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  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

The Spring 2016 issue of Mid-American Review from Bowling Green State University is a serious jackpot for readers. Not only does this issue include the regular quality content, but it also features a translation chapbook with poems from Slovenian poet Meta Kusar. And this issue includes the winners of the 2015-2016 James Wright Poetry and Sherwood Anderson Fiction Awards. Looking back through notes, I’m aware that the main phrase for such a collection is “and then . . .”

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  • Issue Number Volume 47 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2016
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

"autumn  / taking a dirt road  / to the end of it " —from A Dictionary of Haiku (1992), Jane Reichhold, 1937-2016. The fall issue of Modern Haiku contains a tribute in memory of Jane Reichhold, “a prolific author, editor, and translator” who made her mark as a writer and scholar of the haiku form.

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  • Issue Number Volume 55 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2016
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

No one who regularly reads university journals is going to be surprised that the Michigan Quarterly Review contains quality short work from some of the best authors. The Summer 2016, issue is certainly no disappointment. Twelve authors have provided us with the level of work we have come to expect and respect. It is always difficult to select one author’s work over another, especially in a respected collection, so your pardon if I don’t mention everyone.

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  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2016
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

Alfred Hitchcock once said: “No film is complete without a MacGuffin” because that’s what “ . . . everybody is after.” A MacGuffin, which is a literary device originating from Victorian England, is an object that moves the plot forward in a work of fiction. The MacGuffin, which is a literary magazine published out of Schoolcraft College in Michigan, is an impressive collection of poetry and fiction for your reading pleasure. The collected works of this issue explore a wide range of voices examining the human experience. Editor Steven Alfred Dolgin says: “I have long believed that there is a correspondence between our internal, subjective landscape and that of our external, objective landscape. The selections in this MacGuffin issue do nothing to deter from that perspective.” The landscape within this magazine is vast and exciting to explore.

  • Issue Number Issue 18
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Semiannual

“I want to tell you about the skunk cabbage” is the first line in “The Book of Spring,” a poem by Sam Taylor. If a writer can make me want to go out and embrace a skunk cabbage, I believe that’s some pretty good writing.

  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2004
Don’t let the title fool you—there’s nothing rag-like about this small, beautiful journal. Encompassing two short stories, an illustrated humor piece on a phallic mushroom species, an interview with poet Mark Morris, reviews and poetry, the latest volume of Main Street Rag is as elegant in presentation as it is edgy in content. Mike Watson’s cover art alone is worth the issue price. The two short fiction pieces by Nils Reid and Mary Ann Ruhl Thomas are in keeping with Main Street’s professed bias for grittier material, treating, respectively, a morally lapsed missionary and a girl contemplating killing her father. However, it is the poetry that dominates these pages, with some established voices alongside many newer ones. Aside from a couple of sonnets, the journal favors free verse in a range of styles, from Louis Daniel Brodsky’s highly imagistic “Conception: A Recollection,” to Kevin Sweeney’s facetiously trendy “Hopefully.” There are memorable speakers in these poems. Pamela Garvey’s beggar in “Toward the Face of Absence” challenges us: “Who assumes responsibility? / Who slips pennies into a cup clanging / with emptiness.” But the editors also enjoy a laugh and on the facing page give us Nathan Graziano’s English teacher, desperate to interest a terminally bored class: “Extended metaphors / sweat in the sheets, / Payment for sticking around / for the entire poem.” Graziano closes his poem with an unforgettable deadpan that I won’t give away here. Intellectually stimulating, accessible, enjoyable—Main Street Rag is everything you could want from a literary magazine. [Main Street Rag, Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Charlotte, NC, 28227. E-mail:. Single issue $7. http://www.mainstreetrag.com/TheHub.html]- DM
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date October 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Congratulations to Co-Editors and proud parents Tanner Higgin and Christopher Vieau on the birth of their child, The Means. The Means, a Michigan native, at once temperamental and charming, incubated for a full two years, paralleling the gestation period of an elephant. In concert with the already unraveling mammalian theme, Higgin writes, in his Editor’s Note, “This first issue contains a virtual Noah’s ark of writers […] absolutely necessary in our rebellion against the literary establishment.” Their complaint? Scarcity of literary journals willing to publish the risqué and the silly, which is exactly what they set out to do. The Means’s debut issue presents readers with seductive ideas in newfangled form. Rebecca Brown’s hyper-experimental essay “The Reading of Water: Subjective Surging Based on Graham Swift’s Waterland” simultaneously annoys and dazzles readers with its meandering style. But Brown ultimately comments steeply, I think, and not un-clearly, on time and its relevance—or irrelevance—to narrative. C.L. Bledsoe’s is-it-a-poem “What To Do In Case of a Locked Door” reads like a set of fold-out directions, making sense even without those tiny useless diagrams. As much sense as preparatory advice for a locked door situation can make. Both pieces are delightful endeavors, and they aren’t on their own. Admittedly, The Means is a new kid on the block, a strange new kid, both in approach and tenor, in a subdivision of more traditionally ‘serious’ journals. In a recent interview, Kim Addonizio commented on this strange new-ish approach to poetry: “earnestness […] to get at that from a different way, irony through humor, some kind of movement sideways.” The Means line dances its way to the dignity it already knows it deserves.
[The Means, P.O. Box 183246, Shelby Township, MI 48318. Single issue $8.]

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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Fall 2015
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In a creative writing course, I was once asked to write the next scene of a story, then rewrite the scene as something entirely unexpected, and then write the scene in yet another direction. The exercise felt uncomfortable at times, pressing into strange or outrageous sequences. By contrast, the poems, stories, and essays in Milkfist take bizarre and wild turns with confidence and without apology. Self-described as “dedicated to showcasing the abscessed underbelly of art, nonfiction, poetry, and prose,” the magazine challenges readers with work that defies conventions of style, form, and storytelling.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Paralleling the instructions in the publication’s opening “Salutations from the Staff”—where the reader is told to gather a variety of ingredients to let simmer—the editors of Meat for Tea have compiled a diverse selection of genres and writing styles in the “Fond” issue. The unifying thread among the pieces is experimentation, either in structure or content. This issue is a collection of permissions, inviting readers to explore the new directions of contemporary creative writing.
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  • Issue Number Issue 22
  • Published Date Autumn 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Most moths are thin, tiny, and fly towards illumination and pollinate. When the 25-page softback-pamphlet from County Cavan, Ireland landed in my mailbox in Albuquerque, I was intrigued at the journal’s similarity to its namesake. Upon first flip through The Moth, it’s clear they take their art seriously—a photo of gold fish bowl with a bullet hole by Robert C. Jackson entitled “Rotten Escape,” Pat Perry’s “In the Yard,” ink sketches, Diaz Alamá’s haunting portraits of stunning muses and Wen Wu’s cover art, “Wild Swan,” which captures the profile of serene femininity—prepare the reader for a look into the finer side of life. The detail, delicacy and craftsmanship of the selected art, supported by the power of the prose, make it clear from first glimpse, The Moth is not just another freebee-wannabe stacked-by-the-coffee-shop-door listings pile selling ad space and flavor-of-the-week. This tiny journal is flying towards the light.
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  • Issue Number Issue 191
  • Published Date Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Malahat Review has published their $1000 Long Poem Contest winners, and boy are they long, and powerful. Gary Geddes’ 18-page persona poem “The Resumption of Play” gives a post-modern kaleidoscope view of a First Nations boy’s brutal kidnapping into one of the residential schools that blights a chapter of Canadian History with shame. With lines such as, “Kill the Indian in the child was Scott’s / ’final solution.’ Remove parents, culture, language, replace them with perverts, / sociopaths,” Geddes pulls no punches.
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  • Issue Number Volume 18
  • Published Date 2015
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of Mudfish opens with the winner of the 11th Mudfish Poetry Prize Chosen by Charles Simic: “Waking Alone on Sunday Morning” by Elisabeth Murawski.
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The theme of this issue of the University of Missouri’s The Missouri Review is “Defy.” Long-time editor Speer Morgan contributes a five-page introduction, which has this sentence: “The best new voices often defy the accepted in the quest for new themes, subjects and possibilities of form.” He then cites Beethoven, Picasso and Jane Austen, all contemporary cultural staples. Likewise, The Missouri Review is mainstream and established. The writers and artists celebrated in this issue—David Mitchell, Michael West and Jacob Riis—are equally so.
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  • Issue Number Anthology 2014
  • Published Date 2015
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The Missing Slate, based in Islamabad, Pakistan, is an ambitious gathering of ideas from around the world in the form of poetry, essays, and stories, accented with dazzling artwork. This is the first print anthology from the previously online-only forum.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
The triannual, online Moss is “dedicated to bringing Northwest literature to new audiences and exposing the emerging voices of the region to discerning readers, critics, and publishers.” What better way to do this than by opening the Spring 2015 issue with an interview with Rebecca Brown, a Seattle-based writer?
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  • Issue Number Issue 17
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Midwestern Gothic is “dedicated to featuring work about or inspired by the Midwest, by writers who live or have lived here.” On their About page, the editors say, “we take to heart the realistic aspects of Gothic fiction. Not every piece needs to be dark or twisted or full of despair, but we are looking for real life, inspired by the region, good, bad, or ugly.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 19 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Main Street Rag has a different vibe from your distantly intellectual, even-tempered literary journal. It’s unpredictable, quirky. At the very beginning, Publisher/Editor M. Scott Douglass writes in The Front Seat column about why the issue is late and about the kerfuffle of the North Carolina governor inserting himself into the selection of state poet laureate. When he’s had his say on these topics, he directs us to The Back Seat (distinguished by cream-colored pages) toward the end of the issue, where he takes on the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina. This is a hands-on, opinionated rag.
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  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Never have I felt a literary magazine embody its name more than the current issue of The Meadow. Its contents guide readers through a field of language which sets forth a landscape of natural beauty that’s not without its seasonal allergies. The Meadow amalgamates previously published writers like Keith Dunlap with students, such as Kirsten Jachimiak, who attend Truckee Meadows Community College where the magazine is published.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Medical Literary Messenger is an online/PDF journal aimed to “promote humanism and the healing arts through prose, poetry, and photography.” All work relates in some way to medicine, illness, or the body, and this issue includes reflections from doctors, patients, and family members of those who are sick. But the journal isn’t simply a platform for those to express themselves and heal through words; it’s also an intriguing read and delicate look into the lives of others.
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  • Issue Number Volume 45 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

