2014review by gabrielle lang, susquehanna university, class of 2015
The Reflector is a student-run magazine published by Shippensburg University. The journal publishes prose, poetry, and artwork. When you receive the 2014 issue of Shippensburg University’s The Reflector, you are first drawn to a red pearl necklace, the only splash of color in the black and white cover, held between the bare toes of a woman in a porcelain bathtub. The magazine’s namesake is honored by the captivating reflection on the metal faucet. The font of the title and publication year reminds me of a detective writing on a typewriter, which also seems perfectly fitting to the aesthetic of the publication. The monochromatic cover itself emits a certain solemn majesty that aligns well with the amazing student selections in the collection. The literary magazine is filled to the brim with heartfelt works of both prose and poetry, accompanied by the marvelous visual artwork of Shippensburg’s students. The first two pieces were the winners of The Reflector’s 2014 poetry and prose contests, displaying a sonnet by Benjamin Anwyll and a short-short story by Anna Seils. Beginning with this beautiful literature really sets the tone for the remainder of the literary magazine. Anywll’s “Morning Sonnet” uses a cadence of rhymes to give the reader the sense of feeling “fleeting and frenzied” as the poem suggests. Seils’s “Sparkle” follows Anwyll with a beautiful short-short about Christmas time that leaves the reader aching. The two writers start the reader off with emotion and thoughtfulness. This “Journal of the Arts” features not only prose and poetry, but also the beautiful visual artwork of Shippensburg’s students to fully round out the majesty of this publication. For instance, I spent a long time looking at the gorgeous oil on canvas called “Muse #1” by Hannah Kunce. This work details an amazing portrait of a blonde girl with a half-shaved head, who is foreground to a wall of the number “17” repeated in the background geometrically. This mixture of concrete with abstract feels both honest and real. The editors have also done a great job of combining beautiful student artwork alongside fitting prose and poetry. “Muse #1” is paired with “A Poisoned Fountain of Youth,” a short story by John Watts that skillfully taints the innocence of children. The language is gripping and makes the story come alive with lines like “Boys would bash at each other with whatever fallen branch was in reach, all the while screaming, hell-bent on their own animalistic self-destruction.” I am left in the end tactfully betrayed by the narrator’s words that had seemed so kind in the beginning. The literary journal is a beautiful masterpiece of the students of Shippensburg University, blending all different literary styles and genres together into one collection. I felt captured by Cory Stevens’ poem, “The Dead and Dying, Overboard.” This poem truly left me soul-searching and somewhat heartbroken with its very distinct language and short, hard-hitting lines. Steven’s poem is later sharply contrasted with poems like Sara Landis’ “Listen Up,” which plays with the spacing and organization of her beautiful language, despite her initial declaration that “this is not a poem. It is, however, a challenge.” There is something for every type of reader in this collection of Shippensburg’s literature, not to mention beautiful artwork and photography for true arts connoisseurs. The fiction is fresh and innovative. The poetry is alive in language and voice. The Reflector was a pleasure to read from its beginning Alfred Hitchcock quotation, to the very end with a big, bold “/or” on the final page to keep the reader questioning and returning to these wonderful pieces of literature.