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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted August 19, 2009

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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
A promising premier beginning with fascinating cover art – a “threadwork portfolio” by Lisa Solomon whose threadwork images appear throughout the journal – Marvin Bell’s moving “dedication poem” (“The Book of the Dead Man (Arroyo)”) featuring Bell’s signature anaphoric lines; a terrific interview with novelist Eric Miles Williamson, a graduate of the California State University system where Arroyo is published; five strong stories; and contributions from ten poets, including more work by Bell.
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  • Issue Number Issue 83
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I have always loved Brick, a handsome, polished, semi-annual from Toronto. The journal typically features some of the finest, and most influential, writers and from across the Americas and around the world (this issue’s stars include Michael Ondaatje, Eduardo Galeano, Edmund White, Dionne Brand, Francisco Goldman, Jim Harrison, Jack Spicer, and Juan Cruz for example); what I’d call “pure and original finds” (a brief essay on Harold Pinter by acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema, along with a marvelous photo of her and Pinter; and the posthumously published “Three Wishes” by Pannonica de Koenigswarter, fascinating black and white photos of and fragments from bebop and jazz musicians); and terrific graphics (some great photos in this issue).
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  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
This literary review was founded in 2004 and offers literary reviews, author interviews, essays, and publishing news. They also present articles on a variety of topics including art, science, politics, and history. Basically, there is something here for almost everyone. Below are a few juicy tidbits to be sampled in their pages:
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This summer’s edition to Canteen’s canon is filled to the brim with amusing essays, thought-provoking poems, and a couple of fictional, yet introspective short stories. One such story is Justin Taylor’s “In My Heart I Am Already Gone.” Its protagonist, Kyle, is a cousin of some sort to the family with whom he spends Wednesday nights. His Uncle Danny, in referring to his medically sound, but mentally unhinged cat, says: “This was a long time coming.” He is, of course, talking of rubbing out, or knocking off, the poor, poor Buckles. Danny has asked Kyle to ‘take care of it’. Kyle, as naturally as Holden Caulfield without the sarcasm might, muses that
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  • Issue Number Number 75
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The reader is welcomed to this issue of Crazyhorse with the editor’s modest reminder of the stories and poems published by the journal that were selected for the Best American Series, including the Poetry, Short Stories and Nonrequired Reading volumes.
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  • Issue Number Issue 71
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
If you love a good story – and who doesn’t? – you must read Glimmer Train. It never, and I do mean never, disappoints. This issue includes exquisite stories by Carmiel Banaksy, Hubert Ahn, Cynthia Gregory, Johnny Townsen, Marc Basch (first time in print!), Lindsey Crittenden, Diana Spechler, Scott Schrader, Mary Morrissy, and Kuyangyan Huang, as well as a critical essay by Sara Whyatt on the theater of Raisedon Baya and Chris Mlalazi, and an interview with David Leavitt, conducted by Kevin Rabalais.
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  • Issue Number Volume 7 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Wow! The only thing that would do this astoundingly exciting issue justice is to write a transgenre review. What would that look or sound like? It could be structured as dictionary entries like Jim Elledge’s “Mercy,” “Quarantine,” and “Xyloid.” Or perhaps an eight-page piece broken into segments of single phrases and sentences of no more than three text-lines each, alternating between font styles (regular and bold, serif and sans serif, different point sizes) like Lance Olsen’s “Head of Flames,” which begins: “Look: I am standing inside the color yellow.” (If only my review could have an opening this simultaneously luxurious and spare.)
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  • Issue Number Number 25
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published by Manhattanville College (Purchase, NY), this issue of Inkwell contains stories and poems that the editor has chosen because they “help us embrace new worlds.” Most of the works indeed strive toward character-based abstraction. The fiction, thankfully, remains grounded in concrete narrative.
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  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date Winter 2008/2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Okay, I’ll admit it: I had no idea what ‘juked’ meant. So I consulted my trusty OED, only to find that the word is a football term: sort of. It means, in essence, to fake someone out; pull them offside (this is where the football thing comes in). At any rate, I found that the stories and poems contained within Juked’s pages are, in fact, of the sort that employ a bit of skullduggery.
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  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This is, by far, the most diverse literary magazine I’ve ever encountered. On the Labletter’s introductory pages are art images, followed by fiction, photography, a feature on an improvisational acting company, which includes a scene from their improv play based on Greek tragedy. Finally, under a heading as broad as Gallery, there are photos, art of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional sort, more fiction, and a few poems. That the magazine comes with an equally diverse CD is as astonishing as reading the print edition is.
