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Collision, University of Pittsburgh

2011 Issue

review by abigail hess (susquehanna university ’13) and stephanie heinz (susquehanna university ’15)

Collision Literary Magazine continues to fuse our common conceptions of prose and poetry, structure and deconstruction, the explicit and the intuitive. In their tenth issue, the editors look back by dedicating this publication to Dr. Alec Stewart who was a strong supporter of the literary community at Pittsburgh University and the founder of the Honors College. However, this magazine is also moving forward with its innovative stylistic choices, creating a collision of past and future. In this international magazine the pieces of poetry defy conventional rules of grammar, format, and theme in new and inventive ways.

The voice in Savonna Johnson’s poem, “Sheen Spray and Coconut Oil” is enhanced by her colloquial language and grammar usage with lines such as, “styles keep breakin my/ ends and why shdn’t/ I wear my afro? why/ can’t I let if free and/ healthy? no more flat irons”. “Of Course You Begin With Your Name” written by Nina Sabak toys with the structure of the prose poem by alternating the indentation of certain lines, allowing specific phrases to have a stronger emphasis: “all those boys named after revolutionaries—marat nikita iosif who slouch american-style eyes half-shut” These adjustments to a more technical form of poetry are where we see the idea of collision actualized throughout the magazine.

Many of these pieces also combine an obvious premise with deeper themes. In irrational fears by Kelly Dougher a girl asks her companion what he is afraid of. Although his response of sharks swimming up through the toilet is absurd, Dougher uses this fear to represent real fears that could tear their relationship apart. However in the end, he reassures her that “Some fears/ are irrational.” Although this deeper theme is never bluntly expressed, the reader is invited to knock against the facade and shake loose the meaning.

In pieces like unfounded structural concerns (TSR) by Connor Pickett, words and phrases are omitted so that a compilation of separate declarations work to take the reader into his dream of social commentary. “Marginal and unimpressed;/it was a party for one/ on a coincidental backdrop./ In a moment of passing/ from reality to dream,”. This stream of consciousness style does not take away the connecting tendons that could prevent readers from understanding what it wanted to say, but instead has cut away the excess and allowed Pickett to get down to the bare skeleton of meaning.

We might think of a collision as something violent like a crash or concussion that would knock us senseless, but the pieces in Collision Literary Magazine offer an alternative view. Near the end of the magazine is a collection of visual art. The first image is a photograph by Amy Hayes, which shows a man pulling up the tiles of a sidewalk. In this picture destroying is also rebuilding and in this magazine deconstruction is also growth.


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