Last month I reviewed Frogpond and noted it as one of THE journals for haiku enthusiasts. Modern Haiku is another of THE journals haikuists should be reading. This journal has been in continuous print since 1969, with a masthead of esteemed haiku experts, each a haiku household name: Kay Titus Mormino, Robert Spiess, Lee Gurga, Charles Trumbull, and the current editor, Paul Miller.

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  • Issue Number Volume 55 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

This all-poetry issue of The Midwest Quarterly was a treat that did not disappoint. I grew up in a rural community, population south of 4000, and we were the county seat: these poems spoke straight to my childhood. As with all good poems, I’m sure there are pieces here that will speak to city folk as well, but the trip down memory lane was outstanding for me. The only gripe I have about the entire issue is that there was no table of contents for easy reference, so it took some effort to relocate my favorites for closer inspection.

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  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
According to its inviting website, Minetta Review is “a student-run publication at New York University [which also considers] writing and artwork from all over the country, and . . . [has] even published international submissions.” It’s the oldest literary publication at NYU; this is the publication’s fortieth anniversary.
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  • Issue Number Issue 14
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The fourteenth issue of MAKE Literary Magazine focuses on visual culture, toying with the ideas of perception and image. The journal itself is stunning—a mix of colored, white, and black pages that proclaims on its front, “All colors, are, in fact, here.” It’s a line plucked from Cristina Rivera Garza’s poem “I. Despejar” or “I. To Clear.” And it fits perfectly, given that MAKE has a little bit of everything—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, book reviews, artists’ portfolios, an interview, translations, and comics are all represented and flow together flawlessly for fulfilling, well-rounded read.
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fiction’s first with the Mississippi Review, as usual, and this issue begins with a story about fake implants called “A Miracle of Nature” – oh, the irony! Things go wrong, as things should in short stories, and the final line clinches it with “But back then she couldn’t say no; she couldn’t.” Ten more short stories follow, including Colin Bassett’s “This is so We Don’t Start Fighting” and Jennifer Pashley’s “How to Have an Affair in 1962,” which begins as all thusly titled stories should, with the directness of the line “we meet in public.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I really like the way Main Street Rag fits in my hand; it's the perfect size for a literary magazine. It's also cool that MSR publishes letters from readers. In my experience, that's a rarity for a literary mag, but one that I think adds to the experience of reading a magazine. It's always fun to see what other readers have to say. Publisher/Editor M. Scott Douglass clearly puts a considerable amount of work into Main Street Rag, and marks each issue with his own “Front Seat” and “Back Seat” columns that bookend the contents. Not shy about veering into political territory, Douglass launches this particular issue's “Back Seat” into a commentary on American economics and class struggles, offering up his own solutions on tax issues (two options to choose from!). This sort of diatribe within a literary magazine may seem out of place to some readers, but I found it refreshing. It helps to project the image that MSR is quite comfortable in its own skin.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Literature broke into the literary world just this year. The first guest editor, Gayle Brandeis, is an author of both young adult and adult fiction and has also been honored for her work as an activist. A little blurb on the back of the collection promises that Magnolia is “a diverse collection that will open your eyes, challenge your thinking, and break your heart.” And Magnolia certainly delivers.
  • Issue Number Number 5
  • Published Date Spring 2008
This issue celebrates dirty funny, e.g. bathroom humor, disfigurement, internet porn, genitalia, an aborted fetus, sodomy jokes, piercing mishaps, unusual orgasms, Beckett and Whitman; in essence, something for everyone. If you’re not amused by your own gas then you probably won’t laugh at some of these stories. Then again, you may not get what language we speak here on Earth. Guest-editor Eric Spitznagel distinguishes between run-of-the-bowl boring poo jokes and true poo humor: those that float or sink on their literary merit. Ahem.
  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Modern Haiku is not only a delight for haiku enthusiasts, but a pleasant surprise to readers looking for more understanding of this deceptively simple poetic form.
As you would expect, the “Editor’s Prize Issue” of the Missouri Review features the editor’s prize winners of both the fiction and essay contests and the Larry Levis poetry prize winner in addition to a selection of other fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews.
One look at Murdaland’s cover and you know that you won’t be disappointed. It shows a potbellied assassin taking aim with a nearly-finished cigarello in his mouth, nothing but boxers on, and a look of precision in his one open eye.
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  • Issue Number Volume 50 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Hayan Charara’s poem, “What Is Mine,” begins this issue and sets the tone for remaining selections of exemplary fiction, non-fiction, poetry and artwork. Charara writes, “It’s like that – / to know something / is for it to become / something else.” Multiple pieces in this volume seem to explore the idea of knowing, of seeing something more clearly through experience and knowledge. One example is Melinda Moustakis’s mother character in “This One Isn’t Going to Be Afraid,” who is known in body parts: nails, biceps, calves, shoulders, hands, feet, skin, teeth, eyes, stomach, and cheekbones. Each part tells a different story of a life, told through the daughter, as she seeks to understand the mother and herself. Or in Sara Majka’s “White Heart Bar,” where the disappearance of a young woman is explored from multiple perspectives.
A wry anecdote appears in Ed Readicker-Henderson’s “How to Go to Hell” in this issue of Motionsickness.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall + Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Fall + Winter 2008 issue of Memoir fluctuates from brilliant, precise, and unbelievably apt to sentimental, predictable, and disappointing. Reading this issue from cover to cover feels like a wild rollercoaster ride; while the peaks are so incredibly steep they are totally worth the purchase price of this issue on their own, the valleys are a dull and thrill-less place whose only attribute is the promise of an upcoming incline.
  • Issue Number Volume 21 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Voices from Okinawa comes in a study jacket with an ornate, colorful illustration depicting a procession of gaily clad musicians that covers the entire bottom half of the cover. The upper half is in a bold crimson featuring a small insert with a man in a splendid robe riding a horse; the title is printed all across the cover in large green letters. The overall appearance is very Japanese. Running through the literature is the theme concerning the connection between Okinawa and Japan. Japan took over the sovereign country of Okinawa that actually had a connection to China in the nineteenth century, making its people second-class citizens in their own homeland. The struggle runs through every piece in this journal.
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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date January 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue might be the last of Magnapoets, as Editor Aurora Antonovic is taking a year-long break to work on other projects and assessing whether to let her publication die or give it a new birth. The cover—a gorgeous red photograph of the Horsehead Nebula, taken by Don McCrady—is a perfect tribute, as nebulas are either the remains of old stars or material for new ones.
  • Issue Number Volume 48 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Laurence Goldstein, Michigan Quarterly Review’s editor for 32 years, is stepping down. His last issue is a doozey. But, let me back up and start at the beginning. Not with his brief and poignant farewell, but with the journal’s cover. A stunning photograph of Orson Welles in a 1947 production of Macbeth introducing the portfolio of letters and memos from the Orson Welles Collections at the University of Michigan, curated and introduced here by Catherine L. Benamou. But, let me back up even further and start “above the fold,” for the photo is the bottom half of the cover. The top half is a glorious and amusing juxtaposition of the extremes of academe: “On the Originals of American Modernist Poetry,” an essay by Frank Lentricchia and “The Dirty Little Secret of Sabbatical,” an essay by Susannah B Mintz. Okay, I might as well admit it. I went straight for Mintz’s essay. “The Adored Long Ago: Poets on their Long-Lost Loves,” by Mark Halliday (also announced on the cover) competed, but only briefly, for my attention. Mintz’s dirty secret won out.
  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Whether or not it’s deliberate or simply a happy accident, the Table of Contents is, in and of itself, simply fabulous. Listen to these titles: “The poem I’m obsessed with,” “Have you ever noticed how many bugs,” “The Simple Life Reveals its Complications,” “Marriage, it turned out, was a disappointment,” “Swee’ Dadday’s Big Sanyo,” Going to Jail Free,” “Triptych of My Aunt Linda, Poet in Her Own Right, Frightened of Bicycles,” “The Wrong Thing, the Bad Thing the Untrue Thing.” A welcome and true sign of the originality to come.
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  • Issue Number Number 5
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Three beautiful postcard inserts on quality uncoated cardstock of artworks by Rachel Burgess, William Gilespie, and Sasha Chavehavadze that appear in the issue extend Marginalia’s theme – ekphrasis – and impact. Ekphrasis is, essentially any work of art based on another. The most cited example, though by no means the earliest, is Auden’s poem on Bruegel’s painting “Musée des Beaux Arts.”
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2005
Me Three delivers prose in all its bountiful forms: fiction, personal essays, criticism, and even “unclassifiables.”
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The extremely high quality of the very first issue of Minnetonka Review – a varied, 170 pages of short-stories, poetry, non-fiction and an excerpt of a novel and interview of the author – is set at the very beginning. My breath was taken away by Robin Lippincott’s “Hibakuska (August 6, 1945)” from his novel, In the Meantime. The excerpt is from Japan shortly after the dropping of the first A-bomb – and Lippincott manages to make us believe he was there, and a native. It is so gripping, I was ashamed of being an American as I read of the destruction wrought there as told through the poetic, fatalistic eyes of a young Japanese man.
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  • Issue Number Volume 24 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In the United States, the word freedom is talismanic, introduced from kindergarten as the American creation myth and held up by politicians and news commentators, rightly or not, as the premier American export. We own the idea—so the subtext goes—and the rest of the world struggles to become like us. So when I hold in my hand the Winter 2012 issue of Mānoa, called On Freedom: Spirit, Art, and State, I wonder how each piece and photograph defines freedom: does the definition conform or aspire to the American definition, and is it first and foremost political?
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Peripheral by nature, Marginalia’s slice-of-life vignettes range from titles such as “Other People are a Maze” to Barbara Baer’s “Korean Ribs.” The latter includes a wonderfully translated line, “Please hair that looks like sow.” Only an Animal Collective song can compare in its breadth of lyrics to the wonderfully captured sentiment and moment in each piece.
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of the Mississippi Review somehow evokes a European tone, though the journal is firmly rooted in the Deep South. Editor Frederick Barthelme’s selections for the Review’s fiction and poetry prizes are united by the narrative risks taken by the authors. These gambles pay off for the most part, resulting in work that grabs more attention than conventional work while still fulfilling the reader’s craving for the standard story elements, including plot, character and setting.
