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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted October 19, 2009

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  • Issue Number Issue 14
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I have seen a lot of photographs of birds – who hasn’t? But, I have never seen one quite as striking as Ashley Sniezek’s “Sanctuary.” Both the photo and the impeccable reproduction are so sharply focused I feel as if the slender bird’s beak might reach out and peck me if I try to turn the page. But I must turn the page, because this photo is followed by an equally marvelous one, “In the Tomb of Ramose, Luxor, Egypt,” by Sue Lezon. Twelve photographers’ work is featured in this issue, including photos from national award winner Don Fike and student award winner K. Angeline Pittinger. These are some of the finest black and white photos I have encountered in a magazine, reproduced with such clarity they appear almost surreal.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The editors of The Ampersand take a firm editorial stance from the get-go: “Give us God, give us god, give us the gritty, oily humanity, & make us laugh. If you can make us cry, do so. If you want to lament the loss of pets or parents, do not.” On the chance you need someone to draw you a picture, they follow this up with a chart, “The Ampersand Flow.” The flow chart reminds writers they must be “good enough” to be included in the journal and warns if you write about puppies, your work is sure to be rejected.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This literary journal welcomes all genres: “We hope to provide a safe space for writers who’ve gone unappreciated because the industry has led them to believe they don’t fit some arbitrary format.” This latest issue is no exception, providing short stories, art, nonfiction, interviews, lyrics, poetry, a letter from the editor, a memorial – a little bit of everything.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Winter 2009
The poems at the center of Black Boot are often sweeping, elegiac narratives, told from the point of view of an apparently omniscient character or narrator who usually speaks in the first person or like they are writing sophisticated, honest diary entries. When you enter the bright lights of this journal, you will meet an amalgam of characters who, whether melancholy, happy or otherwise, are reflecting on something or someone integral to their past identities.
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  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This issue of Calyx is presented beautifully, and its premise has more beauty still. Composed, as they tell you, of women’s art and literature alone, it breathes a carefully balanced delicacy. Perhaps it is because I am a woman, but I found every piece within Calyx’s covers to be somehow special.
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  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This issue of Colorado Review includes many writers whose names are, deservedly, quite familiar, among them: Hadara Bar-Nadav, Peter Gizzi, Donald Morrill, Cole Swensen, There are many who have published widely and may soon be as well known as the others I’ve mentioned, among them: Andrew Joron, Stacy Kidd, Wayne Miller, Jacqueline Lyons, Ange Mlinko. And there are others with new books or books about to be published that I am eager to read, based on their contributions to this issue, among them: Robin Black,Ellen Wehle, Jennifer Moxley, Andrew Zawacki. What these writers share is an original eye and an original ear, which is to say, that in many ways, they are as different from each other as they could be.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date January 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Consequence is a new literary magazine focusing on the culture of war in the twenty-first century,” writes editor George Kovach. While this first issue includes some previously published work, future issues will feature new writing by “witnesses and survivors, soldiers, scholars and writers compelled to speak the truth about war.” The inaugural issue includes the work of fifteen poets, an essay, two interviews (one with poet Brian Turner and one with “an Army wife and mother”), a memoir, and three visual artists, one of whom, Viet Le, also contributes several poems.
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  • Issue Number Number 240
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Summer edition of The Fiddlehead was a great read. It’s filled with short stories and reviews, strictly speaking. I found myself at turns sad, scared, and empathetic. Still, I was perfectly calmed by the reading of all this pathos and dark energy. It’s almost as though I saw a bit of myself in each of these stories. In the Editor’s note, “Dark Was the Night, Bright Was the Diamond,” Mark Anthony Jarman writes that the reader will find, “stories moving through the stone lands of Ireland, France, and Spain, stories in cottage country, punk clubs, and on Napoleon’s Italian campaign,” and comments that the short story format has gotten short shrift these days, if the media are to be believed, but adds that the Pulitzer Prize for fiction went to Elizabeth Strout for her collection of said literary form. Jarman quotes, for his point, Steven Millhauser: “smallness is the realm of elegance and grace,” and Jarman adds, “the realm of perfection.”
