Our newest issue of the magazine introduced a new Arts & Literature department, inspired (in part) by our excitement that Gonzaga’s own Tod Marshall was recently named the Poet Laureate of Washington State. As your visual storyteller and creative writing editor in the magazine, I will be reviewing and editing poetry, contemporary literature and visual art. If you have any ideas, send them along to me at email@example.com.
RIDING THE RAILTOWN ALMANAC
by Rajah Bose
With events like Gonzaga’s Visiting Writers Series and a consistent flow of Master of Fine Arts candidates flowing from Eastern Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers, the writing community is thriving in Spokane. Gonzaga Magazine is happy to represent this with a look at a recent compilation.
An almanac can help you understand a place. It’s a throwback to a former time – a compendium of cultural knickknacks, tidbits of information about the coming year to help you decide whether to plant a certain variety of rhubarb or when to look for a new moon.
Railtown Almanac is Spokane’s such collection, and it reads like a love letter to the city by writers who know that loving a place is like loving someone. You’ve got to be all in; to walk in the unlit streets tucked under the railroad overpass, to find the charms that are difficult to explain to friends who live in cities that no longer need defending.
The collection was edited by English Lecturer Jeff Dodd, director of the Center for Teaching & Advising, and Kate Reed, formerly a Gonzaga English lecturer. Together they raked through fiction and nonfiction prose, arriving at 38 stories representing undergraduates and former students (from surrounding universities) and published novelists. Reed was enthralled by the pieces she edited and the young talent’s ability to see the beauty in the area. “I think it requires resilience to live anywhere or be in any community that is small enough to know each other’s secrets.”
A few stories not to be missed are Liz Rognes’ tale of a mother-to-be’s struggle with an addiction to cocaine, Sharma Shields’ playfully serious story of Identity Theft, and a double dose of the ever endearing novelist, Nance Van Winckel. Gonzaga leadership studies professor and graduate of the EWU writing program, Shann Ferch (Shann Ray), finds himself nestled among students from both schools with his short but brooding Landfill.
Flip to the final pages and you’ll find the contributing writers section which reads like a list of personal ads to that city they love. The collection of people is the culmination of a writing community that is thriving and creating a new place – one which we are still coming to know better with every story.
REFLECTIONS ON POETRY BY TOD MARSHALL
Washington State Poet Laureate and Gonzaga Professor of English
During my term as Washington State Poet Laureate, the editors of Gonzaga Magazine suggested that I occasionally share poems with readers, and I thought that it might be fun to begin with a Zag who has received high acclaim for her poetry. I’ve read Claire McQuerry’s writing for more than a decade now and, as her former professor, it’s been a great joy watching her transition from student-writer to writer from whom I find myself learning new things. Now, Claire is an assistant professor at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
INEXHAUSTIBLE, THE 24-HOUR GROCERY
BY CLAIRE MCQUERRY (’05)
The doors sigh open in their tracks (so glad
you’ve come) because you are a body
moving forward. You’re wanted. You’re in.
The deli smells love you, the waxed floor
loves you, the shelter of strawberries loves
you and offers you cream. Card swiper, cart
pusher; choose, please choose from our plenty.
You’re sufficient. Take your pick because you can.
Canned chilies, canned olive halves, cans of oil-packed
salmon, jack mackerel. Loaves, cheeses. My aisles
are open, my baskets light. Luminous
fluorescence—oh, windowless walls, clockless
as a casino. Special on grapefruit, cake
mix, mixers, cigarette special, you’re special.