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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
spare and quiet
308 hopeful
explosions of meaning
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  • Issue Number Volume 52 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Nimrod is a journal that has a long tradition of publishing the finest works to come out of the contemporary Mexico scene. Following that custom is the Spring/Summer 2009 issue, the third issue in Nimrod’s history to be devoted to Mexican writers. This issue is difficult to discuss succinctly – the writers are numerous (well over 50 contributors are included here) and their work is enormous (everything from borders to migration to the meaning of change is covered) – but let’s give it the old college try.
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This “international/translation issue” features the work of poets from Bangladesh, Sweden, India, Cyprus, Scotland, France, London, Greece, the Philippines, Switzerland, Turkey, South Africa, Scotland, Italy, Germany, Canada, and the United States (most of these are poems with an “international” component of some kind). As several poems appear in languages other than English with English translations and translators’ credits, my assumption is that the others – no matter their country of origin – were written in English. (An editor’s note would help readers know for certain when they are reading originals and when they are reading translations.) Many of the contributors are natives of one country, but residents of another. The issue presents a laudable compendium of international writers, many of whose work is otherwise unavailable to readers in the States. The editorial vision is generous and eclectic, allowing for work that encompasses a variety of poetic styles, modes, and themes; most of the translations are polished, competent, and fluid.
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  • Issue Number Numbers 64 & 65
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This double issue of the journal begins with an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, titled simply “The Poet,” the magazine’s “Past Masters” feature. And Emerson begins with a definition of those who are “esteemed umpires of taste”: “often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever is elegant; but if you inquire whether or not they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual.” First, I am struck by the lovely internal rhymes (acquired, admired, inquire). Then I am simply worried that reviewers are self-proclaimed “umpires of taste.” Finally, I am convinced that the “beautiful souls” are the poets who have contributed to Poetry East where, for the most part, the poems are “personal,” heartfelt, earnest, sincere, and, for lack of a better term, accessible (as in approachable, read with apparent ease).
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In more than a decade of writing reviews, I don’t think I have ever said this before – read this journal for the editorial remarks. I’m serious. Here’s editor Sean Bernard in an interview with poet Neil Aitken, winner of the 2008 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry: “How does being Canadian (ed. Note: Neil is Canadian) give you a poetic advantage compared to being a wine swilling urban American?” Oh, did I mention that his interview with Aitken is one of the best magazine interviews I’ve read in a long time, maybe ever? Here are the editor’s comments preceding an excerpt from a novel-in-progress: “This is an episode from a novel-in-progress and it is fairly self-contained: Prism readers will be reassured to learn that the boy survives.” Here is the editor responding to Aitken after a particularly fascinating and unusual answer to one of his questions: “I don’t believe that for a minute.” Here is the editor from the notes that precede the “Canon Interview,” an imaginary conversation with a dead author (Jane Austen this issue): “On a recent full moon night, we were driving our editorial van through the Inland Empire.” Our editorial van!
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This is a delightful combination of poetry and short fiction, both in English, and in such languages as Urdu and Portuguese, with English translations on the faced pages. This is a wonderful device, and I found it to be irresistible. Seeing literature in its original form only enhances the translations of it. Could I, I wondered, learn a bit of Urdu this way? Only time will tell on that one, but it’s high time that Quiddity gets a shout-out from the review community.
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  • Issue Number Volume 45 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In the Artist’s Statement that precedes her lithographs, etchings, and acrylic and charcoal drawings, Bosnian immigrant Tanja Softi? writes: “The visual vocabulary of my drawings and paintings suggests a displaced existence: fragmented memories, adaptation, revival, and transformation…I have the arguable privilege of having lived more than one life.” This issue of The Southern Review, a particularly fine one, seems to offer every reader a version of this same opportunity to step, briefly, but deeply into another’s life, and to watch words and lives revived and transformed. Not necessarily changed, or improved, or repaired, but altered by their evolution as artistic artifacts and by our encounter with them,
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date April 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This website is rather spare and the editors don’t tell much about the magazine. Its first issue was apparently in December 2008, and as of this writing the summer issue has not yet appeared. Based on a paucity of information, they are based in Montana “featuring writers and artists from all over the world.” The present issue gives a healthy presentation of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and “reviews and interviews.”
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  • Issue Number Number 3
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Zoland Poetry is an annual review of poems, translations, and interviews edited by Roland Pease, editor of Zoland Books. In the journal, as well as at the press, Pease favors work with unusual voices and bold, unconventional imagery. These poems tend to provoke, probe, unsettle, and question. There are no cookie-cutter occasional pieces here; no easy slogans; no casual-chats turned verse; and no small contented moments in the park. At the same time, there are no dense, obscure poems intended to baffle, rather than elucidate. All of which is to say that this issue is exciting, original, and a true contribution to the reading scene.
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