April 5, 2015
Review by Chelsea Ritter, Susquehanna University, Class of 2016
Vantage Point is a print literary magazine featuring works of students at the University of Vermont. It includes three mediums: fiction, poetry, and art.
The fall 2013 issue of Vantage Point is a decorative and beautiful magazine, done in collaboration with art students at Lesley University. Students from Lesley University had the opportunity to work with the content of Vantage Point and tailor their art to best serve the needs of the pieces. This collaboration with another university is unique among literary magazines and the end publication is aesthetically in a class of its own. All of the illustrations are in black and white and engage the content.
I absolutely loved all of the poetry in this issue, but I admit that my favorite was “Self-Portrait” by Courtney Lucas. What struck me is the myriad of images that the language evoke. Images like “her skin is like paper snowflakes with freckles sprinkled like spices across her cheeks” stayed with me long after I closed the magazine. The poem showcases this mysterious girl in original ways, reminding us of the beauty and power that poetry holds. The page itself looks like a swirling gray fog that perfectly captures the mood of the piece. It harkens back to the mysterious aura of the girl and strengthens lines such as, “her eyes are the color of the drapes her parents hung in their new kitchen, the color of the choppy waves in the Georgia Sea.” The interplay of imagery and effect enthralled me with this piece in particular.
The same quality is evident in the prose section. My personal favorite was “Problems With The Sun” by Derek Beaven. It’s a relatively short piece about two men discussing God and mortality. Sun-driven imagery weaves the piece together. Beaven writes, “A face as pale as winter sunlight seemed to hang from his think neck as he sat and smoked.” The younger man is ill and we come to understand that he has been struggling for a long time. He says, “I reckon having problems with God is like having problems with the sun.” That line caught me, challenged my imagination, and made me invested in and concerned for this character. At the end of the piece, I experienced a sort of empty sadness, and was hooked by how the language had made me hope that the younger man had had a different ending.
This issue of Vantage Point reminds us why we fell in love with literature. As children, we were given picture books and told to read them. I loved how the magazine revisited those nostalgic memories with such beautiful artwork, yet without seeming juvenile. Quirky things like recipes to create your own character excited me to read the magazine, and I was not disappointed. The language and art is interwoven to create a greater ease of reading while bringing in different voices and perspectives that literature at its heart strives to achieve.