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Review: The Reprint


by Iris Moulton

The online literary magazine The Reprint, from Zine-Scene, offers for May 2011 “The Stolen Issue.” The premise of this issue involves a piece that was originally published elsewhere now “remixed” by another writer, with results ranging from slightly altered to completely overhauled. Some lines are kept, others discarded, and original moods or methods are abandoned or reinforced. A reader may be unsure if these are meant as tributes, improvements, neither, or both, and the title of the issue suggests an awareness on the part of the editors—they aren’t afraid to regard it as a kind of hijacking, but imply it will be something thrilling, of value.

Kevin Wilson’s remix of Adam Peterson’s piece involves a shift in perspective from child to parent. The delight of this piece is like that of an Easter egg hunt—a reader will scan for the bright bumps in the prose, familiar interruptions such as the street performers, the score of 28-10, a mention of Liberty Island. Perhaps as a result there is an absence of necessary tonal shift: the original bored teenage vampire describes a brief stint with science as “We did science all day long,” but would the parents in the other version of the piece describe their daughter’s phase in the same youthful language, by saying: “For weeks, Hope did science all day long”? What made the original piece shine was its juvenile focus and vernacular. The new version is playful, joyous, but a reader may find that it has some dependence on the piece beside it for at least part of its magic.  Perhaps this is where the project of this issue means the most, to feel so collaborative, partnered: the suggestion that perhaps everything we read and write is part of a long, interconnected series.

The Brian Oliu remix of an Aubrey Hirsch piece is almost unrecognizable against the original. They are completely different shapes—lay them side by side, squint, and they are barely cousins. It takes a careful reader to find how one spawns the other. Oliu successfully captures the essence embodied in the original, and, filtered through him, it is reformed, remixed. Hirsch writes in the original:

“Antirrhinum Majus: Snapdragon: These sound mystical and, at fourteen, I am enamored with all things Tolkien. I hear they clamp down if you put your finger inside.”

Oliu responds:

“A snapdragon, a nod to where we are going: at some point, there is a dragon, no? … At some point, we put their hands in the dragon’s mouth to demonstrate their lack of fear, their knowledge of certainty—that its jaws would never snap closed just like when we are close to home there is nothing here that can hurt us: we know where the water runs, we know where the wasps’ nest hides.”

Oliu doesn’t strive to match object or mood, to coordinate language with language; instead, he operates with twin urgency, but honors the piece by making his response completely his own.

In both Andrea Kneeland’s piece and its remix by Lauren Becker, one gets the sense that the characters of each have been in these lines for years, and we are just glancing in. They seem to operate independently of each other, though perhaps they run parallel—one universe is crowded with color, so much that every object must hold many, while in the other we see mostly red. They may begin with a woman, a table, but to say how each unfurls from there would be to ruin both.

I almost wrote: Translating poetry into fiction demands a loss of the original scarcity. But does it? In the Brendan Todt poem, the dog and her keeper are shaped, outlined, by the filling in of a world around them; in the prose remix by BJ Hollars, the space is filled in with desire, intent, apology, negotiation.

From Todt:

You are a smart girl

who waits

for the rustling bags,

the black gloves,

and the key

hanging from my mouth

as I lock you into

the long elastic leash.

Hollars gives us:

“You are a smart girl observing your master’s great fumblings—hands, gloves, keys and plastic bags. I will not confuse your panting for laughter, nor should you confuse me for anything but your alpha. Our roles have been clearly established, so why won’t you sit still long enough for me to lock you into this leash?”

There is a break in unity in the remix: instead of “I fear/there’d be no/stopping us,” Hollars closes with “There’d be no stopping you.” This was one of the most thrilling departures made by the piece, perhaps one of the most drastic of the issue.

A photo by Andrea Mabry appears at the end of issue, reading: “The passion of destruction is a creative joy!” This is a fitting visual signal to a reader, who may by now be considering the overarching implications of this issue as a whole—what does it mean to read a rewritten work, to write one, to inspire one?  To that end, perhaps unexpectedly, one of the most poignant features of this issue, the small part that perhaps justifies—or even completes?—the whole, that presses a sense of timeliness, occurs in the author bio of Jessica Richardson, which references the recent Tuscaloosa tornadoes and the force at which things were “remixed”:

A semi can mix with a dumpster apparently. Legos can mix with bed springs, shingles, earth, medical records, tree limbs, and photographs of kids winning prizes all wound with fiberglass.

Iris Ann Moulton was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she studied English Literature and Anthropology at the University. She now lives in Lawrence, Kansas, where she is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and works as the Assistant Poetry Editor for Beecher’s. She can be found online at http://www.irismoulton.com/.

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