voices—whether in harmony or in conflict—to pursue the question, Who are we? Like the figure in Rebeccah Ressler’s sketch “The Lone Nude,” The Abington Review challenges our gaze. Her mouth is a slit, downturned, not wholly vulnerable. Her posture is a dare. Listen, she seems to say, or don’t. I will still speak regardless.
We are introduced to this multiplicity of voices with the turn of the first page. Through an evolution of the standard “Letter from the Editor” each editor is allowed space to speak their piece, much like the contributors to their magazine. Co-Fiction Editor Claire Kutzler writes of the diverse works that are set apart “by the elusive yet undeniable influence of each student’s own perspective.” These perspectives, though highly individualized, “take on commonplace events” to link author and reader alike. As Poetry Editor Ryan Murt writes, The Abington Review serves as a “liaison between all the writing geniuses at Penn State Abington and the reader.”
Like the childhood books which bridge time in Bella Diodardo’s nonfiction work “The Missing Piece,” The Abington Review intertwines the past and present. Styled after an old newspaper, this journal showcases a bold mix of fonts and varied type size. Above the title of each work is a black and white image reminiscent of times passed. The back cover of the journal mimics a bank certificate, proof of our investment in this journal.
Like the narrators in each piece, we discover our voices as we read. Wayne Arminavage II opens the journal with his poem “Monsters,” in which the narrator does not find his voice until he has grown enough to understand that true monsters do not hide under the bed. We come to recognize that voice is something we must fight to express. As Stephanie Bermudez explores in her brief nonfiction piece “The Mirror,” we cannot let the perceptions we have of ourselves silence us.
We experience this loss of voice with Chera, the protagonist of LaPorscha Rodgers’ short story “Sarah.” Haunted for a crime she did not commit, we struggle with Chera as she tries to convince the ghost of her great-grandmother’s murder victim of her innocence. Yet even as we read, we wonder at the power of our voices. Rodgers acknowledges our fears, scoffing, “Speak! What was I to say? My mouth opened and all I could conjure was, ‘I….’”
But we find our voices too. We are ever-shifting like the perspective in Alexander Castro’s poem “Home.” We feel this in Mariah Sweeney’s mixed media piece “Dilemma of Time,” where words assist but do not define the art. The piece is a template, a launching point from which each reader can create a unique story. We read and I read separately the words pasted on the bottom half of the image: “support,” “attack,” “demanding,” “yourself,” “ignore.” No order is the same.
Creative Nonfiction Editor Hudson Saffell calls the writer a “voyeur, an insider, an instigator” who “believes in the trinity of authorship, character, and narrative, all of which are reinforced by personal experience and/or observation.” All the stories in The Abington Review share a similar trinity of voice: that of the author, the narrator, and the reader. We are all the black and white profile of Susan Stanton’s “Conscious,” dissected in pieces that converge or oppose the shading of others. In our reading we lift the voices of the authors, as well as discover our own.