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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted March 21, 2009

20x20 is a new London-based magazine of “visions” (black and white photographs and drawings), “words” (prose and poetry), and “blenders” (hybrid compositions of graphics and text). A note at the end of one contributor’s piece, “Deconstruction of a Failure,” sums up nicely the inaugural issue’s editorial slant. Kiril Bozhinov writes:
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 1
  • Published Date February 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
With the presentation of this volume, Amarillo Bay is celebrating its eleventh year of existence, certainly a notable accomplishment, and welcomes the reader to browse its archives which contain over four hundred works. The latest edition has four short stories, one piece of nonfiction, and six poems to choose from.
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  • Issue Number Number 155
  • Published Date Autumn 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue includes the Great Blue Heron poetry and Sheldon Currie fiction first, second, and third prize contest winners, poems from an additional 20 poets, three short stories, short book reviews, a review essay, and what is classified as an “article,” an “academic” style analysis of poet Anne Compton’s award-winning poetry book Processional. Solid and satisfying reading from cover to cover.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date January/February 2009
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Boston Review essays tend to follow a somewhat predictable pattern, and I couldn’t be happier about it. A serious, well-informed, literate, critical mind challenges the conventional wisdom about a controversial and highly politicized subject or issue of undeniable significance and urgency. Here are the two opposing views we commonly hear and debate, the writer begins, but there is something wrong with each of them, and I want to offer an alternative, he concludes. Subjects covered in the current issue of the Review include the “post-racial” in the Obama era (Stephen Ansolabehere and Charles Stewart III); free market regulation (Dean Baker, Robert Pollin); tax cuts (Jeff Madrick); Guantanamo (David Cole); Afghanistan (Barnett R. Rubin); Iran (Abbas Milani); and new (old?) philosophical approaches to God (Alex Byrne).
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  • Issue Number Volume 61 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The “translation issue” begins with a tribute to the late Hayden Carruth (1921-2008) by poet David Mason, which concludes: “I wish to remember . . . an understanding of what is centrally important in life, what is truly marginal, and how poetry unites us more than it divides us, how language touches what we love, and how the love remains.” A beautiful tribute to a fine American poet, but also a fitting introduction for considering works in translation.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Isotope (literary nature and science writing) has made some attractive changes. Perfect binding, expanded contents, recycled paper (for nature and science writing!), pleasing coated paper that really shows off the artwork. This issue’s art portfolio (and the cover art, too) is stunning: impeccable reproductions of paintings by Deborah Banerjee, “The Edge of Sight: The JPL Paintings.” JPL stands for Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California where the painter lives. The tension between Banerjee’s still life oils and the concept and imagined vision of propulsion, the spacecrafts’ raison d’être, is both restrained and explosive. The relationship of spacecraft to space (background) is fascinating and entirely unique from painting to painting. The painter’s explanation/description of what she has attempted to do is as beautifully composed, and as interesting, as her paintings.
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  • 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.
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  • 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).
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  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Ninth Letter is part literary journal, part coffee-table book – the kind of coffee-table book you go back to again and again, admiring the gorgeous artwork and spectacularly designed pages each time with the same sense of awe, surprise, and delight. You’re proud to display it in your living room, you want to show it to everyone who visits. You find something new you’ve never seen before every time you look at it. It’s big, heavy, substantial, hard to hold, and harder to put down.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Only one issue into its run, The Normal School has an enviable hit/miss ratio to go along with the ambition behind the magazine’s creation. The fiction, poetry and nonfiction between the covers inspire the reader to question “their own motives, sense of place, or quantum mechanics and the boundaries of art.” In more plebian terms: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll remember the pieces long after you’re done.
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  • Issue Number Numbers 114 & 115
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Monthly
One Story subscribers – there are more than 3,000 – receive one “great short story” in the mail every three weeks or so. The story (as object) is a handy size, small enough to fit in a handbag or briefcase or knapsack. It has a simple cover, just the author and title, and a brief bio note and magazine contact info at the back. A clean design. Easy to read. Easy to keep or share. The story is complemented on-line with a Q&A with the author and a link to the one-story blog (I notice people rarely comment on the stories, although they do respond to the editors’ literary and publishing news and opinions).
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  • Published Date February 2009
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
This literary magazine likes to publish “quality, hard-hitting, raw, dark fiction, flash fiction, short stories, prose and poetry.” The online version comes out monthly and there is a print edition that is published annually in December. Archival and recent material is often intermingled.
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  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This is a fledgling literary journal published by Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, named after a river that runs through it. The fall issue features fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and essays. The editor, Dan Albergotti, quotes Robert Frost’s observation, “There is nothing as mysterious as something clearly seen,” and says Waccamaw is looking for “work that is at once clear and mysterious.”
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  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Table of Contents had me pretty excited: poems from John Yau, Molly Peacock, and Paul Muldoon (among many others); fiction from Steve Almond; a “conversation” between Alice Quinn and Adam Zagajewski. And the issue lives up to these names’ promise, but I was just as excited by the work of those whose names I did not immediately recognize: Suzanne Buffam, whose translation of Paul Eluard’s poem “Pour Vivre Ici” matches the original’s deceptive simplicity syllable for syllable (“Like the dead I had but one element”); a sardonic epistolary short story by Rudolph Delson, “An Open Letter to John E. Potter, Postmaster General,” comparing his Van Brunt postal station to the far superior Park Slope station; an amazing portfolio of black and white drawings, so different from each other it’s hard to believe they were done by the same artist, Andres Guzman, a recent graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design; and a lyric of taut little quatrains, “Sabina,” by Olivia Clark.
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