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Known for its colloquial writing, The Main Street Rag, in its latest issue, features an interview with Steve Roberts, author of the Main Street Rag poetry book Another Word for Home; six fiction entries (though one is also, perplexingly, labeled as “Commentary”); over 100 pages devoted to poetry, including writers such as Lyn Lyfshin; five book reviews, and a page of feedback from readers.
For twenty years, Moon City Review was a student-run biannual journal published by the Missouri State University department of English. With the 2009 issue, the magazine transitions to a “book annual featuring work in various genres from multiple communities; from current students and faculty to celebrated alums and artists of regional, national, and even international reputation.” The new journal will include a section titled “Archival Treasures from the Ozarks,” which will “’bring back’ artists whose works lie languishing, and largely forgotten.” In their lengthy introduction announcing these changes, the editors invite submissions for future issues, which will focus on special themes, though not to the exclusion of other work, to include “speculative fictions,” an alumni issue, and the art and literature of children and adolescents.
The Meadow is an annual journal published by Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. Truckee Meadows students serve on the editorial board and represent the largest group of contributors to the magazine, although this issue’s contributors also include several MFA students from large universities and a few more seasoned writers. The centerpiece of the issue is an interview with novelist and memoirist Kim Barnes (A Country Called Home, Finding Caruso, In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in an Unknown Country, Hungry for the World), conducted by the journal’s fiction editor, Mark Maynard. They discuss the genesis of Barnes’s most recent novel, the importance of place in that book, her writing process, and her upcoming work.
  • Issue Number Number 168
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Despite much evidence to the contrary, or the apparent – or at least underestimated – challenges of doing so, it is possible to write an original and unforgettable speaker-meets-nature poem; or a speaker talks-to-poem poem; or a family story poem; or a poem with diction as casual as a nonchalant conversation; or a poem with images of popular culture; or yet one more poem about the mystery of math. It is possible to write an original and satisfying story from the perspective of a child or an adolescent that is also mature and inventive, not excessively playful or childish. It is possible to write a book review that exhibits intellectual sophistication without resorting to jargon. It is, in fact, possible to find all of these original and exceptional pieces in one place, writing by Susan Gillis, Jefferey Donaldson, Sam Cheuk, Rachel Rose, Eve Joseph, Ross Leckie, Eliza Robertson, Devon Code, Jackie Gay, Eric Miller – in The Malahat Review.
  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date Fall/winter 2009/2010
I didn’t even realize publications like make/shift still existed. What a relief! Reading this radical magazine-style (not journal, magazine!) publication made me nostalgic for Off Our Backs (maybe even for On Our Backs) and Lesbian Connections and the let’s-turn-the-world-upside-down rags I looked forward to every month in the 70’s and 80’s when women’s bookstores were (sometimes) dangerous and (always) exhilarating, and I could rely on feminist writing to inspire and sustain me.
  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
One appreciates a literary magazine with a central theme, and this is precisely what MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine delivers. It trains it sights on the underdogs of society, with stories and poem focused on character and a sense of place, depicting individuals who have been brushed aside or overlooked by society.
  • Subtitle the guide to life (like we know what we're talking about)
  • Published Date 2003
Fun. Funky. Wild. Weird. Probably is best to read this at midnight. If it's not necessarily the most reliable guide to life, it's certainly an entertaining experience.
  • Issue Number Volume 42 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2003
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
It’s a hard journal to gauge from the cover—a photo of, presumably, Shanghai, with a KFC billboard, Col. Sanders smiling from long past the grave, interrupting the Asian aesthetic.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2005
Though the editors of Make magazine cite Chicago literary patriarch Nelsen Algren as their inspiration, you don’t have to be a Chicagoan to be in Make’s debut issue.
  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The preference in Main Street Rag is for transparency, work with plain, strong language and a clear point of view — Scott C. Holstad's "I Want It All," for example ("Fuck the sweats, / I want the world. / No rhyming for me, / no structured / bullshit, I want / to spread out, / feel the bullets / whistle past."); or Nicole Lynskey's "Talker at the Café" ("The extrovert-talker / could be a pit-bull on a cell-phone / for all that her dark-haired friend / is allowed to speak, / in her 'this-funny-anecdote', / 'that-divorced-couple' conversation…"); or Glen Chestnut's "The Pickup" ("Sometime in the 1950's / A construction site / somewhere in the jungles of Colombia. / Work had stopped for the day. / The mountains to the west / had swallowed up the last rays of sun.")
  • Issue Number Volume 46 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring 2005
Rare is the poem that combines senses, emotions, and intellect, that contains ability to ease in and out of natural worlds, both internal and external.
  • Issue Number Volume 46 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Massachusetts Review is the perfect antidote to beach reading, a cultural exploration that enriches us and at the same time reminds us that we are all connected to and responsible for the world we inhabit.
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
A good publication to consult for fine contemporary poetry, The Manhattan Review here offers a special double issue for the 2005 Winter/Spring volume.
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Mantis editor Bronwen Tate describes the issue’s contents as “exciting” in her Editor’s Note. An understatement if I have ever read one. The journal is, in fact, exhilarating, captivating, inspiring, and highly original. In addition to new poems from Clayton Eshelman, Adam Clay, Sina Queyras, and Gretchen E. Henderson, this issue features translations – in discrete, handsomely collected groupings, all beautifully translated – of the work of Italian poet Alda Merini, German poet Veronka Reichl, and poet Andrei Sen-Senkov (originally from Tajikistan, now a resident of Moscow), and a special section “Remembering Celan”; a fascinating series of 10 interviews by Elizabeth Bradfield and Kate Schapira “Temporarily at Home: Poets on Travel and Writing”; and smart reviews of books I might not know had been published, were it not for Mantis. The magazine is produced with a kind of subtle elegance and graphic flair seldom encountered and is impressive and polished from the selection of contents to their careful and appealing presentation.
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
One of the most unusual aspects of The Missouri Review is the treatment of poetry, the presentation of a group of poems (6-7) by a small number of poets, rather than a single poem by dozens of writers. This issue features the work of John W. Evans, Benjamin S. Grossberg, and Jonathan Johnson. Their selections are preceded by a personal statement, a photo, and longer-than-typical-for-literary-mag bios.
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  • Issue Number Volume 51 Number 4
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Published at Pittsburg State University in the other Pittsburg (Kansas), Midwest Quarterly publishes poetry and scholarly articles intended to be “interesting and readable.”
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  • Issue Number Number 171
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of one of the very best journals published in North America features the magazine’s novella prize-winner “Brains,” by Tony Tulathimutte, the work of 16 poets, an essay by Jessica Kluthe, and a number of smart book reviews.
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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 3
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Mississippi Review, edited in Hattiesburg, printed in Brooklyn, and disseminated worldwide, does not accept unsolicited work, but its winter 2013 compilation is diverse, as though culled from every doorstep in this hemisphere, and the next. I found myself acutely aware of the language in the journal. You can have rich ideas but spare prose, and for me, when you have both you have discovered something rich and renewable. The takeaway is clear; buy two copies, so you can draw exclamations in the margin of one and keep the other pristine.
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2012/2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The history of millions in one cold breath, one empty train station, one terrifying silence. This issue of The Manhattan Review plants us in the aftermath of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and then attacks it mercilessly from the individual, not the statistical. Those who lived to deal with the silence, to inhabit neighborhoods forever changed, move on.
  • Subtitle New Beginnings
  • Published Date Spring 2004
Many Mountains Moving has traditionally been one of my favorite magazines, partly for the idiosyncracy of its new-agey platform, if you will, and partly because the quality of the writing is consistently strong and operates on a personal level.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 3
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The large, red circle in the journal’s cover makes sense, because family and blood runs deep in this issue, in poems and short stories that talk about husbands and wives, sibling rivalry, or fathers and daughters.
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Anyone interested in the present state of the literary journal, both print and online, should definitely consult the latest issue of the Mississippi Review. In the Introduction, the editors announce their celebration of the 100th anniversary of the contemporary literary magazine, and say, “We devote this issue to an investigation of what the literary magazine has become and where it may be headed.” There follows a cornucopia of useful information.
  • Issue Number Volume 49 Number 3
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I like the juxtapositions in this issue of MR. On the left hand side of the page is Karen Kevorkian’s poem, “Crowded Rooms,” with lines as lyrically wrought as “the white coned / datura whose tissue cup / I lifted and there / it would be rankly sweet / in a starving time,” and on the facing page Fancine Witte’s sudden fiction, “The Way the Vase Got Broken”: “Was the cat. First, he did his little purr thing, followed by his sinewy arch thing. This was all topped off by his jump thing and then that, was just that.”
  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The annual Fineline Competition issue is always one of my favorites. The contest is open to entries of prose poetry, sudden fiction or non-fiction, or other “literary work that defies classification” (500 words or less). There’s a kind of freedom in the “sudden” form that seems to bring out the best in writers of all types. This year's first-place winner is MFA student Ryan Teitman who creates a little museum of oddities, “The Cabinet of Things Swallowed,” that ends in a surprise or, more accurately, in the promise of a surprise. It’s the sense of promise that I appreciate most in these short works. Take, for example, the start of J.L. Conrad’s “Meanwhile,” one of the Editor’s Choice winners: “My dreams inscribe for me a world in which.” Or Editor’s Choice winner Alan Michael Parker’s opening line in “Our New System of Government”: “We believe we were misinformed.” The editors received nearly 2,000 submissions for the contest. I’m clearly not the only one who appreciates the form.
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  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
