• The Iris Review

Review of Foothills

Foothills is the undergraduate magazine for the University of Denver, in Denver, Colorado. The 2018 issue, the most recent issue, was published exclusively in digital form on the foothills website [http://foothillsmagazine2.weebly.com/].


It contains three subsections, which are labelled “Poetry,” “Prose,” and “Visual Art.” Perhaps because of its digital format, it does not have a table of contents, but there are few enough pieces to be easily navigated on the web-pages. A directory with hyperlinks

to each piece would improve the organization of the journal, and allow readers to more easily determine who has been included in the magazine. The “Visual Art” section needs the most improvements of the three, as it seems to just be five pictures on a web-page with no page setup or context aside from the brief credits beneath each photo. Also, the first photo pictured is just a poem printed on a sheet of some kind, and seems arbitrary; there’s nothing especially visual about the picture, and if the editors thought it should be included, it could be better included as just a poem entry. Overall, the organization works alright for the medium, but could still use improvements, especially with a table of contents or directory, and a few quality-of-life improvements to the “Visual Art” section.


Stylistically, the pieces have been arranged into square-ish pages and occasionally have designs or borders along the bottom of the page to fill white space. Some pieces also have the black and white on the page inverted, making the backdrop of the page dark with brighter text. Color is also occasionally used, and doesn’t seem to add to or detract from

the pieces too much. I like the designs used to fill the empty white space; they’re generally geometric and pleasing to the eye, and don’t distract me too much. The pieces I selected for analysis feature some of these geometric shapes along the bottom, as

well as the contrast between the black text on white page and white text on black page. Overall, the style is cohesive, and is visually appealing, while not being too distracting.


Lil 4 is a poem by Alex Brewer-Fong. It hints at the loss of the person the narrator is addressing through clues like the plaque in the garden and graduation photo. The poem is well written and delivers its message subtly, needing to be reread multiple times to draw meaning from it. The poem is fairly short, and because of this each line holds needs to

hold weight than perhaps a longer poem’s lines would. I especially enjoyed the way the first few lines are written; they really give the narrator some character and detail how this relationship with the lost friend felt. “Always a step ahead of me, / maybe it’s called irony / to find you were a poet / from the plaque / in your dad’s garden.” This piece portrays the feeling of losing a friend or loved one, and the gap that it can leave in one’s life very well, and was an excellent addition to Foothills as a whole.


Shade is a short story that depicts the loss of innocence of two kids from the introduction

of smoking into their lives by peer pressure. It opens with sensory, tactile descriptions, and stylized sentence fragments to give an immersive, reminiscent feeling. About halfway through the short story, it shifts from past tense to future tense, changing the feeling into a much less comfortable, almost intrusive narration style, which matches with the content being discussed masterfully. The two characters’ lives have been intruded upon by these older boys who make them smoke cigarettes, and the reader, even if inexperienced in peer pressure, can feel the shift in style of narration and empathize with the characters in that way. Overall, this piece is excellent, and was a great addition to the magazine.


-Ian Ilgner, editor

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