The Adirondack Review (review)
Reviewed by Jay Fude, Missouri Western State University, Class of 2020
The Adirondack Review is an online-only literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, essays, visual art, photography, translations, and reviews. Here art and text live harmoniously in a virtual space. The Fall 2019 edition greets you with a collage of dragons, line-art, and images musing about Buddhism and chaos. Alongside it is a thoughtful prose-poem called “Suddenly It Occurred to Me.” A few of its standout lines: “...Her birthday / is a funeral for all she has not yet accomplished. Night has wings / and staircase legs...” All this just for the opener. Works like this are part of what The Adirondack Review calls its Collaborative Voices section, which features multiply authored works.
Also in this section are such poems as “American Triptych,” which offers us slices and snippets of Americana. If a poem could dance, “Haku” would be the type of poem that could. Your eyes follow the rhythm of the swinging hips and the grass skirts. You can hear the thrum of a beat as old as the islands. “Letters Between Anne and Pam” features two aging friends exchanging letters. These two friends casually use Spanish to convey ideas that can’t be translated with the same flavor and meaning, so as to broaden our world by solamente un poquito—just a little.
The Adirondack Review also sports a section on Poetry and Fiction including works like “Ode to Fetal Sharks in Jars,” a poem in which shape, form, and function give something as visceral as fetal sharks a sense of unexpected wistfulness.
A standout from the Review’s section on Translation and Reviews is Luc Le’s examination of This is Not a Love Song, a collection of short stories. It reminds me of falling down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, where one discovery leads to another. Thaddeus Rutkowski reviews Jianqing Zheng’s Enforced Rustication in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The poems Rutkowski describes could easily have been written in Mississippi in the early 1800s but also feel strikingly relevant. Zheng has touched on something timeless, and Thaddeus Rutkowski has taken notice, even including just enough of one of Zheng’s poems to tease the reader into wanting more.
Because this journal lives and breathes online, it could easily be filled with motion, sound, a thousand distractions. It could be locked down, all of its content buried behind paywalls or cluttered with advertisements. Instead, it is a clean series of black-outlined boxes against a white background alongside splashes of art. If the poem or article includes no art, then the stark black text lives alone. Unadulterated. Uncluttered. Sans distraction. Under the watchful banner of two bears pressing noses, the text is left alone. Thrust out onto the virtual stage. This starkness, this clarity, allows the work to stand or fall on its own merits. I feel that I have a real chance to notice all that is on display in The Adirondack Review: clean, clear, and a joy to peruse.