Upon looking at the title Spokenwar, one would think that this zine would be home of cutting-edge verse. This is not the case. The zine seems high-schoolish and largely unprofessional, with very little that’s worthwhile.
The review section began hopefully enough. Instead of the usual reviews, the editor had a special report on editor and poet etiquette, including example of editors being rude – a topic of great interest to anyone who has submitted poetry to any magazine, print or otherwise. However, the positive impression wavered when I viewed the title of one of these reports: “The Best Places to Be Rejected From”. What an awkward construction!
The poetry section was populated with many mediocre poems, some of them needlessly obtuse. I saw a lot of randomness in the line breaks and a gratuitous amount of rambling, unpunctuated and pedantic verse. I must admit, there are a few good poems here, but the poets do themselves no favors by placing their poetry with such shoddy company. To make matters worse, one poem alludes to the Titanic. The world has been saturated with enough that’s Titanic to last another ten lifetimes without another trite reference creeping in here.
To further lower my opinion, one poem’s title in the index contains a typo. It’s not unreasonable to find a typo in the body of a zine, but it’s really sloppy to have one in the index. Plus, for some mysterious reason, two poems are set in black type on a white background, while the rest of the magazine is white type on a black background. Please, someone wake up the editor.
Among all the bad things, I did find some promise: the vast audio section, full of poetry (not the same poems as included in the poetry section). Among the preening, there is some entertaining poetry, though much of it is hokum and pseudo-beatnik posing. Take for example, this line from “X” by Henry Alarmclock: “we, who were shoved into consciousness just in time for the end of the world.”
This zine was less than impressive. The only things that make it passably interesting are the audio and review sections. Perhaps they should nix print poetry altogether and focus on the audio. That way, the editor could focus on keeping typos out of the index.