review by michael fiorilla (susquehanna university ’12)
UCLA’S Journal of the Arts, Westwind, seeks to publish “new, challenging, and unconventional forms of creative writing.” Their goal is to create a “fresh, intelligent, and uniquely personal magazine,” and by that standard they have succeeded. At first glance, the magazine appears to offer conventional, classically inspired cover art; however, a turn to the back reveals this is not entirely the case. The journal is printed on rough textured paper and includes a unique ASCII design style, with all of the decorative elements of the journal’s interior composed out of the letters in Westwind. Form follows function in this case, as many of the pieces within Westwind follow through on the theme promised by the cover. That is, taking facets of life and art that appear coarse at first glance and exposing the beauty within.
In his story, “A Fistful of Salt,” Dominick Duhamel describes an ailing former priest with the following words: “He was pale and thin; his hair had congealed into thick, greasy ropes and hung disheveled over his eyes. His pillow was the sickly yellow of hot dry sweat.” In handling this scene, Duhamel gives the audience an image that, while grotesque, still presents its own brand of poetry. This is at the heart of what makes Westwind an interesting magazine, a striking and jarring brand of imagery in the coarser parts of life.
That is not to say that strong imagery is all that Westwind has to offer. True to their mission statement, each of the pieces stands on its own. The journal provides a unique and eclectic selection of works to its reader. In “Imperial Trophy Cabinet of a Romantic,” poet Ben Stevens writes, “and then we went to the park and played, / played games / that Grandma sewed in our bones whilst / womb / worlds wrought / over us / imaginings / of greatness and Fame.” Stark, winding, and removed from the visceral imagery of Duhamel, these two pieces give a cross-section of the spectrum of work.
Within Westwind the visual art is just as intriguing as the written and carries the same eclectic aesthetic. Perhaps most striking of these pieces are the ink and watercolor prints by Ryan York. Both untitled, they provide a splash of saturated primary color, one work depicting a baby connected to a dolphin by an umbilicus, the other a series of railways and overpasses decked out in over-the-top shades.
In its mission to provide an unbridled look into the spectrum of art being produced at UCLA, Westwind certainly succeeds.