REV IEW Crimson Umbrella
Contents “Dictations from My Son” Short fiction by Julian Wildhack-Poyser “Future Generations” Bronze sculpture by Soledad Decca “Low Crawl” Poetry by Krista Dora “Plug” Photo manipulation by Cassandra Harner “Tzigane” Photograph by Cassandra Harner “Dominique” Poetry by Cassandra Harner “Blue Rosebuds” and “Triptych” Digital Collages by “Skinnydoggyz” “Broken Things and Breathing” Short fiction by Stephanie Miller “Does Technology Triumph” Ceramic sculpture by Soledad Decca “The Conditioned Stimulus” and “Primus” Digital Collages by “Skinnydoggyz”
“Together Golden” Ceramic sculpture by Soledad Decca “The Silhouette” Poetry by Danny Cove “Pretending” Painting by Tom Colchord Contributor’s Biographies Masthead Colophon
Dictations from My Son by Julian Wildhack-Poyser
I am at creative odds with my son. A little over three months ago my son came to me with the prospect of becoming a writer. In my naive joy that my son wished to follow in my footsteps, I forgot that he was only nine years old. At such an age, career paths change with the weather. I began to explain to him the intrinsic failure and rejection that goes along with my profession, while still kindling his creative flame. When asked in which form he wished to express himself, he exclaimed, “Movies!” Oh, how disappointing. He had chosen the toughest genre in the writing profession. I myself had been dabbling in screenplays lately. I had recently written one entitled Aboriginal Sorrow. It surrounded the emotional struggle of a young aboriginal boy dealing with the influx of the modern world. I had received no reply. I explained to my son how difficult it is to sell a screenplay in today’s market. “All they want is sex and violence,” I said. This did not turn out to be a problem. We sat down at my Macintosh computer and pulled up Word. I was sitting in the old, beat-up swivel chair I had stolen from my old old job at Kinkos, my son sitting on the desk top next to me, poised to dictate.
“You have to think of a good title,” I said. “When the Gun Robs the Cradle,” he said without hesitation. Good, I thought, a little juvenile but he is only nine. “Fade up on Jon Anderson doing cocaine,” he said. While I had schooled him on literary film terms, I had not expected this to tumble from his innocent lips. I have never been one to stunt my child’s creative impulse or expression so I began typing. My son had always been interested in shock-value so it wasn’t all that surprising. “Jon: (as his nose starts to bleed) Rusty pipes,” my son dictated. What came next was a ream of drug and sex references. A story of a miniature mafia unfolded. My wife had told me not to let our son see Goodfellas. Not wanting to discourage him I kept typing. JACK Do you take LSD? JON No, I’d never take anything as filthy. My teeth are numb, though. I’ve got to cut down on the ‘powdered sugar.’ TRAVIS You are a snorting pig! FRANKIE At least I’m not anorexic. UNKNOWN My sister was anorexic and boy was she lucky. She didn’t need any highlights. -5-
JACK Let’s get this casino on a roll and let’s name it the Kid Mafia. Needless to say I was concerned. I mean, if it had been a meaningful story consisting of character arcs and a developed plot, it might have been different. Clearly I had completely misjudged my son’s intelligence. Then he crossed the line. “Jack: Fuck you, you fucking cunt!” he screamed with the intensity meant for the character. “I’m not typing that,” I said. “Your mother might kill me.” My wife and I had never been strict about language. We had always chosen to teach when—not what—to say. We always felt that it gave our children a much-needed sense of self. But it was quite different to aid my son’s demented imagination by putting it in print. I began to regret every R rated film I had set in front of my child. From the age of seven, harmless yet risqué films such as A Fish Called Wanda, The Full Monty, and Trainspotting had headed up his very extensive film collection. We allowed him to see films like this because we believed he had the maturity and intellect to deal with such topics as heroin addiction and custody battles. Obviously, we were wrong. These images of guns and drugs had festered in his mind, turning him into a young Oscar Wilde or Quentin Tarantino. “It’s my vision, Dad!” he said. He knew just how to get me. “Okay, we’ll compromise,” I suggested. “How about instead of ‘fuck you, you fucking cunt’ we say, ‘forget you, you uninviting vagina’?”
