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Currents (Review)

Madelyn DeMatt

Susquehanna University

2023

Drury University’s Currents is a student-run literary magazine that publishes a variety of creative works from the Drury undergraduate student body located in Springfield, Missouri. Part of their Small Press Publishing class, Currents produces a yearly issue every April full of poetry, prose, fiction, graphic design, drawing, painting, and other forms of written and artistic work. The Drury students published in Currents have created an intricate combination of pieces relating to the Covid-19 pandemic for the magazine’s 2020-2021 edition. The theme “homebodies” opened submissions up to works that portrayed the negative, positive, and all-around uncertain experience of the pandemic. Currents describes the issue as “want[ing] to embody the feeling of being home due to quarantine in 2020, and the works displayed in “homebodies” show the creativity that sprouted in these unprecedented times.”


Currents’ “homebodies” is made up of nine different pieces each falling within three categories: poetry, fictional prose, and artwork. Although some refer directly to the pandemic and quarantine in their content, others are simply works that were created during this time in 2020. However, they all fit into the overarching premise of how isolation impacted all of us and our desire to be social beings.

Two art pieces in the edition by Claire Utley and Katie Lorentz effectively demonstrate the contrast in sentiments and emotions during the pandemic’s initial peak. Utley’s “Collage” includes messages of inspiration, creativity, and the chance provided by quarantine to take a breath amid a hectic and moving world. Utley’s use of black and white images with pops of color shows the focus on positivity in 2020. Meanwhile, Lorentz’s “Emails and Emails and Emails” illustrates the overwhelming aspect of constant digital communication and online workload that ultimately became prominent in 2020 for students and employees.

The writing in Currents perfectly describes how many of us felt due to the pandemic’s effects, whether it be reflecting on the past, feeling the days blur together, or being emotionally drained from grief and a quickly diminishing sense of hope. Alissa Boubel’s “Coffee in Quarantine” lays out a single part of the narrator’s daily routine that they cling onto as a sense of comfort within the abnormal experiences in quarantine, while Matt Colling’s “Muted” takes an imaginative account of the pandemic’s progression parallel to a character’s mental and emotional downward spiral in the setting of an oppressively subdued room.

A significant recurring aspect in Currents’ “homebodies” is the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on young people especially. The magazine artfully shares the sentiments of many young people that the pandemic and quarantine brought the world to a jolting stop just as we were beginning to experience it fully. Many pieces in Currents speak of how experiences meant to be prominent points in the lives of young adults and teenagers were diminished severely and reduced to lackluster virtual events. Boubel’s line, “We conference call with stars, and we don’t learn much about what our future jobs could hold,” displays the concern that many felt about their education being stunted and how insignificant certain occasions became over the course of isolation. Currents also describes how accustomed we had to grow to these unusual circumstances; Dre Hill writes in “Captured,” “This is the new normal, arrested in sanctuary, fighting against time and finite internet,” encompassing just how out of touch we had to become with other people.

One particularly notable piece from Currents is “Winter of Alternates” by Claire Ellerman. Told from the perspective of a custodian, the story embraces the physical effects that quarantine had on places that were once vibrant and lively, and how this emptiness impacted the people that had to wander their hollow spaces. The readers follow Bill, the custodian, and as he takes note of what remains the same on a college campus (the chiming of church bells) and what has changed (classrooms full of dust instead of students). Bill is someone unexpected to be influenced by the absence of college students, but nonetheless reflects on how much observing and communicating with the students had been an integral and positive part of his daily routine. “Winter of Alternates” provides a more eerie and outside perspective of someone’s experience with quarantine, while still including the common sentiments found throughout Currents.

Currents 2021 “homebodies” edition provides a fresh, complex, and dynamic outlook on a topic widely covered following the years of the pandemic’s height. The issue’s ability to convey a multitude of different viewpoints on the 2020 quarantine is exceptionally well-crafted, and each piece thoughtfully communicates these attitudes with uniqueness and creativity. Currents has successfully published a collection of works focusing on the human being’s “desire to create,” as stated in their submission call, and how a time we look upon with disdain influenced that desire.

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