ellipsis (Westminster College)

Reviewed by Renata Erickson

IMG_3974.jpg“Our mission is to publish the best of what we receive. We try to pay attention to the formal qualities of the work and the content at the same time,” says ellipsis… advisor Natasha Sajé, professor of English at Westminster College.

ellipsis… is a nationally and internationally recognized journal published by the students of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. The magazine has been published on and off starting in 1965 and became an annual publication in 1999. One of the first advisors was Scott Cairns, followed by Katherine Coles, and now Natasha Sajé since 1999. Each year, students sift through the approximately 2000 to 3000 submissions, a mixture of prose, poetry, and art.

In addition to work from beyond campus, each issue features works by Westminster students and guest contributors such as Karen an-Hwei Lee, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Monica Berlin, Nickole Brown, BJ Buckley, Lisa Fishman, Karen Garthe, Matthew Gavin Frank, Elton Glazer, William Greenway, Andrea Hollander, Elizabeth Murawski, Bianca Stone, and Elaine Terranova.

While the function of an ellipsis is to exclude speech not needed to deliver the message in a sentence, omitting words that can be filled in by context, the journal ellipsis… brings to light the words hidden beneath the three dots that bespoke holes in humanity. Bookending Volume 53, “We” by Rachel Watts and “Eric” by James K. Zimmerman do just this.

“We” is a narrative illuminating how a person begins to fade upon becoming homeless. No matter the time or place, waking up to chocolate for breakfast in Paris or French toast in 1930’s Chicago, the situation is still present. The narrator is a twin, a “we,” and their mother slowly forgets she has another daughter. Mental illness isn’t a choice and the mother doesn’t choose to forget one of her daughters, but she does. Soon the narrator is homeless, but still a “we.” Just as an ellipsis makes a word invisible, so does the narrative (and our primary character) feel unseen.

We, the other invisible and I, lived in the open air. We curled up in doorways, bedded down in parks. At first, we imagined people looked for us. But gradually we realized we had been written out of existence.

The issue of ignoring the homeless is pervasive and just as systemic (and certainly related) to how police forces in the United States have increasingly become disconnected from the communities they serve.

Eric Garner died July 17, 2014 in police custody on Staten Island, NY . . . compression of the neck / said the coroner and you / said no we were playing / it was just a little game / and the grand jury looked / at him and looked at you / and said yes we see / and yes no problem

So begins and ends the poem “Eric.” James K. Zimmerman’s piece exudes the problematic disposition toward police violence by the use of the simple choice of a “yes” or “no,” to turn to humanity or place an ellipsis over the needed words.

ellipsis… publishes an issue each April and accepts submissions up until November 1. Visit the ellipsis… website here.