It was futile. He was just like his father—unwavering and unwilling to censor his work. It was my admiration for this standpoint that allowed me to offer this next compromise. “What if you type in the cuss words yourself?” I chose this because while I was sure his spelling vocabulary included “fuck,” I hoped it did not include such reprehensible words as “faggot.” He agreed to my terms and we kept writing together. I was traveling down a road littered with slapstick violence and narcotics, pausing occasionally to lift my arms and allow my son to curse with fervor at an old lady who had gypped the Kid Mafia out of their “crystalline methadone.” As the story progressed, it became clear my son had some serious issues. Without knowing the political weight of his words, my son began depicting a scene involving members of the mafia, a young girl and a sock puppet. I somehow convinced him to delete this scene from the script for plot reasons. Thank God! My son, while disturbed, came up with a few extremely interesting literary techniques. In order to “establish mystery” he introduced a character without a name. UNKNOWN Tina, you’re nice. I like you. Be careful. Don’t dance near walls or poles. TINA Why? UNKNOWN The kid that is assigned to blackjack likes to kill on poles. TINA -7-
A ten-year-old kid likes to kill with poles? UNKNOWN He’s seven. And he likes to kill ON poles. TINA He must be very acrobatic! While it didn’t always make sense, it was original. He had become a dictating machine. He was far more prolific than I had ever been. Within two weeks, we had a finished manuscript complete with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, not to mention the torturing of a priest. If nothing else, I certainly had the edgiest kid on the block. While other kids watched Power Rangers and Pokémon, my son pondered the amount of cocaine it would take to, literally, kill a horse. “Can I send it in to one of your friends, Dad?” The “friends” he was referring to were my acquaintances in the film industry. I had met most of them in college and they had seemingly forgotten the cheap and potent marijuana I had basically given to them. In return for my generosity, they had given me unreturned phone calls and rejection. “I don’t know if they would take a child seriously,” I said. My son hated to be reminded of his age in any manner. Once at a restaurant when the waiter offered my son some crayons and a pad he told her “Stop condescending me!” “Well, could we put your name on it?” he asked, eyes welling up. “No, that’s illegal,” I said. The truth is, I didn’t give a damn about legality. I just couldn’t afford to have my name tarnished any further in the film industry.
Surprisingly, he seemed to drop the issue. I should have seen him eyeing my address book, but I was too flabbergasted that I had won the argument to pay attention to such a small detail. A few weeks later I got a call from my friend Tim in Hollywood. “I really loved your new script,” he said enthusiastically. “Aboriginal Sorrow? Really?” “No, When the Gun Robs the Cradle! It’s great, you’re finally writing quality stuff—no more pussy shit about emotional connections and red balloons! You’ve really evolved.” “You wish to buy When the Gun Robs the Cradle?” I asked in disbelief. “Yeah, it’s just what we’ve been looking for!” Needless to say, my son was overjoyed. Even though I was bitter, I took the offer. It’s a sad world indeed where quality writing like Aboriginal Sorrow takes a back seat to cheap sex and violence. Every time I use our new car or computer, I feel dirty—the computer especially. And lately, I have been using it quite frequently because my son and I have started a new screenplay. This one involves a vampire, motorcycle gang who periodically stop to kill prostitutes and do cocaine. I knew I shouldn’t have let him see Easy Rider or From Dusk ‘Til Dawn. My only hope is that after DreamWorks picks up this second screenplay, they’ll consider accepting my latest project. It’s entitled Moon Wonder and is about the heartbreaking, fantasy world of an autistic, six-year-old, illegal immigrant named Pepe. -9-
Future Generations by Soledad Decca
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Low Crawl by Grambi
Sergeant shouting: “Hurry up! Waitin’ on you!” All I’m thinking-one foot in front of the other and off the damn plane Troops on both sides of the gaggle fuck everyone’s trying to hold their own weight Two duffels, two weapons and a rucksack weighed me down Attempting to run from chocolate covered raisins in the sky Digging my face in the sand like a crab low crawling over hot rocks to a stretcher Right arm stretch, left leg kick left arm stretch, right leg kick
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Four battle buddies lifted my charcoaled body to an ambulance Bumpy ride of blasting rockets ignored excruciating pain in my chest bit like snakeâ€™s venom forcing me to collapse Woke a couple hours later in a hospital bed sipping purple Victory Punch from a peppermint straw admiring the cute Navy nurses
