Comparison Review: Robert Giordano

As lovers of literature, we live in very perilous times. Instead of spending their time feasting their brains upon literature, people are frying them in the fiery pit known as the internet. However my brave fellow citizens of the literary world need not fear for the safety of their literary souls, for there is still one sanctuary left open, one beacon of hope for the weary poetic soul: The literary magazine. For centuries, these hallowed volumes of literature have been kept safe from the deranged schemings of the entity known as “The Man”. They are a reflection of human nature, the beautiful and the ugly, the normal and the abnormal alike. When a literary magazine succeeds, it can soar to new literary heights like a majestic eagle. However when a Literary magazine fails in its literary mission, it falls shamefully to the ground like an overweight dodo bird, and its existence is left to dwell in the terrible corners of our nightmares. Two members of this library of Literary magazines are The Windy Hill Review and Mush. Both of these fine magazines come to us from the University of Wisconsin colleges system. The Windy Hill hails from UW-Waukesha and Mush  is based UW-Marathon County. In reading the 2014 editions of these magazines readers will find that while Mush is better literary magazine in terms of its presentation, both magazines are equal in terms of the quality of their respective prose, poetry, and art works.

The first consideration that must be made when comparing the two magazines should be how a magazine presents itself. Now let me be clear, I am not advocating that books should be judged on their cover, but all literary works do need to present themselves well. It allows the reader to not only have a glimpse of the quality, but if a literary magazine is presented well, it creates less distractions for the reader. The covers of both magazines are both well done. The cover of THe Windy Hill Review has a green border with a hand-drawn picture of a house in the middle of the woods at night-time. Mush’s cover is a combination of mostly dark colors with a lot of “shadow triangles”. Both of these covers do grab my attention. On the back cover of Mush we find the magazine’s manifesto. Manifesto’s and Letter’s from the editor are nice to have in literary magazines simply because they can help new readers know more about the content and mission of the Literary magazine. It can serve as good starting point for the reader. Mush indeed, has an incredibly awesome manifesto. It states “ We are available on lunch breaks, holidays, sick days and long commutes through traffic.”(Mush, 2014). With this statement the manifesto seems to be effectively saying, this magazine is readily accessible. The manifesto also declares that “As the editors, it’s our job to connect hungry artists with lonely readers; readers who are still in the game despite bad first impressions and terrible first dates.”(Mush 2014). I enjoyed this statement largely because it informs the reader that his Magazine was made solely for the readers. That it is there to make the reader’s life better. Mush also has in the the front page a letter from the Managing editor, Shawn Igers. This letters what Mush and  gives us some background about the magazine. Unfortunately, for The Windy Hill Review, I was not able to find any Manifesto or letter from the editor in this magazine. Not finding this made me shed many watery tears.  If presentation were a first round of Mortal Kombat, Mush would have given Windy Hill a sound beating.

However, this review is as one popular song artist whose name I can’t remember said: “Its not over!” Luckily for us we don’t read Literary Magazines based on whether they are wearing this season latest yoga  pants fashion. Rather we primarily judge them on the content that we find inside the Literary magazine. Its like what another wise man once said: “It’s the inside of the cookie that counts, not the outside”. One delicious part of that literary magazine cookie is poetry. Poetry is something that can inspire us to wonderfully great things, or it can motivate us to gnaw our own legs off. Fortunately for us the poetry found in both of these literary magazines are not of Vogon origin. The Windy Hill has several great examples of poetry that can be found within it. But one great example from the magazine is The Culver’s Deluxe by Hannah Jones. This awesomely  righteous poem is about a girl and her struggle for hunger as she waits for some scrumptious food from that slice of heaven known as Culvers( If you have not heard of Culvers I command that you put down this review, find the nearest Culvers location and eat there. I have just changed your life forever and you are welcome).  Here is a delightful snippet from this poem

A burger is placed before me.

Everything, now, is as it should be,

a royal blue tray now maintaining my sanity

Its soothes and comforts me,

lulls my stomach to sleep.

The color blue begins

to make me happy.

I see a pickle, seasick no more.

At first on this trip I feel nauseous,

royal blue unsettling me,

but now I welcome the grease that provides for me momentarily.

Instant satisfaction that keeps me, holds me, cradles me.