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  • Issue Number Number 41
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The 20th anniversary issue of Free Lunch is so chock full of delicious goodies for the main course, that dare I say there won’t be much room left for dessert, as the cover attempts so successfully to convey. To continue with the food metaphors and analogies, this journal is comparable to a three-course dinner. It is well balanced with poets of great renowned interspersed with poets of lesser acclaim, and poets somewhere in the middle who balance the plate out just right. The poems in this issue are joyful, ironic affirmations of poetry combining a great lyrical acuity with a strong sense of narrative.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This lovely little literary magazine doesn’t look like it could hold as much purely spectacular writing as it does, but don’t be fooled by its 50 pages. This speakeasy means business. Composed primarily of poems, with one short story, the editors have chosen wonderful explorations of emotions, both joyful and sorrowful, both reminiscent and forward-looking.
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  • Issue Number Volume 44 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“What’s this?” Martin Riker, associate editor of Dalkey Archive Press, asks Warren Motte, Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and world renowned critic of contemporary French literature. This first question, in an interview titled “Work and Play,” is a reference to a journal Motte hands Riker when they meet for the interview. The answer (“Something I thought you might be interested in”) turns out be an article about Motte’s quarter-century obsession with mirror scenes in literature. Motte estimates he’s identified (and catalogued on index cards) between 10,000-20,000 of these. His fascination with mirror scenes is, well, fascinating.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This edition of roger is amazing for its depth, its breadth, and its… fabulousness. I smiled through every page, and was truly sad when I was done, though I know that I will go back to it again and again, and it will be as old novels, dog-eared pages indicating that it has been loved.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I wonder what Abraham Lincoln (yes, that Abraham Lincoln), whose poems with their broad metaphoric strokes and plain, but competent rhymes conclude this issue (“And here’s an object more of dread, / Than ought the grave contains – / A human-form, with reason fled, / While wretched life remains.”), would make of Martha Carlson-Bradley’s objects: “Locked in the past, insistent, / someone knocks on the door/midmorning – // as metal trays in the freezer / trap their half-formed ice / and sanitary napkins hide, / wrapped like mummies / in the trash.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 32
  • Published Date July/August 2009
  • Publication Cycle Monthly
In their submission guidelines, the editors of this crime and noir website are aggressively specific about what they are looking for: “Please have crime, violence, murder, mayhem and chaos. Or a monkey.” But they don’t like serial killer stories or tales with hitmen because both have been overused. (I didn’t know that. You learn something every day.) And they would like the writer to think outside of the box.
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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Versal is true to its etymology. The word is related to the Latin vertere (to turn). This work will turn heads and turn your expectations upside down and inside out. You can turn some of the phrases over and over in your mind as you ponder their meanings. The work turns away from convention. There are surprising twists and turns. If you’re not into inventiveness or writing that is deliberately edgy and unusual (odd even), you may want to walk away. If this kind of work excites you, you’ll find something to interest you at every turn. Every time you turn the page, you encounter a unique turn of phrase.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
An unpretentious magazine like Weave might be overlooked for its small, chapbook style format, but to pass this issue by would be a mistake of literary consequence. Subtitled “Writing •Art • Diversity • Community,” the editors of Weave could not have thought of anything better than these words, for they are all to be found within the magazine’s covers.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
“A literary journal from the Hudson to the Sound” (that’s the Hudson River and the Long Island Sound in New York, where Westchester County is located. These suburban communities make up one of the wealthiest counties in the country, bordering one of the poorest). The annual invites submissions from writers living, working, or studying in Westchester. I hadn’t heard of any of this year’s contributors, but it’s clearly my own limitation, not their lack of credentials. About half of the issue’s writers have published a great deal, including poet Llyn Clague of Hastings-on-Hudson whose fourth book is just out; Kevin Kegan of White Plains whose published five novels; David Hellerstein of Larchmont, a physician and writer whose essay collection will be published by Kent State University Press; poet Joe Landau of New Rochelle, whose third book is due out this year; Boria Sax, author of numerous volumes; poet Rachel M. Simon, whose Theory of Orange won the Transcontinental Prize from Pavement Saw Press; and Mark Wisniewski, whose fiction has appeared in such prestigious journals as Poetry, TriQuarterly Review, and Southern Review and appeared in Best American Short Stories 2008.
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