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by Cassandra Harner
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by Cassandra Harner
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by Cassandra Harner All run naked to the lean-to leaning against the fence the only defense against the weather, sticking together, the one that’s thinner is always the winner. It’s like they’re all— Sheep sheared every year Like the beard of a salary man Sheep sheared every year Like the beard of an entrepreneur Sheep sheared every year Like the beard of a homeless man Sheep sheared every year By the same hand that scoops the manure Sheep sheared every week Like the beard of an architect The blade you wield, Oh Dominique Destroys all you can’t protect You make it all happen from behind the glass You laugh and cry, you cry and laugh When you don’t understand why They all can’t just be like you All you know is you’re unique Run, woman, run Escape before they eat you, defeat you Dominique
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But, like— Roadkill decomposing But always composed Pulling a ripcord But never tripping A nuclear bomb As you always supposed All according to plan Enemies closer, inverted fallacy A plastic nose held like a scepter With eyes shining with malice, she Would die before anyone accepts her Run, woman, open your mouth And draw your sword at the things you love The only way you know how to protect them You wrecked them Those terrifying things that will destroy you And eat you, abuse you, and defeat you, make you weak Run, woman, run and cut them down Dominique You make it all happen From behind the glass You laugh and cry, you cry and laugh Because you don’t understand why They can’t all just be like you Superior, untouchable, a fortress, unique Severe, scalding, merciless queen
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Dominique, impenetrable Dominique unconquerable Dominique untamable Dominique unfathomable Dominique unlovable Dominique
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Blue Rose Buds by Skinnydoggyz
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Broken Things and Breathing by Stephanie Miller
Chicken Ricky awoke smiling. He never remembered having dreams. Reaching to his right, he seized the pillow, awakening Miles Davis. Miles awoke frowning, as most cats do. They crawled from the mattress and wandered to the kitchen. Breakfast, as always, would be milk and cookies. Ricky carried their breakfast to the front porch, where the two slumped into a swing. “It’s my birthday, Miles Davis,” said Ricky, the declaration nearly wilting before it had sprouted. Miles hacked in boisterous approval. Ricky was 47. Right on schedule, the kids arrived, five boys and a girl, almost teenagers. They rode by on their dingy BMX bikes. “Hey, Chicken!” they yelled, doing little burnouts in the gravel on the roadside. “Where are the chickens?” “What’s wrong? Did your girlfriend eat ‘em?” screamed the little girl with adolescent venom. They sped off in a cloud of hysteria and dust. Ricky watched them go, petting Miles Davis, acknowledged the ochre dust dancing in the empty street, then grumbled to the back yard. Small towns don’t like small, unimportant people. Towns are great brains, lacking everything that matters, filled with names and judgements. As a chicken farmer, Ricky had always known and managed this. He raised chickens, and he never thought about trying to do anything else. He came from a family of chicken farmers, in fact, and his father had inherited the farm. They kept
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seventy hens and five roosters. It was barely a living, but they lived. New chicks pecked at the feed that morning. Birthday chicks, Ricky thought. “Way to go, Schmutz,” he said to Schmutz the rooster. “Honey Bear!” The voice had come from inside. Miles sprinted away to the feed shed. A very round woman pushed through the back door without using her arms, and she strutted to Ricky, her generous hips bouncing. Her equally plump dog squeezed through the doorway after her, yapping once with effort. “Hi, Darlene,” Ricky said as she smashed against him. They’d been dating for three years, since Darlene had moved from the next county over. Now, she lived more at the farm than she did at her own house, which was across the street. “Oh, Snoogie Blossom, happy birthday!” Darlene crooned. Ricky mumbled something from the depths of her cleavage. She was a tall woman. He could smell her usual scent of sweat and cheap fruity perfume. He hated that smell, but he liked that she was a woman. Ricky knew that his sister Sammy would be waking soon and would be outside at any moment, full of new belligerence after twelve hours of sleep. Ricky’s eyes were riveted to the back door as Darlene fondled and fussed. The door was missing a piece on the side that nobody would ever fix. Little things like that are hard on chicken farms. His father hadn’t been able to handle the chicken business. He hadn’t been able to handle much of anything, but the main thing was the chicken business and everything that went with it. Ricky had done most of the farm work - 21 -
