Canon, Tufts University
review by emily teitsworth, susquehanna university, class of 2017
Canon is the only publication at Tufts University dedicated entirely to the arts. They accept submissions of photography, poetry, paintings, prose, stories, pen drawings, art made with Microsoft Paint, prose poems, and anything that can be experienced via paper.
When I first pick up the Spring 2014 issue of Canon, what strikes me is their cover. The editors chose a photo of a meager-looking dog wandering through a graveyard. The picture is tinted green, and there is no writing on the front or back cover. The photo strikes me as dispirited; turns out, the content of the magazine reflects this theme.
The strong voices and tones of the poetry fit the magazine’s overarching theme. The poems had varied structures and subjects, such as chai tea, club foot, and the idea of genealogy. Jay Dodd’s poem “[the smoker’s cough]” focuses on the effects of smoking on people and their loved ones, capturing the beautiful sorrow that haunts every piece of the magazine. He writes “imaginations of warmer days feels futile/ so we leave them/ it’s too cold to speak but we laugh at communal misery/ and winter.” This beauty is most noticeable in Katherine Pong’s poem titled “Saturation,” where she writes that “somewhere between the windowsills/ and/ the fire escape were flowers/ blooming, like little purple/ flecks against the brick/ although no one saw them for the most part. My eyes were closed anyway.”
📷The fiction pieces of Canon are more abstract. Darcy Anderson’s “When I Die” describes a character who bakes a pie for their recently deceased mother. Despite its inherent sadness, Anderson’s piece is the most uplifting of them all. On the other hand, both Daniel Welch’s and Jacob Seiden’s stories weigh heavily on the reader. Their messages are hard and sharp, delivered in an unforgiving way that makes them simply unforgettable. Daniel Welch’s short story titled “Virgin” ends with the lines, “The whole time the tongue had been trying to scrape a puzzle piece off the roof of his mouth. I dipped my hand into the saliva pooling under his head and it didn’t smell like anything but tsunami ripping the shoreline apart. I washed my eyes with it, rubbing it into my face and hair. I drank it. Then I rammed my arm down my throat and pulled out all my guts.” The intensity of the scene makes me cringe even as I keep reading. There is something important lying in these strange, abstract, dismal stories, and I want to reread them all until I can fully grasp what that something is.
The artwork in Canon is brilliant. They maintain a cohesive feeling, especially the photographs in gray-tone. The images placed in the center of the magazine offers a splash of color and give a beautiful visual representation of the reader’s emotions as they read. Aesthetically, the magazine is clean and simple. The pages were a little too thick for my taste, but the interior designer amazed me with the margins and typeface. I especially appreciated how almost every poem fits on its own page or facing pages. Canon delivers a perfect amount of melancholy mixed with grace and beauty.