Review: “Prole” by Various Authors

Prole

The new literary journal Prole (reviewed here in its third issue) is comprised of a variety of poems, fiction and reflective writing pieces each as deserving of their place in this subtly hard-hitting collection as the one before. The journal deals primarily with emotion, in its many and far-ranging forms–with disillusionment, grief, bitterness, love and nostalgia to name but a few. The prefix to Laura Milsom’s “Snapshot: Loving Son” is appropriate not only to this particular story’s window of insight into a young child’s short life, but indeed to most if not all of these pieces. Each could be described as a snapshot, merely a glimpse of the characters’ existence, and yet, however fleeting, a memorable one. From Mrs Montague’s reduced life in her familiar living-room chair (“Silent Triangle” by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey, p.56-61) to the depth of hurt inflicted by the decor of a bedroom alone (“Carly Doesn’t Size Up” by Julie Egdell, p.86) and the brief pictures painted of each in both “Allotment” and “Station” (by Idris Caffrey, p.92-93); these are momentary reflections of lives we as the reader know nothing about but for these few carefully chosen words which belie so much more than a face-value description.

There is much to be admired in the editorial of this collection: these pieces are woven together with an expert flair, contributing in a flowing momentum to the meaning of the collection as a whole; a remarkable feat in an anthology patch-worked together from so many varied voices. Many of these pieces are inherently dark–Stephen Ross’s “The Devil’s Piano Player” is engaging and intriguing but ultimately very bleak, while the haunting portrayal of “the loss of faith in God and family” and the injustice of 1920s America for a black family in Ernest K. Allaire’s “Everyday Seem Like Murder Here” (p.43-55) is a bitterly tragic story.

There is however a very skilful balance in the structure of Prole that allows a refreshing element of hope to break through into the collection as a whole. Gill McEvoy’s eloquent “Spartina Grass”, (“soon new encampments will appear, the fresh blades bending in the wind” [p.91] ) brings to the book a glimmer of optimism, as does Judi Sutherland’s touchingly beautiful “Carol Singing For Pleasure And Profit” (p.83-84):

“scarved and duffle-coated, haloed in a foggy orange glow, stamping feet and clapping…onto the glittering pavements, swaying and wassailing the way home…”

This collection as a whole–at times tragic, harrowing, moving and uplifting–holds within it many little treasures of new writing, and is combined with a care and sensitivity to make it an undoubtedly enthralling read.

This and past issues of Prole are available from www.prolebooks.co.uk.

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Laura McDonald lives and writes in Stirling, Scotland, and can be found at twitter.com/lauracmcdonald.