since grade school. Sammy was too young to help then, and she somehow remained that way. When he was in eighth grade, he began to do all of the farm work. “Ricky,” his father had said, “you ain’t going to school tomorrow.” Ricky watched his father chew a piece of grass, waiting for more. “You ain’t going to school for a while.” Still, Ricky waited and watched that piece of grass, moving around in a slow circle like cud in a cow’s teeth. But his father never said anything else about school. He stayed in the house, chewing on other things besides grass, chewing on chew and pieces of the unraveling couch, giving orders with his eyes on the TV. Ricky stayed home. He enjoyed it at first, not going to school, being outside, being almost like an adult. He enjoyed it for a few years, maybe. From beneath the greasy sheath of Darlene’s hair, Ricky saw the broken door swing open, and he removed himself from his girlfriend’s embrace. It was Sammy, in summer pajamas, with Darlene’s dog attached to her ankle. “Hi, Darlene,” she spat. Darlene shrank away, closer to Ricky. Sammy was skilled in degrading the woman who had claimed Ricky as her Snoogie Blossom. She glared at Darlene once more before grinning around her at Ricky. It was a smile that Ricky recognized, the sweetest of Sammy’s smiles. He knew what she would ask, once she got around to it. He averted his eyes, watching his birthday chicks fluff around the grass in loving amusement. By the time Ricky had fried the eggs and made the toast, Darlene had already locked herself in the bathroom. Sammy perched on the kitchen counter, satisfied with her work. “I
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don’t know why you’re with her,” she said, “She’s rude. All she does is make you buy things for her, or her stupid dog.” “She loves me,” Ricky offered. He said it more to himself. Sammy squinted, opened her mouth, then closed it. “Good then,” she said, “So how’s your birthday?” “Good.” A shrug. She watched as Ricky slid two eggs onto a plate with toast before she spoke again, more softly. “I need some money.” He had known she would say that. “Um, I’ll be right back. I’m bringing these to Dad,” Ricky said, his lips pulling up vaguely at the corners. Their father had been living in the old house since he was a kid. He was still there, but he stayed in one room now. When Ricky walked in, his father rolled over in his bed. It was a tall four-poster bed, the only bed left in the house that wasn’t a mattress on the floor. They’d had a lot of yard sales. “I brought you some eggs,” Ricky said, more quietly than he’d meant to. The old man stared at him for a long moment, measuring something, or remembering something, and he rubbed his eyes with hands that were smooth and white, like a child’s. Ricky knew he’d failed his father again. “I don’t want your goddamn eggs,” the old man said. “I want a chicken leg. I thought you were cleaning another chicken this morning.” When Ricky was seven, his mother left. Sammy was one and just walking, and his father was still working on the farm. That day Ricky was standing in his bedroom doorway when his father yelled, “Trudy, you can’t leave. Why don’t you fix up some lunch and think about this? It’s a
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goddamn bad idea.” He was following her around as she put clothes and random items into a bag. She was panting, like her lungs weren’t big enough for her breath. Ricky watched his parents move like this until his father wrapped his wife in his arms. His father’s meaty arms crushed her up until all Ricky could see were her pale legs and her pale, tired face, and he saw that her mouth was shaped like a trembling circle, sucking in air that was too thick or too thin to breathe. He wanted to pry the arms away. Then that trembling circle let out a voice nobody had heard before, a crackling voice like a scream but quiet. “I can’t breathe,” she said. “I can’t breathe. Let go, Don.” He did. She picked up her bag, walked out, and was gone—her pale face, circle mouth, pale legs. Darlene had removed herself from the bathroom. She promptly enveloped Ricky in her bulk when he slouched into the living room, and her body pressed the plate of eggs against his favorite shirt. She pushed him into his bedroom and down onto his mattress. “Happy birthday,” she whispered. Straddling him, she smeared her hot tongue down his neck. Ricky shuddered as the spit cooled, and he wiped it away with the sheet. “I can’t right now,” he said. He was limp under Darlene’s splayed legs, but she’d unbuttoned his trousers anyway. Darlene pouted, swaying forward and back, grinding into Ricky’s denim lap. She leaned over him, and he watched sweat bead between her breasts. A drop fell onto the corner of his tightly closed mouth. The zipper on his pants caught on his hairs as she thrust forward one last time. She climbed - 24 -
