In 1964, Youngstown State University published the first edition of the Penguin Review to celebrate the creativity of students, especially in the language arts. This spring, the 50th edition of the Review has been published containing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, and visual art. Dr. Tiffany Anderson is the adviser.
This ''silver'' edition can be viewed in the traditional way by possessing a print version, but it can also be viewed electronically, by going to penguinreview.com and downloading the Adobe pdf version.
I recently spoke with one of the co-editors, Rebecca Brown, an energetic member of the YSU student body and a colleague of mine at the YSU Writing Center.
Rebecca assures me that a free print version is available, but there are mailing/shipping fees. So, those who feel the need to touch a book while reading can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a copy. Rebecca and the Review staff cater to an audience for whom ''liking us on Facebook, or following us on Twitter'' are options (though beyond the ken of most in the ''geezer'' generation, like me).
I have sampled several of the linguistic and visual offerings, and I am impressed by the authors and artists who have submitted work to the Review. The introductory remarks proclaim that the 2014 issue includes the written work of undergraduates only, for the first time since 2008. Co-editor Tom Pugh states, ''We have added artwork and screenplays to go with our fiction, nonfiction and poetry for an even more diverse issue. We believe in the importance of continuing Penguin Review as an outlet for undergraduates who are looking to be published.''
So far, I have been enriched by several of the entries. For example, Stephanie Woon's ''Divorce'' looks at the rupturing of a family through the eyes of a 5-year-old child. Honestly, I do not possess any credentials to be a literary critic (is ''post modern'' a new type of fence construction?); however, this memoir should be required reading for parents who are in the turbulence of a dysfunctional marriage.
It could heighten awareness of the effects their actions have on children.
Research informs us that Ohio's rate of divorce falls between 40 and 50 percent. Consequently, it remains both frustrating and intriguing to me that while ersatz politicians and the pseudo religious clamor about the genders involved in marriage, they are strangely silent about the lack of permanence in that sacred institution.
''Driver's Ed'' by Julia Illich is a poem that weaves a cautionary tale about the aftermath of a high-speed car crash. The voice in the verse uses ''they'' repeatedly as an indefinite pronoun underscoring what drivers fail to anticipate about the consequences of a collision.
In the short story ''Safe Hex'' (the irony of the title becomes increasingly apparent), author Brielle Pritchard spins a yarn which will be fascinating for readers of current fiction. The plot takes the standard ''boy meets girl'' motif in an amazing direction, including the use of very dark humor. One of the art entries of Vince Butka, ''Spiderman on the Page,'' is a rendering done in oil and ink. For me, it is a compelling drawing, strangely evocative of the famous ''Creation of man'' by Michelangelo.
Untitled photographs by Lauren Eckelberger and Dia Scruggs offer viewers two different perspectives of the landscape of the YSU campus. These pictures emphasize the artistic element in photography.
Without a doubt, much of the potential audience for this publication would identify themselves as ''blue-collar'' readers. Often, we might prematurely regard creative writing as the realm of the ''high brow'' only. This volume can be appreciated by a wide range of readers and might even elicit conversations among various classes of people, whatever color collar they wear, or if they do not wear any collar at all.
Isn't that a primary function of both literature and art?
Co-editors Brown and Pugh close their opening letter in the Review with the words ''we hope you enjoy it.'' Thank you, I am enjoying it more and more, page after page.
Williams is a Hubbard resident. Email him at email@example.com