The cover image for this issue of Menacing Hedge—“A Tree” by Alexander Jansson—is a perfect intro to what you’ll find inside. The image features a tree house I’d definitely like to climb up in, with a collection of empty picture frames, lanterns, and odds and ends hanging from the branches of the trees. It’s odd, it’s magical, it’s unique: truly representative of the work inside.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In this issue’s featured interview, author Dan Choan says, “A big part of my life has been feeling out of place in one world or another and trying to adjust to that sense of being alien all the time.” Displacement is a central theme in the fall issue of The Missouri Review, and the journal’s diverse settings keep readers moving as well. Most pieces at the beginning of the journal place readers abroad, showcasing the magazine’s attention to current political issues. It is about two-thirds of the way through that the stories take a turn toward cityscapes. (Burt Kimmelman’s urban nonfiction, Peter LaSalle’s NYC story and Kristine Somerville’s essay on graffiti art.) The final piece of fiction situates readers in rural Maine in Stephanie DeGhett’s story “Balsam.” We are constantly moving in this issue, but what ultimately unites all the included pieces is a thoughtfulness and quality of writing that make this issue a humbling, excellent read.
  • Issue Number Number 160
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue marks the publication’s fortieth anniversary with an entire issue in tribute to the founder, long-time editor, and guiding spirit, Robin Skelton. Here we have a “collage” of pieces from students, friends, peers, and people who never even met him – the “composite,” as Editor John Barton said, “emerging from the overlapping and multilayered reminiscences, essays, and poems by forty-one contributors from five countries is not exact, but the likeness suits our beloved, be-ringed, pentacled, cape-draped and walking-stick-strutting master.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 7 Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Mezzo Cammin is a journal “devoted to formal poetry by women.” The explanation of the title is explained as such:
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  • Issue Number Volume 17
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Mudfish, a journal founded by Jill Hoffman in 1984, marries poetry and art in a spellbinding series of verve and verse. For a quick and accessible view of the art in full color, the Mudfish website has an exquisite introduction to a moving collection of drawings, paintings, and photographs included in this volume. The poetry is likewise compelling and contains this year’s contest winners, as selected by Mark Doty. But for the poetry in its entirety, you may have to schlep it to a Barnes & Noble, where select stores feature the journal—see the website for participating locations.
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  • Issue Number Volume 7 Issue 3
  • Published Date September 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This particular issue of Meat for Tea carries a theme of “Bone.” Visual artists and wordsmiths took every possible definition of that single word, and the editors did a good job weaving together a cohesive, enjoyable 91 total pages of work. A sprinkling of images kept the words from running together, sort of like commercials that I was excited to encounter.
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  • Issue Number Volume 42 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Perhaps of all the poetic forms—sonnet, ghazal, villanelle, sestina— the haiku is the most elegant. A tiny, carefully constructed edifice, its 5-7-5 pattern must contain within some image or message. And of all the poetic forms, perhaps the haiku is the poetic form that is most contemporarily relevant. For those of us who are constantly texting or emailing, brevity is king. It’s not surprising that there is a form of Twitter haikus called Twaikus.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date October 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
It could be said that The Masters Review presents the same value proposition as do The Best New American Voices, The New Yorker’s “20 under 40” fiction showcase, and Poets & Writers listings of leading new poets. That value proposition is the culling of new talent from diverse sources, a way of framing a structure of gifted writers today under the strong light microscope of editorial review.
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  • Issue Number Volume 18 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Main Street Rag is published quarterly out of Charlotte, North Carolina. This issue opens with an interview with photographer Bryce Lankard, whose photos grace the cover and are included within the pages of text. The interview is a contemplative discussion of art and its purposes from Lankard’s point of view. His photos after Hurricane Katrina serve two purposes, “one to address the public debate and a second to address the loss.” He goes on to say that he “wanted to show New Orleans as flawed yet beautiful” and “remind people of the city’s cultural uniqueness and how rich it had been in providing the fabric of America—so the rest of the country would not abandon New Orleans.” His NOLA photographs accomplish these objectives. His 9/11 photographs reveal where the photographer was when the planes hit the towers and show life moving at an accustomed pace even in those moments. Lynda C. Ward’s interview illustrates Lankard’s passion and approach to the world.
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  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring-Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The MacGuffin, published by Schoolcraft College, is a treasure-trove of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, especially short fiction. The style is fairly traditional, which makes it easy to read and digest, but never dull. There is so much good prose that it is worth reading for that alone. It does not separate fiction from nonfiction, and I find it difficult to identify for certain mostly which is which—once on the page, what is the difference between fiction and nonfiction? Is there such a thing as nonfiction when it is words on a page? Which is stranger, or harder to believe, or comes across as more meaningful, or contrived?
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  • Issue Number Volume 54 Number 1
  • Published Date Autumn 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Midwest Quarterly, published at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, is a no-frills, no-nonsense journal of scholarly essays and poetry.
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“A poet’s love of poetry is everything,” says Rodney Jones, interviewed in this issue by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum. The Missouri Review editors love what they do, too – they have created something that is clearly a labor of love.
  • Issue Number Volume 20 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Enduring War: Stories of What We've Learned is an edifying volume that is not exactly lacking in timeliness: Have war stories ever been irrelevant? But this is not a volume to be read with self-righteousness; the lessons from world conflict are never easy to swallow. As Manoa reveals, war always seems to exist on the periphery of our consciousness, something that happened "over there" or "back then." The photographic images of Darfur refugees may not be graphic or shocking, but they do capture the feeling and pain that can easily get lost in the drone of the media. In his introduction, Editor Frank Stewart quotes the novelist Carlos Fuentes: "Literature makes real what history forgot." The task of literature, then, is to uncover the truth that the makers of history (and war) will find unpleasant.
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  • Issue Number Volume 49 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I admired Esther Schor’s recent biography of Emma Lazarus very much, so I was happy to find a new essay of hers in Michigan Quarterly Review (“The G20 and the E17”), and that’s where I entered this volume. The essay’s about a conference in a town three hours east of Istanbul, Turkey on Esperanto, the “international language” first created by the Polish Jewish occultist L. L. Zamenhof in the late 1880’s. I appreciate Schor’s lucid, fluid prose and the way in which she deftly moves the essay toward a consideration of other issues larger in scope and implication than the fate of Esperanto.
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This is a somewhat quirky fledgling literary magazine that is just cranking up and has fond hopes for its future. Not only are the winter offerings presented online, but a print edition is also available for purchase. The website is a little difficult to negotiate, but the offerings range from fiction and poetry to interviews and book reviews.
  • Subtitle A Literary Journal
  • Issue Number Volume IV
  • Published Date 2004
Mindprints, from the Learning Assistance Program of Allan Hancock College, is an annual literary journal “for writers and artists with disabilities or those with an interest in disabilities.” In this issue, Marcia Mascolini’s hilarious/wise “Hocus Pocus” considers real-world faith in one very wriggly kid’s encounter with an unmelting Communion wafer: “You have touched the Body of Christ, they yelled. I didn’t really think so. If I had touched the Body of Christ, I think it would have felt more like chicken.”
This perfectly-bound academic quarterly out of Pittsburgh State University (that’s Pittsburgh, Kansas, not Pennsylvania) presents poetry, articles, and reviews.
  • Issue Number Issue 23
  • Published Date 2004
A Christian publication, Mars Hill Review is distinguished by its willingness to leave behind the preaching-to-the-choir safety of explicitly Christian texts and venture forth into the realm of pop culture in search of what MHR calls “reminders of God.” This issue offers a spiritually in-depth interview with poet Carolyn Forche, Cindy Crosby’s piece on the restoration of her faith as she helps restore a prairie, stories, poetry, and a generous selection of assumption-challenging book, film, and music reviews—these last on topics as diverse as the Christian-Celtic connection and garage rock revisited. You’ll find here articles supported by Bible verses alongside cogent cultural commentary that would be at home in any (secular) literary magazine. Of the latter, particularly insightful is Craig Detweiler’s review of Sofia Coppola’s fine film Lost in Translation. Informed by memories of his own isolating sojourn in Japan, Detweiler’s assessment, like the film itself, calls attention to what is missing, to that something beyond ordinary life that we all seek in imperfect ways...
  • Issue Number Number 164
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Journalist and filmmaker Tadzio Richards won the magazine’s 2008 Far Horizons Award with “Travels in Beringia,” selected from more than 500 entries and featured in this issue. It’s an odd time, to be sure, to be reading about the “sea frozen with chipped ice” that lies between Siberia and Alaska (which mentioned more in the news media in the US in 2008 than it likely was in the entire century before the last presidential election).
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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Before you read The Medulla Review, take everything you think you know about our world and throw it out the window; the stories contained within the issue will challenge new ways to think about the way it actually works. You’ll discover a world in which all men turn, quite literally, into pigs; you’ll meet a man who removes, again quite literally, the faces of women before he can sleep with him; you’ll be introduced, in biography form, to Judas Horse, the world’s greatest cheese artist (“he is best known for his map sculptures of each of the fifty United States and territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the USVI done entirely in cheese, chewed into shape by his own unique teeth”); and you’ll even find yourself navigating a maze as a lonely lab rat.
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  • Issue Number Issue 13
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Access. Activism. Marginality. (In)visibility. Social justice. Key concepts in LGBTQ circles, whether explicitly or subtly voiced in an Indonesian metropolis or an American prison, Palestine, or San Francisco. In the newest issue of Los Angeles-based make/shift, a vital magazine that “embraces the multiple and shifting identities of feminist communities,” filmmakers, documentarians, project organizers, and others reveal lives marking daily realities through visual and performing arts as well as through grassroots actions. This insightful, cogent selection offers several contemporary perspectives on urgent issues, including: violence and murder among transgendered populations; racial profiling playing a role in the arrest of a teenager; lingering consequences of abuse; and, in a featured interview with Victoria Law, author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, the problems these women face, such as limited resources for childcare and shackling during childbirth.
