Cleaver’s All-Flash “.5” Preview Issue launched on February 1 with seventeen tiny pieces: a wintry mix of short-short fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plus our cover essay by photographer Blake Martin, highlighting his gorgeous, paradoxically profound series of Instagram self-portraits. The Preview Issue includes established writers, such as poet Frances Brent and flash fiction specialist Thaddeus Rutkkowski, and some new voices. This was a first publication for poets Anna Strong, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, and for concert violinist Samuel Thompson. For a detailed introduction to the Preview Issue, and to Cleaver, see Karen’s blog at RilesmithArts.com.
Issue No. 1 blows in on March 4th with six full-length stories, three essays, seven poems, a sprinkling of flash (ten, actually), and three art showcases: photography by the self-taught 16-year-old British prodigy Eleanor Leonne Bennett; a brief retrospective of works on paper by New York artist Ira Joel Haber; and our cover feature: a conversation with artist William Sulit about his foray into the curious realm of 3-D digital design, written by his wife, writer Beth Kephart, whose nonfiction flash piece “Scrabble” appeared in the Preview Issue.
Two fiction writers return from the Preview Issue with full-length stories: in Michelle E. Crouch’s “Free Coffee For Atheists“, a father desperately tries to reconnect with his teenage son. In Rebecca Entel’s “Perfect Companion“, a couple grapples with the aftermath of a traumatic physical injury. The fiction in this issue touches on recurring themes of family, the quest for connection, and powerful, sometimes violent young female protagonists. Our youngest writer in this issue is 20-year-old Darlene P. Campos, an undergraduate in the writing program at the University of Houston, whose contribution, “And We Slept in a Wigwam“, is a love story about a young Navajo couple struggling to survive in a harsh and meager environment.
One of the first pieces to come in as a submission when we launched our website in early January was Renée K. Nicholson‘s essay “Out of the Blue“. We instantly loved this lyrical articulation of a ballet dancer’s journey through a role and deep connection with her own body. Equally evocative of body and environment, from this issue’s poetry, are Marybeth Rua-Larsen’s “Heat” and John Timpane’s “In A Dry Month,” which each summon a sensory crush that will lift you out of this chilly March. Lawrence Eby’s excerpt from Flight in August, a longer series of work addressing natural disaster, offers stark and crackling images of destruction, while the language of Deborah Burnham’s “Albino” builds a lush, fantastical refuge for its titular character.
Cleaver would not be Cleaver without (thwack!) Flash, and we’re pleased to follow up our all-flash Preview Issue with a strong and varied collection of flash prose pieces. Part prose-poem, part story, these little bonbons squeeze tremendous energy into a tiny package. They’re like the sun-dried fruits of the literary world. Ann de Forest’s chilling “Closing the Curtains” will keep you up at night. Rachel R. Taube’s “Worm Dirt” echoes themes from the stories by Keith Rebec and Katherine Higgs-Coulthard with great compression. Jim Eigo, Charles Rafferty, and Kevin Tosca bring us three intense little tales of public transportation. We won’t pick favorites because they’re all wonderful. And short enough to devour in a single sitting, like a box of miniature chocolates.
What’s up next? Issue No. 2 (coming in June) will debut section of dramatic/spoken word writing. We’re in the process of gathering works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. Are you an artist/writer/dramatist? Why not submit to Cleaver?