spring 2015review by jenna kapes, susquehanna university, class of 2017
The magazine, Exit 7: A Journal of Literature & Art, is published by West
The magazine’s front cover is inviting and warm, taking us back to a time when sunscreen was first introduced and glorified as a “wonder of modern science.” The back cover art, highlighted with green paint swatches, portrays the invention of a hair-styling kit for men of color, donning the typical 1970’s afro. Poet Hannah Faith Notess’s collection of poetry opens with a series of discrete images that capture youth as a boy is struck with inspiration, clutching the metal rings of Virgina Tech’s fence and engrossed in the marching band. Her poems gave me a sense of peace as she described quiet moments of walking on the underground railroad to every image the rain in our lifetime will ever touch, like “the public foundation and on the puddle from the public fountain because it is improperly drained.” She writes with an earnest celebration of the acts that go unnoticed in life.
I am particularly impressed with the easy flow of the magazine. The design is clean, which kept me from feeling overwhelmed with the differing styles of art and writing. As a graduate of community college myself, I felt a certain connection and pride as I read Exit 7 and its delightfully intriguing array of poems, shorts stories, and artwork.
The artwork is a fresh burst of color in the middle of the magazine. April Bey’s series of eight photos criticize celebrities, the media, and consumerism as a gateway to speak about feminism. I find that we share many of the same opinions. Bey’s pop-art electric colored picture contrasts Beyoncé as the ultimate Queen and faux feminism. I wholeheartedly agree with the pictures that imply that feminism today is not like it used to be. Beyoncé’s words “Be proud of your body” leak onto Coca Cola cans, and in reality that same woman sings, “bow down bitches” in her songs. April Bey contends that women who equate promiscuity and feminism are the same women who “always find money to buy black shirts with words written in pink on them.” Bey reminds us that feminism is a word reserved for the tribes holding black women’s legs open and hoping they don’t bleed to death as their clit is cut out. She explores a raw portrayal of feminism versus the maddening propaganda use of the word today.
Many of the short poems have topics that can be twisted and aimed toward college students who have recently been unleashed to living with the opposite sex. Sally Molini’s poem “Gothic Tale with Reclining Back Seat” delves into the idea of taking a chance and saying yes to the car salesman, Roy, for a date. They drive up to scenic views where he throws himself onto her, and she must fight to escape. Her emergency exit is through his front seat, the only one with a car door handle. Alexis Ivy’s poem “Aubade” speaks about the desire for sleep – something we do not get enough of as college students – and her cuddle companion sucking constellations onto her neck. She also trifles with the idea of home, one that we are eagerly searching for. She points out the beauty in the obvious, that “for the circus it’s big top,” wishing for the world to find her a permanent home. To me, home is my mother’s banana-and-dark-chocolate cake with whipped topping. Home is also cackling at midnight with my best friend, reminiscing about when she increased the speed on the treadmill and my cheek whacked the ground hard and bruised my face for a week.
The pieces throughout are emotional and powerful. They pay thoughtful attention to moments that occur in our lives. It is clear that Exit 7 prides itself on showcasing literature that speaks to our past, present, and future.