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  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
While The Meadow, an annual journal published by Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, is not exclusive to any region in its scope, it appears to reflect a cohesive sensibility, a conversational approach to creative writing. It begs the question as to whether or not someday we’ll look back to the poets of the West as a distinct school, like the New York School with O’Hara and Ashbury, except that instead of the MOMA we’ll see the glittering of the Vegas slot machines, the boiling petri dishes of Los Alamos.
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  • Issue Number Number 180
  • Published Date Autumn 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Two outstanding Canadian literary journals have collaborated on separate issues consisting of work from each other’s patch. This issue of Malahat, based in British Columbia (B.C.), features “Essential East Coast Writing” in collaboration with Fiddlehead, published in New Brunswick. Alternately, Fiddlehead published a West Coast issue. Malahat Editor John Barton traces the idea to a 2010 residency at University of New Brunswick and conversations with Fiddlehead Editor Ross Leckie. The result, at least by reading the Mahalat half, is a celebration of artistic vibrancy on both coasts.
  • Issue Number Issue 28
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Since its beginnings 1998, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (or simply McSweeney’s) has maintained its reputation as one of the most innovative literary journals in publishing today.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
After clicking on the man’s face and having him wink at me to enter the site, I knew Miracle Monocle had to be entertaining. I scrolled down and first read “The Importance of Not Losing One’s Head” by Adam Krause and instantly knew I had to review this magazine, even if it was just to mention this one microfiction piece. Short, it invokes a sort of black comedy as the character quite literally loses his head. But no worries, he pantomimes in the street as he looks for it. This doesn’t earn him his head, but he does receive a quarter. That’s all I’ll say; just go read it.
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  • Issue Number Volume 51 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
An inherent complication arises when writers (or editors or critics) consider the meaning of “place” in literature. It’s certainly true that an author is influenced by the geography and communities that shaped him. It’s equally true on another level that people are the same all over, filled crown to toe with the same hopes and fears. This issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review contains pieces that are accented by the flora and fauna and hardy inhabitants of the Great Lakes region. The contributors indeed communicate the unique feeling of being lost in the Minnesota prairie while tapping into the pathos that unites us all.
  • Issue Number Volume 5
  • Published Date June 2006 - May 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In this volume of Mare Nostrum, poems, prose, translation, and reviews are inspired by the traveling exhibit, to Seattle, of Florentine art restored after a 1966 flood. Each piece here is lively and deserving of praise, and has a prominent sense of belonging within these pages. The reader gets a glimpse of this in editor Kevin Craft’s foreword. To wit, “Seeing them restored was like witnessing the first gleam of the Renaissance all over again – the emergence, literally, of perspective as a compositional axiom, of naturalism in the fine shades of feeling etched into each attentive figure.” And, like art itself, the pieces here are both alluringly ambiguous, and wrought with imagination that begs to be understood.
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  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date January 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Short and sweet is probably the most appropriate description of Magnapoets, a biannual literary journal out of Ontario, Canada. The 8x10, saddle-stapled journal features four essays on poetry, six pages of Free Verse and Form poetry, six pages of Haiku and Senryu, and six pages of Tanka.
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2007
A fanciful painting of a woman dressed in a flowing blue brocade-patterned gown and an elaborate masquerade-ball mask, her mouth jet-red and her head tilted coyly, graces the cover of The Missouri Review’s summer issue, which bears the tag “Truth in Fancy.” The work inside lives up to this promise – especially the fiction, the surreal cast of which mirrors the lush strangeness of Ray Caesar’s cover painting.
  • Issue Number Volume 9
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
“Mandorla,” the Italian word for “almond,” refers to the almond-shaped intersection between two overlapping circles. An ancient symbol of the union of opposites, the mandorla has represented, throughout the history of both Eastern and Western cultures, a sacred space within which a mortal being can realize his or her divine potential.
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  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Is it backhanded to say that most of Moon City Review 2013 is promising? The truth is, the issue is eclectic and accessible. The prose narratives tell their stories in a straightforward manner that hold my attention, and the poems leave little doubt as to the image or sentiment they’re driving for. But as I read, I often find myself wishing that many of these pieces had received one more editorial pass: so little separates them from promising to satisfying.
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  • Issue Number Number 15
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
A literary, though not a little, magazine, Mandorla is published by the Department of English at Illinois State University in Normal, in collaboration with Southern Methodist University, where its founding editor, Roberto Tejada, is a distinguished professor of art history. Tejada’s interest in interdisciplinary research and synergies infuse the magazine with a focus on the creative process and the synthesis of multiple art forms. This 542-page tome is the 15th issue of the magazine, which started in Mexico in 1991 and has been published yearly under the current aegis since 2004.
“Tell me about loneliness,” begins Peter Selgin’s arresting short story, “Color of the Sea.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In his lucid, wise introduction to this issue of the highly-reputed Missouri Review, Editor Speer Morgan invokes paradox and opposition, those twin universals of human existence, as the theme of the day. “Falling man” is the image on the cover and the title of his survey of the issue’s contents, and in referring to “the potential uncertainty of the given” as the driving principle of its stories, essays, and poems, he’s utterly correct. But I’d also argue that another theme, present in equal abundance, is beauty of language, deep respect for the right words in the right order, every bit as much in the prose as in the poetry. This—as always—is a magazine for the connoisseur. There is nothing amateur about it.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The latest issue of this well-known journal is like a house that turns out to be much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. Here are its rooms: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and book reviews; a translation chapbook; three entries from the 2013 Fineline Competition; and two winners from the 2013 AWP Intro Journals Awards.
  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If you are like me, you often find the unknowns packing more punch than the big names in literary magazines. So you will probably be excited to see the Mid-American Review devoting an issue to unpublished authors.
  • Issue Number Volume 44 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
What makes this issue exceptionally interesting is the range of sensibilities found here.
  • Issue Number Number 150
  • Published Date March 2005
The Malahat Review is characterized by a generous editorial vision. This issue is especially eclectic with poems by nine poets and nine fiction writers whose work ranges from experimental to solidly traditional.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 5
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
The Molotov Cocktail is interested in, as the submissions page indicates, "volatile flash fiction, the kind you cook up in a bathtub and handle with rubber gloves."
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue is consistent with Main Street’s approach both to the mag and its chapbook series, direct, approachable poems and stories composed of casual diction, conversational tones, and familiar imagery. This issue features an interview with Main Street chapbook author Richard Allen Tyler, along with the work of 28 poets and a half-dozen fiction writers. The work of four photographers rounds out the issue. I liked, in particular, “A Pike’s Peak Spring” from M. Scott Douglass, clouds and snow gathered on and around railroad tracks captured at a moment of altering textures, depicted expertly in the photograph.
  • Issue Number Volume 47 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The admirable literary venture that is The Massachusetts Review will soon celebrate its fiftieth anniversary.
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Make has gone the route of Opium and Swink—championing shorter material and a more relaxed design style. For this, their international issue, they also include “sister city” book reports; Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code tops the list in both Jordan and Israel. Athens, Greece, appears to have far better taste— three Orhank Pamouk novels make its top six. Osaka, Japan appears consumed with captivating nonfiction titles like The Dangers of Induction Heating Cooking-wareElectromagnetic Waves Could be the next Asbestos. A diatribe about the anti-gay culture of Poland follows. Occasionally this lackadaisical style grows tiresome; an “interview” with poet Gabriel Levinson allows exchanges like, Q: “What is memory?” A: “My best friend. My worst enemy.” to be less the exception than the rule.
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Issue 10th Anniversary Spe Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This attractive publication, an eclectic collection of fiction, essays, interviews, book reviews, and poetry, has—without the backing of a college or university—flourished for ten years under its original editor—quite an accomplishment.
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  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Curiosity got the better of me. Once I’d read the title, “Je Suis un Ananas” (I am a Pineapple) in the TOC, I had to turn to Libby Cudmore’s essay right away. I got doubly rewarded for my impatience. First, with Cudmore’s short, insightful response to “new media” (YouTube, Facebook) efforts to encourage a revisionist approach to childhood memories; and then by Colleen Pilgrim’s exquisite black and white photo, “Bog Trail,” which I had not expected on the facing page. The quality of Pilgrim’s photo sent me straight back to the TOC to look for other photos, and I was happy to find another of Pilgrim’s photo, and stunning images by Patrick Mog and Robert McGovern.
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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Monkeybicycle’s cover for this issue seduced me with its sleek matte finish of an image of red smoke over a white background. It was a pleasure to just hold the journal, and I couldn’t wait to see under the covers. The interior layout is conventional but easy to read, and I’m very thankful the editors didn’t try to do something fancy with the table of contents; they keep it simple and clean. The real beauty of this issue isn’t the cover or the layout, though. It’s in the stories and poems.
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Only on its fourth issue, Moonshot is a relatively new kid on the block in Brooklyn’s indie literary scene. Eighty-five pages long, the themed issue “Correspondences” offers brief introductions to 30 authors—all of whom have been published before, but don’t yet have major name recognition. As alluded to in the editor’s note, this issue is gritty and real.
