review by lauren stead, susquehanna university, class of 2015
The Pendragon literary magazine is an annual publication of creative work from the Siena College student body. The magazine publishes predominantly poetry, short stories, and photography from personal or class work. Students of all levels of experience are encouraged to submit.
Siena University’s Spring Issue of Pendragon features a fantastical dragon penned across a blotted cover, lending a sort of antiquated feeling toward the magazine. The interior work continues with themes of strong hope and fantasy, usually coupled with loss. This theme reflects the dedication for Dr. Naton Leslie, who had been a part of the magazine and the Sienna writing community since the fall of 2001. Much like the tone in the letters from the editor and president included at the beginning, the works within the magazine attempt to prevail through death, loss of innocence, and heavy change.
In Margie Baxter’s “Seaside Bliss,” a teenager copes with her mother and father’s decision to divorce just that morning. At first, Blair attempts to blame her mother through lashing out, but then she must accept that her father chose to leave her mother, not her. Her mother reasons, “Your father is always going to be there for you in the same ways he always has, sweetheart. The only difference is we all won’t be in the same house.” With this knowledge, Blair lets the current of the ocean take her back to her mother and stops fighting against their decision.
“Rates of Change” by Patrick Milano covers the emotions of someone who experiences Christmas after a traumatic loss in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. Milano writes, “twenty six dead / My sister screaming holding me / Me making calls to friends who volunteered there to make sure / they didn’t become a number.” The poem focuses on the desperation of someone attending college, trying to get information about their home and about those still left at home.
Then again, in Mary-Kate Browne’s “Anecdotes of the Anonymous,” each section is broken apart by a single word, and then followed by a paragraph that illustrates the larger picture of a young girl experiencing death and the loss of innocence. Under the section “Fantasy,” the girl finds strength in being alone, but mourns how “the fantasy is lost when other people are around, and she doesn’t want that dream to die like everything else.” She realizes that people mourn differently, and that life goes on without the deceased, as evident when a boy named Ben attempts to kiss her in a cave. But she is still confused, changed. Browne writes, “She doesn’t wear dresses anymore and her hair is never in the pretty bows.” Her mother, however, “laughs and tells her that she doesn’t need dresses and bows to look pretty.”
Each element of this Spring issue moves toward overcoming the grief and intense change that happens at some point in every life. This includes the middle insert of photography depicting the remote and lonely scenery of a solitary ship in a harbor and coastline beaches with no one on them, beautiful in their isolation. Pencil artwork by Hyun Yoo reveals the damage of smoking, and what is lost in the exchange, mostly health and vitality, portions of flesh crumbling away to reveal ashen blackness beneath the skin.
Overall, we hope to see more from Pendragon as they address poignant themes that impact all of us during our lifetimes.