Reading this poem almost made me believe that the editors of WIndy Hill were Nobel-prize winning geniuses. This poem made me feel as if I was in the actual restaurant Culvers and made me want to go there to partake of its ambrosia-like food. Its personification and use of the color blue throughout the entire poem is superbly well done. However, Mush does not disappoint us in the slightest when it comes to wonderful poetry. In particular one there was one poem  that caught my eye. Don’t Say the F Word by Hayley Wiessmann. Well just looking at the title you might expect this poem to be about a particular unpleasant four-letter word. However titles can be deceivingly wonderful, and this poem instead conveys a powerful message about the power of womanhood. The poem describes the ways that how men see women, and then goes on to say what in their own opinion who they really are. Here are a few lines:

We are not mermaids, we are sirens. We sing so sweetly you will not

realize your fate until it is too late

When you read us stories of how we needed a prince to save us from our misery

we stopped wanting to be the princess. We wanted to be the dragon.

This poem moved me. It made me think about this particular subject, and question my current way of thinking. This really is one thing  poetry is supposed to do. It can get you to change your way of thinking. These poems are clear examples of what really literary magazines should publish. Literary magazines are supposed contain content that reflect upon things that society is dealing with. They are supposed to challenge our viewpoints and help us reach new understanding.

In addition to poetry, we cannot have a true literary magazine without prose. From hair salon gossip to Greek epics, everyone loves a good story. Prose is simply the written form of that story. Windy Hill and Mush both have those stories. One great example from Mush is the story A Warrior’s Death by Matt Habeck. How would I describe this Story you ask?  It is an awesomely flaming round-house kick to your soul. Basically the story begins with our red-bearded protagonist working in a gas station. The day seems to be gjust your your average day when two evil robbers(who probably think star wars episode one was a good movie)  enter the store. They kill an old man, and this angers our red-bearded hero, who attacks both robbers with a box cutter. Alas, while his mighty blows of righteousness succeed in bringing down our villain, he is tragically slain in the end.But he awakens! This is what he sees: “A small host of viking warriors rushed out of the forest, and encircled me before I could bet back to the boat. The tallest among them, his armor worn from use, braided red beard extending to his chest, stood forward and spoke. ‘With a mighty beard like yours. I’d bet you are one of my kin! We haven’t had a newcomer to Valhalla in ages! Tell me, oh warrior, of your final battle!” We the reader are then left to assume that he kicks major butt at the battle of Valhalla. Seriously, that was a pretty epic piece. It is a modern story that literally feels like a Viking epic when you read it.   Windy Hill had a surprisingly large number of longer prose pieces in it. A nasty Habit by Paul Klipstein is one of those pieces. It is about a man with a smoking problem who works at a butcher shop. He meets a woman who is smoking. To help himself deal with the addiction. He murders her and cuts out her lung. Dang that escalated quickly. Here is a sample of this work: “I knew that his women was going to die soon, and I believed that her death was going to be by my hands. But after feeling this incredible power of having killed, I knew that all I would care for or crave in this world would be several, sweet, deep, long drags off a cigarette, followed by the most relaxed exhaltations. Oh, if I could just indulge ONE. More. Time.” That is one of the most creepiest things that I have ever read in my entire life. This piece gave me chills. It was violent and gory and did not make me feel happy thoughts. But that is why  its a good piece. it makes me feel something when I read it, it draws an emotional response from me. This piece shows that his magazine wanted to take a risk.

All in all, Mush is a better magazine due to its layout, and individual presentation. However The Windy Hill Review 2014 is definitely not trash. The literary work contained within it is worth reading. I honestly believe that these literary magazines are a lot like comic book superheros in their teenage years. They have a long a way to go before they can kick evil’s hairy behind. Some improvements might include better presentation or a more determined manifesto that adds boldness in a literary magazine. Both works have a lot of potential,  and with work, determination and effort, they can be more than what they are. They can that beacon we need to save the literary soul. They can be, Literary Legends.

On Beginnings and Goals: Notes From Our Editors

I’m not quite sure how to describe how excited I am to be editor-in-chief of this year’s Mush Magazine without sounding exceedingly peppy and insincere. I have a lot of thoughts on how this magazine can be made to reach its full potential. In short, my main goal is to produce a great magazine that people will enjoy, and display the talent of UWMC and NTC students.

Heidi Lindsley, Editor-in-Chief

Looking forward to this year’s Mush magazine, I’m incredibly excited to help piece together and help voice the artistic thoughts of the many college students in the Wausau area.  If there was one word to describe how I feel about this year’s issue, it would be fresh: we at Mush are proud this year to bring fresh, vibrant and multifaceted work to our readers, and can’t wait to broadcast the voices of so many up-and-coming authors and artists.  Rest assured that this year’s amazing staff is dedicated to making the very best literary magazine UWMC and NTC students have to offer!

Jacob Joyce, Managing Editor

Marketing and Sales Editor—-Taylor Schlinkmann

I like to think that Mush magazine will be seen as something that pushes the limits or boundaries of typical literature common in a college setting. As sales and marketing editor for the magazine, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I want others to view our 2014 version of Mush. In past years it’s been something that students disregarded and was thrown in the trash. That will not happen this year and we, the editors, have made sure of that.