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  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Normally, I like to review journals that I’ve never heard of. I love discovering new or less-acknowledged publications, mining foreign territory for literary gold. I try to stay as open as possible to new writers and new journals, and while what I find isn’t always great, it’s something unexpected every time.
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  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This is a progressive journal that understands the advantages of being online, and offers the reader a number of options that are simply not available in the print format. In the past they have presented an animated version of "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, a live reading of the same story by Vincent Price, various live comedies by different comedians, artwork by Dali, Goya, and El Greco, and even a Flamenco dance. One never knows what they are going to present each month, but that’s part of the fun.
  • Issue Number Number 163
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Hard as it would be to do, if I were pressed to name my top two or three favorite literary journals, I’d have to include The Malahat Review, which never fails to satisfy.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Before reading The Mom Egg, one might question why, if thousands of successful contemporary writers are also mothers, do we need an annual literary publication which “publishes work by mothers about everything, and by everyone about mothers and motherhood.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 53 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
There’s something faintly whimsical about this issue of The Massachusetts Review. Maybe it’s in the tone of “Bad Meditator,” a poem by Doug Anderson whose list of distractions isn’t a complaint but rather a love letter to all the occupants of Monkey Mind:
Because The Missouri Review has such a strong tradition of excellence, it is used by many of my friends as a sort of literary bellwether, a steady source of reading pleasure over the years.
  • Issue Number Crime Issue Number 6
  • Published Date Fall 2003
The staff of Midnight Mind Magazine must have a great time at work.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Mythium is a journal that publishes poems, fiction, and nonfiction written by writers of color. Its mission is to celebrate the cultural voice. The content is as varied as there are ethnicities. From African American and Native American writers with violent and unjust ancestral histories, to more recent immigrants of Latin, Asian, and African heritage (and then some) looking to find a place in a new America, it’s natural to assume that this magazine is a collection of many voices and many stories. Some of the material is depressing. Some is hopeful. All of it is interesting.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Over the years, the publication calendar for Many Mountains Moving has seemed erratic and unpredictable, at best, yet it’s always worth waiting for. This issue features a special section of “ecopoetry,” with selections by two-dozen poets, followed by an “ecopiety essay”; the magazine’s flash fiction and poetry winners, runners up, and finalists from 2008 and 2009; 9 short stories; four nonfiction contributions; “mixed genre” work (flash fiction/prose poems) by two contributors; and a general section of poetry with the work of another dozen and a half poets, including several selections from Henry Israeli and Shpresa Qatipi’s recent book of very fine translations of the work of Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku; and one review.
  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If one looked for themes in this splendid and beautifully presented collection, it would have to be drug addiction, past or present, in each of the four fictions: "The Yoshi Compound: A Story of Post-Waco Texas," is a delightful satire of phony spirituality by Todd James Pierce; Rebecca Rasmussen's "Partway," is a terrific story of a drug addict's daughter and the people who love her; "The Girl Who Drank Lye" by Colleen Curran traces the shocking decline of an ostracized fourteen-year-old picking up bad habits when befriended by the class bad girl. Jason Ockert’s "Piebald" tells the story of a father dying of some strange malady while mourning the death of his son, but, of course, it's more complicated than that.
  • Issue Number Volume 46 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This rewarding collection of essays, poems, and fiction avoids direct confrontation with current concerns—war, poverty, ecology—in favor of a Jewish boy's memoir of 1938 Berlin and Vienna and Bertolt Brecht’s poem on WWII propaganda. From Brecht’s "The Government as Artist": "It is well known that an artist can be stupid and yet / be a great artist. In this way, too / the government resembles the artist. As one says of Rembrandt / that he couldn't have painted any differently if he had been born without hands, / so it can be said of the government that it couldn't govern any differently / if it had been born without a head."
  • Issue Number Volume 48 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Massachusetts Review is truly a quarterly of literature, the arts, and public affairs as evidenced by this issue's rewarding stories, poems, and essays. "Fear and Torment in El Salvador" by Noel Valis provides a comprehensive overview of El Salvadorian terrorism and opposes Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments and Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain, the Making and Unmaking of the World. Valis reminds us of the early 80's writings of Carolyn Forche, especially her unforgettable prose poem "The Colonel," and of Joan Didion's Salvador ("Terror," she says, "is the given of the place."). Also mentioned is Robert Stone's film Salvador, as well as the work of others who have explored the moral hell of torture, which Valis, although conceding that it is born in the imagination, posits imagination as the site of its demise.
  • Subtitle The Valley Review
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 2
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Meat for Tea is a quirky little journal from western Massachusetts that showcases fiction, poetry, and art of eclectic taste. Themes jump around from absurd, realistic, and even to a small taste of science fiction in a blend that is peculiar yet satisfying, like bacon in earl gray or pork in green tea. You get the idea.
  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Produced at Illinois State University, Normal, with the support of UC San Diego and the College of Fine Arts at University of Texas, Austin, Mandorla is a truly unique and exceptional publication that deserves a spot on the shelves of our country’s finest libraries and literary collections. It is a beautifully edited and produced volume of poetry and “poetic essays” in Spanish and English, the work of editors who clearly understand quality when it comes both to content and product (a fantastic cover; fine paper; professional, polished appearance; smart, appropriate and refined design).
  • Issue Number Volume 24 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
I have long been a fan of this dependable journal. I like knowing what I’m reading (“poetry,” “fiction,” “creative non-fiction,” “essay,” and “art”).
  • Subtitle The American Journal of Poetry
  • Issue Number Volume 4
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Margie’s slogan is “strong medicine.” If you’re looking for a shot of poetry, this is the place. In this fat volume you’ll find over 400 pages of poetry by over 100 poets.
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  • Issue Number Volume 50 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The dignified beauty of the vast Great Lakes region is often outshone by the bright lights of Broadway and the high-wattage glow of Hollywood. This issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review, subtitled “Love Song and Lament,” contains poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction that will immerse the reader in the quiet dignity of the area and the people who call it home.
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2004
Knock-knock.
Because nothing ruins art like an admirable cause, I was initially wary of Mizna, “a forum promoting Arab American culture that values diversity in the Arab community.
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Main Street Rag publishes simple, solid, conversational writing without gimmicks. The layout has rather cramped pages and fuzzy artwork, but this can be overlooked.
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  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Mid-American Review’s most recent volume seems to catch the reader in that moment between sleeping and waking, grieving and surviving, forgetting and knowing. A dream-like quality pervades the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry chosen by its editors, who claim to be “on the lookout for work that has the power to move and astonish us while displaying the highest level of craft.” Faculty and Masters students from Bowling Green State University’s MFA program in Ohio weave together each piece to create a state of reverie from the very first pages.
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  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
A short story, a piece of flash fiction, and the winners of the magazine’s 16th National Poet Hunt are the cream of the crop in this issue of The MacGuffin, which comes out three times a year at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan.
This substantially-sized, yearly MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry encompasses a wide range of subject matter and styles, from experimental to traditional.
  • Issue Number Volume 43 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2004
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Michigan Quarterly Review always features interesting essays, and this issue is no exception; my favorite was George Watson’s essay, “The Cosmic Comic,” on the life and writing motivations of Douglas Adams. Two new poems by Adrienne Rich appear here as well, and the rest of the (sadly, very few) poems are excellent, including Donovan Hohn’s “Ars Poetica” and Charles Harper Webb’s “My Wife Insists That, On Our First Date, I Told Her I Had Seven Kinds of Hair.” A few lines from that poem:
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  • Issue Number Issue 18
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle online
Lisa Williams’s “Becoming Again a Threshold” captures a feeling of being stretched over a decision, over time, over space—a sense I get from the poetry in this issue:
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date July 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Nothing more deliciously speaks for this issue of Mixed Fruit than Anne Barngrover’s poem “The Closest I Mean to I Lust You.” Tantalizingly fresh in language and sound, Barngrover uses food to express the narrator’s lust:
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  • Issue Number Volume 9
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’ve taught creative nonfiction writing many semesters, but I had never seen Memoir before this issue. Had never heard of Jacqueline May, whose “But All Can Be Endured Because . . .” is so perfectly satisfying a story about ordinary family and miraculous marriage, I think it must be fiction. Or Cindy Clem, who writes the flip side of May’s coin in words so beautifully measured—“My Husband Clive” is the title, but the first line is “Clive is not my husband”—I’m actually grateful not everyone’s relationship is terrific. Or poet Dianne Bilyak (“Reparation,” and “How He Described Her”), whose tone drops over youthful wounds a lightness that makes me smile. How could I have taught creative nonfiction (CNF) and not known these?
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  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
The Meadowland Review, not listing very much insight into the journal on their website, is a magazine whose aesthetic must be learned by exploring and reading the magazine for oneself. Notifying only the genres they list and that they accept established and emerging writers, The Meadowland Review leaves a lot to discover.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
In its first run, Middle Gray Magazine is providing a venue to display artists’ and writers’ works. The layout creates a collaboration between pieces and relies on the artwork to influence the mood of the entire journal. It succeeds in giving each artist his or her space with a longer bio and description of the work where appropriate. It’s a small collection of surprising and exciting work.
  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

