Quiz and Quill, Otterbein University
review by emily crawford (susquehanna university ’15)
While reading the fall 2011 Quiz and Quill chapbook, Glancer, I felt connected to its authors, students of Otterbein University, and the lifelike characters they created. The pieces in this issue are incredibly powerful, and the feelings they evoke are stronger than the feelings generated from many other pieces of literature.
In “Green Line, Late” author Tony DeGenaro finds strength in using imagery and audio imagery. While reading his poem, I felt as though I could hear “glassware scratching,” and I began to find myself cringing at his intricate descriptions of nerve-wracking sounds. Some of these hated sounds include “the echoes of one thousand separate conversations telling one thousand vacant lies to one thousand unlistening ears.” The noise of the world becomes so overwhelming that the speaker cannot stand it anymore, until his lover is able to kiss him in a manner that washes the pain away. “There isn’t a metaphor for how it feels when you kiss me,” the speaker begins the poem. As the piece comes to a close, though, and the speaker draws nearer to his lover, he is able to “tattoo my metaphor onto your lips.” When I finished reading this piece, I was left with the understanding that when you find that perfect partner, there is nothing worth trading him in.
In Lavonne vann der Zwagg’s prose piece, “Packing Up,” the narrator is cleaning out her grandmother’s house in preparation for sending her to a nursing home. After falling and breaking her hip, the elderly Alzheimer’s patient’s “mind and body were now in harmony.” The narrator wants to hold onto all of her grandma’s belongings, because she thinks that getting rid of her possessions will somehow erase her life. Is throwing away someone’s belongings somehow equivalent to throwing away a part of that person? Or will true memories last forever? This is something the narrator is forced to consider as she comes to terms with her mortality, and I believe that other readers, like myself, will find “Packing Up” to be uplifting and comforting in the end.
My favorite piece in this chapbook was a poem by Katy Major titled “Caged.” The poem opens with the speaker trying to end her relationship, and she believes that the break-up is going well, “finally / until I hear the bones in my wrist / snap.” When I read these lines, I felt like I, too, had been hurt. The weight of the final word in that sequence is heavy and meaningful, especially because there is so much white space around it, which allowed the word itself to snap, to resonate in my mind, much like the actual sound would in real life. I struggled along with the speaker as her “wings [were] clipped again,” and I felt her pain. While this piece is short in length, its effects stayed with me long after reading it.