La Liberté et la Beauté: A Literary Magazine Full of Je Ne Sais Quoi
La Petit Zine promises its readers “writing that is neither internet trough slop nor dainty hand-stitched timid lamb,” with a sense of that indefinable je ne sais quoi that the French name would suggest. The framework of the first page for the most recent summer issue, Issue 27, is sparse and clear, with the design remaining silent behind the fragments of poetry beneath the title of each poem in the magazine. From its initial webpage, La Petit Zine is promising to be different, and promising a delicious experience—filled with luscious nature, fruit and greenery, and irreverent verses brimming with both modern and nostalgic surprises.
I don’t speak French, so I had to rely on Google Translate to understand that editors Melissa Border and D.W. Lichtenberg were enlightening me that, “freedom is not a goodbye,” as they signed off on their letter to the readers of this magazine. Freedom, fortunately, was exactly what this magazine managed, showcasing some of the most original, compelling, and approachable poetry I have seen in a recent literary magazine.
Many of the poems in this issue of La Petit Zine grabbed at me with urgent hands through the computer screen—there was Carol Muske-Dukes’s “Stand-Up Delusions,” a parade of images from history with an enviable confidence, Robin Art’s “That Year,” an exploration of the substance of absence teeming with aloof cohesion, and Cathy Linh Che’s “I Need a Change He Said,” a masterfully concise and perverse rendering of the intersection of health, life, and sexuality. Molly Brodak’s three opening poems also manage to usher the reader into La Petit Zine with a sense of flighty importance, an impressive foyer for a house of words.
There were many more poems that scintillated me, but I found the magazine’s brief foray into art to be just as compelling, with Lyall F. Harris’s “Revisitations” acting in stark contrast to the words of Montana Ray that follow the pictures. Montana Ray’s “(United States) (of Montana)” uses parentheses as visual literary art, bracketing and containing her words like the states full of trapped, pained and hungry men she describes. Lyall F. Harris creates the world in the small things. Images of houses, trees, and society, framed in graphs—relatable and expertly muted.
La Petit Zine did not disappoint me. Enter with an open mind, and enjoy exploring the many shades of literature and art that the small, yet powerful online magazine has to offer.