Modern Haiku received 308 entries from 79 poets in 5 countries for its 2009 Spiess Contest! Haiku (and senryu, essentially haiku with human images, rather than images drawn exclusively from nature) appears to be as popular as ever.

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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Something every day—gettin up, goin to school
No need for me to complain—my objections overruled, ahh!
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in!
Chuck Berry
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  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Arguably, there is a line between humanity and the supernatural. There is the world as we know it and there is that which is otherworldly. The latter may be interpreted as: God (in all his/her/its forms); Death; the Spirit; Magic. Regardless of what we choose to call it, our fascination with it is and always will be present. In the latest issue of the Mid-American Review, we see the line crossed and re-crossed. We see it buried in dust, painted over with vibrant colors, twisted, stretched, formed into something more like a circle, or a knot. Almost every piece acknowledges, to some degree or another, forces beyond character control.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2010-11
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Fall/Winter 2010-11 issue of MAKE is dedicated to the spirit of play. And the work presented within is most definitely playful – both in its layout and its content. But don’t assume that because its framework is built around play that it must also be somehow unsophisticated or impetuous. As the editors point out at the start, “the seemingly lighthearted subthemes are all tempered by profound solemnity.” MAKE explores the youthful pastime of play, but in the end offers up very grown-up compilation of literary work.
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  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring-Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Here are three fiction writers to watch out for. They all set up confrontations of one sort or another on which their stories turn, and they’re all in the latest issue of The MacGuffin.
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
Go to The Monongahela Review’s website, and you won’t find out much about the journal by just browsing. Without much information or submission guidelines, you really have to read the journal to get to know it. Download the PDF or open it in Issuu, and get cozy.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Mead aims to make the magazine “small and explosive, writing we would want to read while waiting at the bar for our lover. Writing that is fermented, burnt, makes some kind of penance, offering, or sacrifice. Has breakage, but tooth. Writing with ropes, legs, residue. Writing that leaves ashes.” There are five sections—beer, wines, cocktails, pure spirits, and sparkling—in which the editor categorizes the pieces to be published. In this review, I choose to select my favorite for each of the drinks.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Another new magazine, Map Literary “is dedicated to celebrating quality works of new literature. Rather than aligning with any one aesthetic, we aspire to promote the finest provocative writing of our time.”
  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2004
Entitled “Politics & Religion,” this issue of the Mississippi Review might just as aptly be named the “Stand on the Rooftop and Shout Yes, Yes, Yes!” issue.
  • Subtitle Prose Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America
  • Issue Number Volume 7 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Mizna, “the country’s first Arab American lit journal,” includes poems, cartoons, fiction, non-fiction, a play and art work.
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 3
  • Published Date Winter 2005
  • Publication Cycle annual
I know that The Missouri Review changed its look and feel some time ago, so this may be old news to some of you—but The Missouri Review is bigger, more graphic, and strangely personality centered—large bios appear next to the work, complete with author photos, each on its own page—and beginning pages of stories start with shouting, inch-high fonts.
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
One of the many pleasing things about this issue of The Missouri Review is the design of the magazine, easy to hold in the hands, with a neutrally-colored cover and larger-than-usual font. Easy on the eyes, gentle and pleasant.
  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I selected this attractive volume for its beautiful cover—aware of literary potential, of course, as Mississippi Review is one of the better-known journals—and opened it to find a masthead identified as "Actualization" and a collection of "prose poems."
  • Issue Number Volume 48 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of The Midwest Quarterly offers a broad selection of essays, beginning with Mark Glouberman’s “The Birth of Death in Athens and Jerusalem,” a comparison of death and origins in Homer’s Iliad and the book of Genesis.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date January 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Driving on an Oakland freeway not long ago, a recent Iowa MFA graduate defined contemporary poetry as something that was less of a craft, than a handicraft: after adamantly denying my knowledge of the various journals where she had published, she described a world of self-made chapbooks distributed solely among “friends.” There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this, until one remembers that she and her “friends” have been granted inroads into the poetic establishment, its scarce jobs and grant monies.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Meena is a literary journal that prints all contributions in both English and Arabic. This second installment of the journal focuses specifically on Hurricane Katrina, the ramifications of rising floodwaters, and related global political-environmental concerns. Its prose elements include a discussion on the anthropological significance of famous bodies of water (the Ganges as bringer of tranquility to the dying, the Volga as a “strong citadel in the face of invaders,” are only the two most obvious metaphors referenced). Through reading these, we learn that the allocation of the Nile River resources has become a major component of the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially after Sadat’s plan to enrich Sinai with an irrigation channel was stunted by Ethiopian resistance. It is now suggested that Israel’s impending water crisis – which already leads to enormous imbalances in usage – may furnish grounds for another war. A brief socioeconomic history of the now-notorious 9th Ward, and a speculative history of the death of Atlantis that’s really about New Orleans, aren’t far behind.
  • Issue Number Volume 42 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2003
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
"The trouble with September is, it's nothing / you can put your finger on…" – Deborah Warren's poem "From August to Autumn," which captures brilliantly the precise season in which we find ourselves, is a peak moment in an issue of peak moments.
  • Issue Number Issue 14
  • Published Date Fall 2004
After a string of elaborately presented thematic issues, McSweeney’s returns with a back-to-basics issue.
This special issue is dedicated to, as the cover states, Food Matters.
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter-Spring 2005
Modern Haiku is everything its name would suggest: a magazine devoted to traditional Japanese poetic forms, but with a modern approach.
  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The new Monkeybicycle is a beautiful book to hold and admire. Weighty, a neo-Rothko cover design, that new book smell. The inside is even better. A strong lineup of edgy stories and poems. Devoting its pages to mostly prose, the selections range from flash fiction to medium length and longer short stories. What other magazine throws together hard realism with the surreal, magical realism and science fiction? Editor Steven Seighman has put together something for everyone and it is refreshing after a glut of theme-issues has dominated literary journals for some years.
  • Issue Number Volume 10 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This publication contains “prose, poetry, and art exploring Arab American.” Mizna the organization is dedicated to supporting Arab-American culture and giving is expression. “Mizna” the word means “the cloud of the desert.” In a desert, a cloud is good, cooling, giving comfort to those who pass through – a big difference maker. This publication is short – about eighty pages, but packs a wallop.
  • Issue Number Issue 23
  • Published Date May 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
A meridian stretches between poles, an apt way to describe the fascinating extremes between the pieces in this issue of the magazine – from the “Lost Classic” feature, a letter sent in reply from Katherine Anne Porter to book designer Merle Armitage (“It is not in the least difficult for me to standby what I love and believe in”) to an e-mail interview by Paul Legault with poet Tao Lin (“I want my next book to be ‘iconic’ it can’t suck”). From Lynn Pott’s poem “Barely Ask” (“When you get old do your lips shrink, do you know?”) to Angus A. Bennett’s “Muted with a Line from Someone Else’s Memory” (“and the joy of a midnight as meaningless things / as we do meaningless things – a placemarker for desire”).
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
With The Missouri Review now accepting e-mail submissions, who can say what masterpieces will now arrive; although this issue seems to have been assembled without that benefit, it is an intriguing collection. In addition to slaking my thirst for good fiction – stories by Jacob M. Appel, Erica Johnson Debeljak, Rachel Swearingen, and others – the contents include essays, poetry, and an interview with the disarmingly honest David Sedaris: "I'm not apolitical; I just don't consider myself an original thinker, [. . .] I'm more the kind of person who might read something and then try to pass it off as my own."
