By Marcia E. Gawecki
On Jan. 16, Parallax launched its online literary magazine and the Idyllwild Arts students had a big party to celebrate.
Parallax, which means, “a displacement in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight,” is often used by astronomers to measure distance. It’s also a cool name for a student literary magazine featuring multiple viewpoints.
Parallax has been published in a printed form since 1997, but just two years online. It showcases the writing of Idyllwild Arts students, mostly from the Creative Writing Department, but also from other majors, including Interdisciplinary Arts (IM), theatre, dance, music and moving pictures.
The students have expanded Parallax online to include submissions from other high school students worldwide.
Isaac, one of the editors, said the criteria for submissions was basic.
“We’re looking for good writing,” he said. “On our web site, you can expect high-quality literature.”
He went on to say that Parallax is not just a web site for writers.
“It’s an online literary journal,” Isaac. “It’s a collaboration.”
Well, you can see for yourself at www.parallax-online.com. It showcases the poetry, short stories, screen plays, theatre plays and essays. And some of the best visual images, photography and comics by visual artists at Idyllwild Arts. The combination is colorful, edgy, earthy and pretty terrific.
“Who says that high school students can’t write seriously, or that our voices can’t spark conversation within the literary community?” asked Whitney, the publication’s Editor-in-Chief.
“We think it’s possible. In fact, we know it’s possible. It’s what we’re doing. Parallax is a springboard into the writing world for serious young writers, and we want to hear from you.”
Some of the poems and story excerpts now featured online were recited on the night of the online launch. One by one, students came up to the “stage” before the fireplace, and recited their works. There was no microphone, and probably a predetermined time limit, but the works were high caliber and could match up to any Chicago “Poetry Slam.” The audience of 100, made up of students, faculty and staff, was enthusiastic and respectful.
It also helped that there was good hors d’oeuvres and raffle prizes.
“The next raffle prize is a bunch of Jesus post cards,” quipped Rebecca, as she called out the winning number amongst the holiday lights and decorations.
Some of the Creative Writers were theatrical in their recitals, like Isaac, who transferred from the Theatre Department last year.
“It’s easy for me to talk in front of others,” Isaac said. “But you don’t have to be a good speaker if it’s good writing.”
Isaac read a poem that he had written from a daydream. “Tearing open my abdomen like sand out of me/Doves of the dirt/It keeps coming/Mounds into mountains/Puckering the whites of my eyes.”
Branford, a tall, lanky guy who was dressed up in a suit for the occasion, was the most theatrical with his loud, deep voice as he read his excerpt from “Door 29.” It was a graphic journey about lab rats, and an audience favorite, including Tima’s 12-year-old son, who wants to be a writer.
“He was the best,” the boy said.
Branford’s “Door 29″ is a murder-mystery that occurs at a laboratory, with a bit of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” thrown in. Here is an excerpt:
“You want to go up to them and warn them. Tell them to run. Fear paralyzes you. You cannot move. Your tongue lies limp in your mouth. It reminds you of one of Doctor Octopus’s severed bionic arms. You wish you were a superhero in this moment. Wish you were more than a boy trapped inside a man’s body. You wish you could scream and tell them to run.”
Whitney recited “Cain’s Lament,” a modern poem about Cain and Abel, that was set to music by Arik, and sung by Samuel, fellow music students, at “Idyllwild Arts Day in LA” last year. (You can hear Arik and Samuel’s version sung before the printed piece at Parallax online).
“I just love this,” whispered Andrew Leeson, an instructor from the Creative Writing Department.
Here is an excerpt from Whitney’s “Cain’s Lament:”
Over dinner God told us he was an atheist. He spelled it out for us: A-T-H-E-I-S-T. Christ admitted to being agnostic. “What happens,” my brother asked, “when you don’t believe in yourself?” God put an arm around him, led him to the edge of the wine glass, directed his clean eyes upon the World.
“A child was murdered quietly in a market. A soldier shot civilians in the street as they pressed their heads against the barrel of his gun. A king ordered his subjects to hang each other and one by one they twitched and were still. A nuclear bomb obliterated one-third of the world’s population, but no one happened to be looking that way just then. God stepped away from the wine glass, brushing smears of human blood from his sleeve.
“Oh,” my brother said. “Oh.”
Becky, Scarlett, Ariel, Erin, Michelle, Freida, Dante, Callie, Ruth and Maria all read short stories, and poems, to end a remarkable evening, a literary celebration.
You can read them all online at www.parallax-online.com, or go to the Idyllwild Arts web site, www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on Creative Writing and Parallax.
In other news, three creative writers–Scarlett, Becky and Maria–left for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference & Bookfair in Chicago today. They will be reading and attending the 3-day event that starts on tomorrow, March 1, at the Palmer House Hilton.
“Margaret Atwood is going to be there!” Becky exclaimed of the Canadian poet/essayist/environmental activist. “We won’t get to meet her or anything, but she’ll be there presenting. Maybe I’ll just follow her to the bathroom and meet her then!”
Other AWP presenters include: Jimmy Santiago Baca, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jennifer Egan, Forrest Gander, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Philip Levine, Ed Robertson, and Jane Smiley, among others. For more information, visit www.awpwriter.org.
Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me.