The newest issue of “Catch” features, on the cover, a red, regal-looking couch, under a picture frame within which the literary magazine’s name sits. It is not often “Catch” is associated with something so formal as regality, but with all the changes to the magazine this year, it seems a fitting image.
The main change, and the one that is immediately apparent, is a revamped table of contents. In the past, it has been a straightforward, if somewhat confusing, in-order-of-page-number affair. Last spring, letter symbols were added to distinguish the works according to type (P for Poetry, F for Fiction, etc.), but the format remained mostly the same.
Now the table of contents is divided into sections based on art type. So, for example, all the drama pieces are listed together regardless of page number, the creative nonfiction pieces are placed in one group and so on. This is a huge improvement on previous issues, streamlining the magazine and allowing for immediate access to whichever art type you want. In the mood for poetry? They are all laid out on one page, in a single clump.
Even if you ignore the table of contents and read from start to finish, “Catch”’s layout is much cleaner and more organized than before. Longer selections of fiction, drama and nonfiction are spaced between with one-page poems and the visual art section is placed in the middle of the magazine. Formatting on certain submissions, particularly the scripts, has been vastly improved to allow for easier reading: compare sophomore Autumn McGarr’s screenplay “J.R.S” to her play in last spring’s “Catch,” “Leaks,” and notice how “J.R.S.” has been spaced out and distinguished with bold and italics. A lot of attention went to improving “Catch”’s format this year, and these efforts ultimately pay off.
“This is all well and good,” you might say, “but what about “Catch”’s bread-and-butter, its actual content?” It’s very good, I would answer. As is expected of “Catch,” the content displays a variety of talented students’ work from multiple media. This time around, though, creative prose, usually a staple of “Catch,” has been de-emphasized in favor of drama, poetry and essays. Last spring’s issue contained eleven pieces of fiction and creative nonfiction. The new issue contains only four.
This is not strictly a bad thing, of course. The stories included are consistently excellent, with highlights including the Faulkner-esque “Distant River” by junior David Brankin and junior Kate Barrett’s “On Not Turning Up to Be Best Man at the Wedding of One’s Best Friend,” a story that brims with as much character as its title. The room made available through the absence of more prose also created space for pieces typically not seen in “Catch,” like the two screenplays in the drama section, the aforementioned “J.R.S.” and excerpts from zom-com “Dean of the Dead,” by seniors Ernie LoBue and Tim Lovett. Screenplays are a type of writing rarely found in any literary magazine and to see them in “Catch” is a pleasant surprise. Both are well written, and I hope they inspire more people to submit similar writing in the future.
Other strong examples of content include senior Diana Razo’s study of the impact of Calypso music in Cahuitan culture and senior Pier Debes’ musical compositions based on the Greek tragedy “Eurydice,” available for listening online but provided in the issue as sheet music. Where the issue falls flat, however, is in its poetry selection, which is much more uniform in form and structure than previous issues. I wish I could see more works like Elizabeth Ketchum’s poem/micro-fiction fusion piece “John Wayne”, and the sparsely written poem-letters in post-baccalaureate Jeremy Doebert and junior Spencer Graham’s “Lonely Places,” instead of the two-to-three line stanzas that pepper most of the issue.
Still, the editors and contributors behind “Catch” have released a strong issue this term, and I hope the streamlined form and increased accessibility remain staples when the team reconvenes to make and release Vol. 43, No. 2.