off of him, her lips still scrunched toward her nose, and lumbered out the door. Ricky followed Darlene to where Sammy had set up lawn chairs in the back yard. He spotted Miles Davis slinking from the feed shed, avoiding Darlene and her dog, to the chair Ricky usually vacated. They sat and watched yellow chicks peck barren ground. Why were they pecking the ground, Ricky thought, if they weren’t finding anything anymore? He would feed them again later. Darlene and Sammy began to fight again, about dogs or cats or chickens or farms. Before they could start screaming, Darlene stomped over to sit down hard on Ricky’s lap. The air momentarily escaped his chest. Across the yard, Darlene’s dog picked up a yellow chick. “Mango!” Darlene shrieked. “Put him down!” “Shut up!” Sammy said. “He’s just playing.” This produced another bout of belligerent squabbling between the women. Ricky was a white statue in his chair. He stared at the yellow fluff between two rows of teeth, like sharp white fingers closing over a new egg. He had stopped breathing, couldn’t remember the last time he had breathed at all. He felt Darlene becoming heavier. The women were slinging profanities and spit, and he was being crushed. And his father didn’t want any goddamn eggs. He wanted everything but goddamn eggs. And Sammy wanted money, and Darlene wanted to crush him. They all wanted to crush him, Ricky thought, because all Ricky ever had were eggs. And it was working, he thought, because he was breaking, and he couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t do anything but stare at the beautiful yellow bit suffocating in a sharp white fist, its little - 25 -
orange beak open and trembling. Ricky stared and sweated, his whole body wet under Darleneâ€™s heat and weight. Finally, he found he could scream; at least he could scream. Ricky choked out a sharp, creaking scream, a discordance that pushed Darlene to the ground and Ricky into a run. All he wanted was to breathe. He lurched the twenty feet to the back corner of the porch like a blind man, to something dark leaning there. Then there were more screams, from the women, as he turned around. The dog turned toward the cries, took a step toward the house, faltered, and fell. Dead. Smoke still streamed from Rickyâ€™s gun. The chick lay on the ground, already gone.
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Does Technology Triumph by Soledad Decca
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The Conditioned Stimulus by Skinnydoggyz
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Together Golden by Soledad Decca
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The Sillhouette by Danny Cove
A boy said to his silhouette, “I am all alone.” To which the silhouette replied, “You are not alone.” Startled at the words removed from his lack of light The boy said to himself, “I must have gone insane.” To which his silhouette replied, “You are still as sane. I am as real as realness is, and mutter all the same, And soon you will know the reason why I came. I have seen a world of light, for in darkness I am gone. I have seen the greatest and the worst that one can see, Sailing ships and magic wands, foghorns in the day Waterfalls and lightning storms, Murders, rapes, and plagues. The world is bright throughout the day, but half of it is night, Where evil laughs and goodly men do mutter in their heart. So now I come right back to you, so I can intervene, and tell the world just what it is, where anger has its mean.” “How is this all possible?” so asked the little boy. “How is it you say these things, and plan the plans you’ve planned? For you can’t hope to change the world when you’re just lack of light.” “Ah, my boy, that’s where you’re verbal error lies. It makes you think what’s possible, that I am yours, all lies.
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And now Iâ€™ve come for what belongs to me. What, you ask, is this small thing? Your physicality.â€? To this the boy ran, fast as hail, into the open light. The shadow herein etched its form, a monstrous beast in plight. So thinking hard, an idea came. The boy took to an alley, Where darkness reigned and shadow lost its dark and daunting form. But, sadly other shadows, too, had thought as his had done. So not a scream was heard in that deserted back alley. The boy stepped out into the day, A purpose in his mind. His dark eyes lost all track of light, As shadows drifted through.