As a group, we have strategically chosen everything from our final pieces for the issue to our marketing tactics. All of these things have come together to embody a piece of literature that sparks creativity amongst writers, artists, and even those who may have believed they had no interest in such things.

I am a firm believer in the idea that marketing makes or breaks a product. Our latest marketing endeavor was to purchase 100 pens. Some of you are probably asking yourselves why we would choose pens to spend our already minimal funding on. We are a college run literary magazine. Who doesn’t use pens in college? We are planning on simply walking up to people in the halls, handing them a pen, maybe saying have a nice day, and then moving on. We don’t want to overwhelm anyone, but this tactic definitely will still do the job to advertise the magazine.

The Mush staff is continuously planning new marketing opportunities that everyone will be seeing around campus very soon.

Entry from Jazzmin MUSH Poetry Editor

We have finally hit the button to send in our draft with all the little issues fixed and ready for printing! Though it was simply just a click, it had the weight of our magazine behind it with the editors gleaming with pride. Personally, I wait eagerly to get the real copy back and be able to hold it in my hand for the first time knowing there are some fantastic writers in them eager to let others read their work. There is a different feel to reading something when it is ‘officially’ published rather than just on a document. Before it was more through the eyes of someone much more critical with the idea that we had nearly 200 submissions that needed to be narrowed down knowing our magazine could not hold them all. However, with the published copy on our way I can finally read these works for pleasure making it almost like a new experience.

Being that this is my last semester here at UWMC, I hope that our issue will be an inspiration to future students to see if they can top ours. Though each magazine we have published are equally just as well made, with writings anyone could enjoy, it is always interesting to see people pick things out from the magazine to see what they liked and did not like. From there they can try and model it into something they like and can feel pride for what they have created even if the next group may not like something. This just allows the MUSH magazine to evolve throughout the years – which is something interesting to watch.

Thanks for reading,
Jazzmin Nylund
Poetry Editor

Words from One of Our Prose Editor, Kelsey

Dear Readers

Hey, too all of you other literary enthusiasts out there. Let me start be saying I love to read and I have enjoyed reading all of the submissions we have received. I am one of the Prose editors this year for Mush. I am also one of the published authors from last year’s edition. I took a leap of courage, like all of the people who have submitted this and years past, and submitted a couple of pieces. After I submitted my pieces last year I waited those long weeks for an acceptance or rejection, hoping against hope that I would get an acceptance. I wondered what was in the minds of the editors as they read them. This was one of the reasons I decided to join the Mush staff. I wanted to see what was “behind the curtain.”

I have learned a lot so far in class. We received a record of submissions this year and were put to the daunting task of reading them all. Reading so many submissions at once, usually through the night, taught me that first impression of piece a matters. I could usual tell after the first reading if a liked something or not, however I did have to reread in order what they were truly trying to say. One of the things that has stuck with me about the prose submissions is their endings.

Many of the submissions had ending that seem rushed or were unsatisfactory. I think this is because the prose pieces have to be short. A writer gets to the end and just wraps it up cutting off his or her piece. My advice to growing writers out there, like myself, is to take more care with the ending. Perhaps start with it and work backwards. I encourage every one of you literary enthusiasts to submit next and the year after that. You never know what will catch the next set of editor’s eye.

The Process Is Almost Done

Dear Readers, Writers and those who sent submissions for the 2014 edition,

Thank you and congratulations! (For being any of the above and for finding or blog!)

Submissions are in for this year and I’m pleased to say we surpassed totals from last year, having over 180 submissions! The submissions range from authors as young as 16 and as wise as 72 years old! The variety was also fantastic. Poetry, prose, creative non-fiction, plays, digital photography, oil paintings, sculpture…. The quality of the magazine will be a direct reflection of the amount and variety of submissions we received.

We are still going through the process of reviewing all of the submissions and discussing (sometimes heatedly) which pieces will make it into the magazine and which, unfortunately cannot. As a fledgling author and a submitter to various literary magazines myself, I would just like to take a moment to consider those of you who put your creativity out to the world and do not get selected. I know it’s difficult but would encourage you not to view it as a rejection but a wonderful first step past insecurity or the scrutiny of others. That in itself takes courage and I thank each and every one of you.

From selections we will be moving into the layout and print aspects of the magazine. I encourage each of you to also visit our Facebook page, where we will be asking for feedback and discussion as to future aspects of the magazine. Toward the end of the semester there will be a release party held in the Union on campus and I encourage students, alumni and community members to attend, read aloud and enjoy some free food (well, not free, but already paid for!).

Sincerely,

Shawn Igers
Managing Editor
Mush Magazine 2014