The Practical Critic: Glass Mountain Magazine, Spring 2013

Poe. That’s the first thing I thought when I saw the cover. With its black-red mass taking over blood-spotted white, it screamed tentative hope giving way to immense despair and darkness. Fun way to kick off a multi-faceted lit journal. Admittedly, I had not read enough college lit journals to place an indelible label on the pamphlet based on a first glance, so I naturally decided to give it a fair shake by getting my feet wet with the works inside.

Before I dive into my opinions on the publication first, a little history. First published in 2006, Glass Mountain is a biannually published literature magazine put together by University of Houston undergraduates, who obtain submissions from college students all over the country. The mag also sponsors the Boldface Writing Conference, a symposium for up-and-coming writers that includes talks and workshops in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. With such a huge pool of talent from which to pull exceptional content, my expectations were high as anything. And the magazine didn’t disappoint.

As far as literature was concerned, the magazine started out strong and kept it up to the end. Here’s a list of some favorites (in no particular order):

  1. The Fork by Darlene Campos: As one of my first official forays into queer fiction, the story covers the events surrounding the assault of a Native American gay man named John David on the rez (reservation) from the point of view of his best friend. Although very well-written, engaging, and human, the story might make you less inclined to use your kitchenware for a couple of days. The humor and emotional scenes in this work truly makes one connect on a personal level with the main character.
  2. Thrombosis! by Nick Chan: This poet definitely succeeded in capturing the lack of empathy in our society for those life-jarring events that keep us from participating in the rat race. Case in point: a highway is clogged by an accident, and people are upset they will be late to work.
  3. June 25, 2009 by Jennifer Overfield: One sentence displays the rage this poet feels toward Mother Nature’s coldness. The tone of it seemed distant and unfeeling, almost as if the poet chose to demonstrate how messed up it was for a force so ubiquitous to refuse acknowledgement of an event that created so much sadness. Many music lovers would feel her pain.

Obviously, the literature in this magazine was impressive. The art, however, could have been more varied with respect to the number of pieces and the number of artists. In the journal, the only artist featured was “Robot Ronnie.” Although he or she did seem to have attracted the eye of the journal editors with his/her abstract works and eye-catching modernist techniques, I personally did not enjoy as much as the literature simply because only one person offered their own artistic perspective. It would have been a much improved experience if the art in the journal were as varied and textured as the literary pieces.


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