review by chelsea ritter, susquehanna university, class of 2016
Widener Ink is a print literary magazine featuring the work of students at Widener University. It includes five mediums: nonfiction, fiction, poetry, drama, and art.
On the back cover of Widener Ink, poet Ashley Connor writes “Force it, spin it, twist and groan until the words sound better. Thread the ink and heart, pull until it tethers.” These simple lines perfectly encapsulate the creative process pulsing through the pages of this magazine. From cover to cover, the artistic thought and care put into crafting this journal is immediately apparent. When I first held up this issue of Widener Ink, I felt instantly intrigued by its texture, both coarse and soft, as well as the gorgeous cover illustration, which features a yellow orchid set against a dark background. When I opened its pages and delved into the works within, my interest only increased.
This edition is the premiere issue of Widener Ink under this title. The magazine previously existed as the Pioneer Review, until staff members adjusted the name to reflect the current state of their university. Their mission is “to celebrate diversity through artistic expression by welcoming and embracing writers from all backgrounds and interests.” Everyone who worked on this magazine has done an admirable job of upholding their mission statement – the diversity in this magazine is palpable.
Widener Ink showcases fiction, poetry, non-fiction, drama, and art created by its students. The artistic souls come from a range of majors, including Creative Writing, English, Communications, Psychology, and Chemistry. As I read, I appreciated the collaboration between students in different areas of study. For instance, editors paired original artwork with pieces of writing in such a way that accentuated the meaning of both works. An artistic work entitled “This Is Halloween” by Caitlin Kugelman appears opposite the poem “A Day with Mother Goose” by Autumn Heisler. The black and white tendrils of the pumpkin’s vine in Kugelman’s piece perfectly complements the fanciful, nursery rhyme elements of the poem with which it is paired. The works serve to strengthen and converse with each other. This is only one example of the care and cooperation demonstrated by this magazine.
The poem “Portrait of An Apple Eater” by Emily DeFreitas showcases fresh imagery, encouraging the reader to consider a mundane event in a different light. The poem begins by asking the reader if she has ever seen someone eat an apple, “ivory teeth piercing skin/crunching a chunk of juicy fiber/wide-eyed, audacious.” DeFreitas cleverly draws on the religious and mythological symbolism of the apple – an apple as the herald of knowledge or of discord, “the fruit of rebellion…the very first article of disobedience.” She not only evokes the imagery of eating an apple with attention to detail, and the symbolism of the fruit with understanding, but also assigns her own meaning. She concludes the poem, “apples are glorious at being impolite.” It is a dare, a call to arms. DeFreitas challenges the reader to be gloriously impolite, to bring an apple to class and munch noisily during a lecture, to eschew certain social niceties in favor of experiencing “the delicacy of individual freedom.”
Perusing this magazine is like walking through the streets in Taylor Jones’ nonfiction piece “Night Dreaming.” As we stroll through Widener Ink’s pages, we also “count six poets huddled in a tight circle. One by one they spit similes and stanzas as if their lives depend on it…the veins pop from their necks and foreheads.” We see the artists and their craft as though we have been transported into their world.
Widener Ink is a magazine that proves that writing isn’t exclusive to one major or one type of person and celebrates the similarities as well as the differences between us.