Delivering ten issues a year, Ink in Thirds is a print and digital magazine founded by previous Three Line Thursday Editor Grace Black and is based out of Alabama. I am honored to have been asked to write an unbiased review of this fifth issue by Ms. Grace herself. While she is an editor, she is also a seasoned and widely published writer whose work I have had the fortune to read and review on previous occasions.
Ink In Thirds not only delivers to approximately fifteen hundred subscribers, it also delivers quality writing, photography, editing, formatting, and is truly an all-encompassing, solid read and visual delight.
Established as a magazine of “poised prose, precarious poetry, and photography to pilot our own realms again” this thirty-four-page gem definitely encourages you to do just that. Within moments of its arrival to my doorstop, I tweeted to all of my writing friends to check it out, read the guidelines and submit, submit, submit, stating “You’re going to want to get published in this one.”
Accepting the “weird” and “unique” is their specialty as long as the work makes the reader feel. They will consider all types of prose including flash fiction, drabbles, 3-word stories as well as poetry and photography. They read all year long, do not charge a reading fee and respond to submissions in a timely manner.
Visually, this literary magazine can be described using one word, luxurious. From cover to cover you will be rewarded with a smorgasbord of delights for the eye. Careful, precise placement of the contributing photographs are well-placed throughout, rhythmically moving you from page to page. The front cover is a photograph by the talented poet and photographer Matt Adamik whose work I am familiar with. In both of his submitted photos (the cover and page 14) he uses the technique of bokeh (intentional blurring) to heighten the intensity of the subject matter. A brilliant choice to highlight his work on the cover as it sets the tone for the entire magazine as a whole to be one of reflective pieces’ juxtapositioned with bold and intense photography and color that leave the reader anxious to see what they will find when they turn the page.
Ink In Thirds opens up with a clean Contents Page followed by a letter from the editor whose opening line, “The supple succor of silence in each drop of rain as it falls helps create a backdrop for this issue,” is as beautifully written as any poem on the pages that trail it, validating her passion for creating something distinct. One only need to turn the page to reveal that she succeeds.
As much as I would love to comment on each submission, neither time or space allows. A quick read through the Contributors Notes confirmed my suspicion that the majority, actually all but one, of the submissions come from seasoned writers with extensive publishing credits, nominations, awards and/or varied educational backgrounds which is slightly disheartening. As a writer of poetry myself, I strive to comment on new writers specifically within a review in order to encourage them to continue to submit.
As a huge William Carlos Williams fan I fell in love with Ray Busler’s piece entitled, “The Orange” as it reminded me so much of Mr. Williams’ work with its simple subject matter turned into a thoughtful retrospective. The accompanying photograph, courtesy of John Wilson, makes this gray print on black glossy page a true stand-out alongside Mr. Wilson’s subtle photo of oranges, where I believe he uses the exposure technique of ‘dodging and burning’ (in digital processing it’s known as tone mapping) to make the oranges appear to linger in the shadows of the written words beside it which just so happens to be a poem about oranges. Outstanding layout concept that impacts the reader’s senses.
The adjacent page finds the print choice in opposition with black print on a gray page (so clever) to showcase journalism Professor Howie Good’s piece “Sorry, Something Went Wrong.” Good’s contribution is three short, oddly connected works of prose which, upon careful examination, are actually revealing observations that are not only entertaining but well-crafted in their verse. Take for example this line:
“If you’re going to choose a place to die, then Mars is probably not a bad choice. But don’t expect to look much like Matt Damon.” I literally laughed out loud.
Unafraid of color and standing behind their desire to encourage “poised prose” and “precarious poetry”, Ink In Thirds rewards the reader with a splash of unexpected turquoise on pages 17 & 18 accompanied by two standout pieces. Writer Sara Codair’s prose entitled “Anxiety Meets the Data Maze” is a relatable tale written with powerful words that bring to life familiar imagery. Using Anxiety as a representative of life’s protagonist is creative with lines like, “Anxiety is detaining me” and “I rule, not Anxiety. I banish Her with a wondrous work of wizardry.”
Also highlighted in the sea of turquoise is a reflective poem by seasoned writer Changming Yuan called “Loose Thought” in which she uses the vivid images of tiny tropical fish swimming carefree in a pond as a metaphor for our ever changing thought patterns as we move through our lives.
Like a tiny tropical fish
Swimming along a summer streamlet
To the nimblest human hand
Even after rushing into the pond or lake
It can never be caught
Within the largest net
Additional works worth mentioning are “How to Speak” by Felino A. Soriano, an entwined re-wording of how each aspect of our upbringing lends itself to how we are perceived, and CR Smith’s three-line, untitled poem on page one. Ms. Smith uses five carefully chosen words that relay the message that reflection upon one’s past is an often distorted view of reality as each of us tend to “distill” our memories if only for self-preservation.
Ohio native Carl Boon, who currently resides in Turkey, contributes “Love in Three Parts” to September’s issue with a hauntingly sad, yet beautifully written triad of ways human beings bleed; by accident, by choice and too often, by fear. This piece squeezes the heart.
Ink In Thirds September Issue No. 5 has earned the distinction of five stars. This issue has it all. Strong, well-crafted work that leaves an imprint, and calculated and careful placement of both written content and photography. The magazine itself is printed on high quality, glossy paper and attention to every detail is evident. The work as a whole is balanced, including choice of varied contributors from all over the globe, although I would have enjoyed seeing a few new or first time published writers between the pages.
Grace Black’s promise to distribute “poised prose, precarious poetry, and photography” was a well-received delivery of a remarkable literary magazine.