Producing a literary journal is a task that requires not only great time and effort, but also a group of people dedicated to collaborating to create the best collection of poetry, prose, and other works possible. This idea of collaboration is one that the students in the Writing program at Goddard College latched onto to produce their first edition of the literary journal “Duende,” out last month, and the results are amazing.
Duende is a product of collaboration on a national level. Unlike most undergraduate literary journals, which are run by students from one campus, this journal’s staff are located all across the United States, from Oregon to Pennsylvania and everywhere in between. The staff only meets face to face once each semester; I can only imagine how tricky communicating about a complex piece of poetry is without that in-person dynamic!
A quote by Federico Garcia Lorca appears at the bottom of the artfully designed home page, explaining that duende “is a force…of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s of the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation”. This simple philosophy of collecting and sharing works of art teeming with raw soul and passion made me eager to explore their first issue to see exactly the kinds of works desired by Duende’s editors.
Within the visual art category, I was most enthralled by Deanna Lee’s collection of hand-drawn pieces rooted in the exploration of the line. Lee shows that groupings of abstract lines can both evoke contrasting characteristics (weightlessness vs. heaviness, for example) while all maintaining a sense of life and action. I love the sense of movement in Lee’s work, and every time I look back at these three drawings, I feel as if they’ve moved somehow, shifted as my perspective on them shifts.
Switching to the prose section of the journal, another interesting aspect of Duende’s collaborative spirit is unveiled. Categories like “prose poem” and “hybrid prose” are attached to these varying works. I love Duende’s philosophy that regardless of genre, good writing is good writing and needs to be shared. My favorite work in this prose section is Justin Torres’ flash-fiction piece. Beautiful diction juxtaposed against edgy, sometimes jolting scenes, Torres’ concise story needs to be read more than once in order to pick up on all the social and moral issues presented.
Duende tells that they are “especially interested in collaborations between two or more writers, or between writers and visual artists”, and my favorite piece in the poetry section involved both visual and written art. The prose-poem This is How We Dream and its accompanying artwork present an interesting pair of works to be compared and contrasted. Pairing pieces of art together is a tricky thing to do in order to emphasize the best parts of each work, but I find the contrasting colors of the visual art and the theme of dream versus reality in the poem to work incredibly well together.
Coming together for the sake of promoting written and visual art is the goal of most every literary journal produced by undergraduates, but Duende does it exceptionally well. Uniting students nationwide through Goddard College’s Writing program, combining genres of work to create bold new styles, and encouraging artists of various mediums to work together, Duende is a truly innovative journal that I cannot wait to hear more from.