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Pretending by Tom Colchord
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Contributor’s Biographies Tom Colcord was born and raised in Indianapolis, where he first realized how good he was at daydreaming. After spending 18 years perfecting the art of daydreaming he was disappointed to find that no college offered a major in it, so instead he came to Indiana University and studied BFA Painting. It was the next best option. Danny Cove is currently completing his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Indiana University. Originally born in Angelarsk, a Russian city bordering the arctic coast, his family immigrated to the United States when he was four years old, settling in the enigmatic town of King’s End, Indiana. It was there that he discovered his love of writing, of weaving stories and tales from the fabric of his imagination for others to enjoy. Soledad Decca: “My mind was first opened to art during the four years at Fishers High School. With projects she created and advice she gave me, my teacher Jasmine Osborne, not only made me realize my talent for art, but also my passion. My artistic statements didn’t begin to show through my artwork until the end of my high school education. Although it is beginning to show more prominently through out my work now, I realize I still have a lot of room to learn. The majority of my artwork focuses on societal problems and issues I see within my surroundings. For example, my sophomore year at Indiana University I carved a foot out - 34 -
of clay and underneath the foot I carved a mess of what is suppose to represent technology. The main idea of this piece was to propose the following: There is this idea that the positives of technology out weigh the negatives. Nonetheless people don’t realize that in some aspects technology hinders our ability to expand our learning. There have been several other societal issues I have tackled however there have been some, like a bronze sculpture of a baby smoking a cigarette, that have definitely created more controversy than others. I most certainly am pleased when my pieces create discussion because to me that means I have hit a certain emotion in that person. It could be good or bad, but I still hit it.” Krista Dora is a senior at Indiana University. Her major is General Studies with concentrations in English and Psychology. This is her second year at IU. She turned 25 in late October this year. She served in the Active Duty Army for 4 years from June 2005 to June 2009. She has one younger sister that attends IU as a freshman this year. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, playing guitar, working out and traveling. Cassie Harner is a student at IU studying Fine Arts and EALC with a minor in Linguistics. Her hobbies include playing music, drawing, digital photography, and writing. She’s going abroad to Korea next semester, and planning on studying in Japan for the following semester. With the motto of “being pretty good at everything, but not really good at anything,” she strives to find something in her life that she does best; and finally she may be finding her focus in the arts. - 35 -
Stephanie Miller, 19, is a Sophomore at IU from Lagrange, Indiana. She’s majoring in English with a Creative Writing concentration, and she is minoring in German and Anthropology. She began writing poetry as a child before she got into fiction in middle school. Outside of writing, she enjoys playing music (piano/accordion/voice), mushroom hunting, and goats. “Skinnydoggyz” is from northern Indiana. He is 20 years old, studying as a sophomore at IUB. His four entries here were made with Adobe Fireworks using found pictures. His art is a self-perversion of ideas and feelings he has/receives from either images or sounds. Julian Wildhack-Poyser is a senior at Indiana University. He has an IMP in Sociology of Aesthetics as well as a minor in Art History. He has also studied at Charles University, Prague and the FAMU film institute. He has been published in Nuvo News Weekly and Etchings in Thought. Some awards he has received include The Bob Sparks Memorial Grant and The Etheridge Knight Young Poet Award.
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Masthead Editor-in-Chief Michelle Sybert Assistant Editor Hilary Burns Fiction Editor Emily Mulholland Poetry Editor Chelsea Freistoffer Managing Editor Nicole Silvernell Editors Aly Oâ€™Brien Jaclyn Kessler Kate Colvin Chief Designer Kristin Ousley Designers Justin Scholfield Hilary Givens Kirsten Brammer Marketing Director Ana-Christina Acosta Treasurer Blakely Meyer - 37 -
Colophon Crimson Umbrella Review : December 2011 The Crimson Umbrella Review is a self-run and self-directed online literary journal that is published monthly during the academic school year. The Crimson Umbrella Review uses the collective knowledge of its members to teach and learn all of the necessary skills to create and maintain this online literary arts magazine. In addition to learning the basic skills necessary to publish a journal, the Review experiments with the potential of an online literary publication to find new ways to appeal to a college student market. Our goal is to provide every writer or artist with an umbrella to protect and shelter them as they develop their work and writings skills. The Crimson Umbrella Review believes that each writer or artist should have a safe-haven that allows him or her to publish his or her works freely, in a supportive, stress-free zone. All work is copyrighted by the author or artist. Archived on March 7, 2012 Available as online PDF, eBook, and Issuu Check out the latest issue at crimsonumbrellareview.com, or submit your work to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Published on Dec 31, 2011
The December 2011 issue of the Crimson Umbrella Review features fiction, poetry, and art from Julian Wildhack-Poyser, Soledad Decca, Krista...