  • Issue Number Volume 23 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
It devours you, it challenges you. The fiction in The MacGuffin has muscle. The poetry can take you places in a few simple stanzas, with no visible effort. Such craftsmanship is hard to come by.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Along with the expected personal and family stories in prose, “memoir” in this issue includes the journal’s Best Graphic Memoir pick, “The Rejection Collection: A Visual Poem,” by Corey Ginsberg, a clever composition created of a series of photos of phrases from rejection letters received and the author’s musings about these hurtful strips of paper and their disappointing news: “How was it that my standard, hour-long wait in line at the Miami Post Office, enclosed $20 reading fee and eight months spent floating in ‘status of my submission’ Limbo didn’t even afford me an entire sheet of paper when I was rejected?” In the end Ginsberg’s rejection collage project seems to have been more encouraging than discouraging, as expressed both in the piece and in the lengthy “About” notes (a convention the journal uses for pieces with visual content). In any case, it turned into an acceptance!
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
While the title may give the impression of wide open spaces, this publication is anything but in its content. A mere 87 pages is packed with over 30 contributors of artwork, poetry, prose (fiction/non-fiction? can’t always tell), and an interview with Ellen Hopkins (author of the poetry novel Crank). The authorship range is varied, with contributions coming from Truckee Meadows Community College students to such well knowns as Suzanne Roberts and Lyn Lifshin (“I Remember Haifa Being Lovely But” reprint). Part of the Hopkins’s interview focuses on the Ash Canyon Poets, some of whose work is featured. Hopkins agrees with the interviewer that the poets’ focus on place is “fed mostly by this stunning place where we live.”
  • Issue Number Volume 12
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Mandorla subtitles itself “New Writings from the Americas” and also identifies itself in Spanish as: “Nueva Escritura de las Américas.” The magazine is a bilingual collection of essays, poetry, short stories, and excerpts published mostly in untranslated English and Spanish. If you are uncomfortable with the conventions of Spanish-language literature, the fast switches from one style to another may require you to adjust your expectations. You’ll need to embrace some confusion.
  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date 2005
From the web site: "Matter is a unique biannual publication of literature, poetry, photography, visual art and just about anything that is made of matter."
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2005
Alice would love Mad Hatters' Review—as I do—there's something, including the astral threats of summer, to delight everyone.
  • Issue Number Issue 17
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The always excellent Stephen Dixon leads off the seventeenth issue of Meridian with “Going Back,” the story of Meyer, a writer who gets his best ideas for stories right after he’s had sex with his wife.
  • Issue Number Volume 19 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This volume of Manoa, edited by Frank Stewart and Barry Lopez, is dedicated to the theme Maps of Reconciliation: Literature and the Ethical Imagination. This journal includes many types of work: oratory, essays, poetry, fiction, photographic essays, an interview, and even a play. It’s uncommon to see a journal include all of these genres, and the Table of Contents divides them by genre, so it’s easy to navigate.
  • Issue Number Volume 46 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2005/2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Dark, dark, dark is much of the work in this issue, starting with the feature on artist Christin Couture, against whose eerie paintings the rest of the magazine's contents seems to echo.
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  • Issue Number Volume 52 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Published at the University of Michigan, The Michigan Quarterly Review is an attractive journal. At roughly 150 pages, it is fairly slim, with a vibrant glossy cover. More importantly, what’s inside is also interesting: an attractive mix of the creative and academic essays alongside fiction and poetry.
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“Not reading books is escapism,” insists editor in chief, Troy Ehlers. Reading is an “engagement,” a chance to “contemplate and process.” Minnetonka Review offers eight short stories, the work of two nonfiction writers, and poems from close to two dozen poets to help us think about how we relate to the world, including a section of Editor’s Prize winners with poetry by Rhonda C. Poynter and prose by Tim Keppel.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue features 7 short stories, four works of nonfiction, and poems by a dozen and a half poets. Best-known writers in the TOC are poets Philip Dacey, Simon Perchik, and Mary Crow. Art Director Keith Demanche contributes a number of captivating black and white photographs of Minnesota nature scenes. They capture with uncanny accuracy the grandeur and drama of the landscape with its massive skies and showy weather.
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  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The Meadow is an annual published at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada with an editorial staff of faculty, an awards program, and a predilection for personal story and narrative-driven writing. The work of two veteran and gifted writers, Adrian C. Louis and Mark Terrill, and accomplished photographer Dana Oldfather, is accompanied by much student writing, including poems, personal essays, and artwork.
  • Issue Number Volume 15
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
“Art & Poetry” reads the cover of Mudfish 15, with an impressionistic watercolor of a man treading water in a swimming pool; on the back is a watercolor of trees, a blue mountain, purple fields, a pink sky, all conveyed beautifully by Paul Wuenshe with a few deft brush strokes. Also deft are the poems inside, which can be as short as three lines, or a paragraph or two; many contained in a single page, some several pages.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
To launch their inaugural issue of Memoir, a literary magazine devoted to prose, poetry, graphics, and more, the co-editors, Joan E. Chapman and Candida Lawrence, write competing columns on the definition of memoir. Chapman brings a postmodern reading lens to the genre, delighting in the shifting self and the instability of memory, while Lawrence focuses on a good story carried by a strong voice. Taken together their viewpoints create a solid definition of the complex genre and provide the perfect starting point for a magazine devoted solely to memoir in all its forms.
  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In these days when literary journals have mainly free verse poetry, Measure: An Annual Review of Formal Poetry is a refreshing contrast. This second issue contains over two hundred pages of formal poems, from Catullus and Horace to Seamus Heaney and Richard Wilbur, as well as many lesser-known poets.
  • Issue Number Volume 22 Issue 6
  • Published Date July 2008
A fun, quirky look. Editor and publisher Didi Menendez calls this issue “a carousel of poetry, short stories, and recipes.” The carousel image is an extension of the magazine’s cover, a full-bleed photograph of a woman clearly enjoying her ride on a beautiful merry-go-round. MiPOesias is as colorful and bold as a carousel with its full-color half and full page author photos; blue, teal, lime, evergreen, pink, brown, yellow, and tan page borders; large sans serif fonts and reverse type; and recipes, complete with color photos of pasta, muffins, Cuban meatloaf, and breaded catfish. If there is a relationship between the poems and stories and the recipes, it escapes me, although the recipes were provided by writers (though not by writers whose work appears in this issue of the magazine).
  • Issue Number Volume 14 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2008/2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I sit down to read and suddenly I have company. There are a few dozen people I’ve never met in my living room telling me how they do their work (interviews with Cathy Smith Bowers and Robert Boisvert); who they are; what they think; and entertaining me with stories. I even know where they are from (which is listed with their names at the top of the page). Their voices are casual, direct, unadorned. Some angry, some wistful, some yearning. It’s almost as if I can feel them tugging at my elbow for my attention.
  • Issue Number Volume 49 Number 4
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Midwest Quarterly (“a journal of contemporary thought”) is an unpretentious academic review that also includes a selection of poetry. This issue’s articles are scholarly, but quite readable, not overly burdened with jargon or theoretical constructs that try one’s patience, as so much overly formal academic writing tends to do.
  • Issue Number Volume 47 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
You know you’re in store for quality fiction and poetry when you pick up a copy of Michigan Quarterly Review. Jane Gillette’s wonderful story “Divine Afflatus” combines two seemingly disparate narratives – one featuring a poetry professor who continues to mourn the loss of his son, and a modern-day housewife who has too much time on her hands. The two narratives merge in a climactic moment for both characters. Equally good was John Allman’s story, “Waiting for Z,” in which the protagonist waits for his wife to come back from a whirlwind trip around the world. Both stories are exemplars of realistic narrative fiction at its best.
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