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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted November 17, 2009

  • Issue Number Number 12
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Published in Hong Kong, Asia Literary Review may be difficult to find in US bookstores. I’d never seen it until NewPages’s amazing (heroic, really) team sent it to me. I am sad to think of what I may have missed in the past, delighted to have discovered this sensational magazine, and hopeful that other readers may be able to subscribe to and/or find it in US markets. The cover alone is worth many times the modest price of $11.99 (prices on the back cover are listed for Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Australia, UK, India, Canada, and the US, which gives an idea of the journal’s markets).
  • Issue Number Issue 168
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“There’s nothing I won’t do for love,” writes Frank Giampreto in his poem “Self-Portrait in Mirror with Sinus Headache.” But, you’ll surprised at what comes next:
  • Issue Number Number 22
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Poet Rachel Zucker quotes poet Matt Rohrer in a poem about poems titled “Poem,” which is the first poem in the latest issue of the Columbia Poetry Review:
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 4
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“That tug toward the low-or-lower-tech,” in other words . . . Luddite. This issue’s theme. Not anti-technology, editor Sylvia Legris explains, but rather a celebration of “that desire to make art or writing using methods and materials that are slower, messier, less reliable.” Despite the fact that I find many high-tech tools (my cell phone and my PC to name just two) to be among the most unreliable of objects and resources and often far messier than non-technological things, I appreciate what Legris means – a deliberate distancing from “hypervelocity,” and I love the work she’s chosen. Categorized under the headings “machine,” “paper,” “fixture,” “mortar,” and “terminal,” Grain Luddite focuses on our relationship with the stuff of life (from our flesh and bones to the bones of our homes) with which we interact, without its being, in the technological sense, interactive.
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Online
This literary magazine overwhelms the senses with information. Their home page is chock full of fiction, nonfiction, interviews, poetry, book, music, and film reviews, art, and a social justice blog. They have a sizable list of staff members and they are looking for more. One gets the impression that there is much to read and learn here, and maintaining this website must be a formidable task.
  • Issue Number Number 62
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In an unusual and enlightening “conversation,” visual artist Bruce Herman and his patron (patron!) Walter Hansen discuss a three-year project that “involved producing a cycle of images on the life of the Virgin Mary in two large altarpieces that have been exhibited in the United States and are now installed semi-permanently in Monastery San Pedro, a thirteenth-century Benedictine convent in Orvieto, Italy.” They discuss the commissioning, making, and exhibiting of contemporary religious art in the context of the patron’s active participation. If this is a highly unusual situation, and a highly unusual “find” in a magazine, Herman’s approach to his art is, instead, what we might expect – and even hope for – when it comes to art making: “the losing and the finding is the whole point – both in the making process, and in the symbolism – which is why I’m always feeling that the meaning of the work is a fluid thing, not something I control or micromanage.”
  • Issue Number Volume 4 Number 2
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“You . . . realise that many poems are well-enough written to be publishable – and yet they don’t excite. They do not cause the hair on the back of the neck to stand up. The editorial heart doesn’t stop, nor breath shorten. The language is inert, the subjects are boring. Poets can often seem to be working a narrow little seam of private experience.” I wish this weren’t the case on this side of the Atlantic, as well, but what Peter Sirr laments here of the state of poetry in Ireland is all too often true in the US, as well. But, thank goodness for this excerpt “This is Not an Editorial,” from Sirr’s essay in the bi-monthly newsletter, Poetry Ireland, and for the other marvelous excerpts of speeches and exquisite essays and poems in Irish Pages. The work here does excite, does take away one’s breath and renew one’s confidence in the state of the written word in English (and in Irish). This issue’s theme is “The Sea,” though the journal is not dogged in its approach to the theme.
  • Subtitle Poetry in Review
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Always as a big as a doorstop, and often heart-stopping-ly good, Parnassus is a monumental-sized read. This year, I find especially worthwhile an essay with photos, “Seven Rhymes,” by Peter McCary; a grouping of essays and poems all dealing with music (work by Daniel Albright, John Foy, Dian Blakely, and Mathew Gurrewitsch); a memoir by Joy Ladin (who has published work previously in Parnassus as Jay Ladin; the transition from one to the other is the subject of her essay); an essay on Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay by Devin Johnston; and a translation of the poem “Dunia” from the original Spanish by its author Otto-Raul González.
  • Issue Number Volume 83 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Guest Editor Grace Bauer was given the reins of this issue of Prairie Schooner. Influenced by the number of recent baby boomer milestones, including news reports about their first retirements and the golden anniversary of Barbie, Bauer decided to dedicate the volume to the generation. Not only have boomers produced a wide range of work, she notes, but they are, perhaps, the most-written-about generation of Americans. The choice is an apt one; baby boomers witnessed vast societal change. They are capable of writing about the times of both typewriters and computers. They bridge the gap between 45s and the ubiquitous iPod.
  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue begins with Catie Rosemurgy’s poem “Things That Didn’t Work.” Delicate. Restrained. Precise: “Picture frames. Targets. The psychological / boundaries described in books. / Any shape or line whatsoever.” And, fortunately, not a predictor of what lies ahead in Seneca Review. There are certainly pieces here that might not have worked in less capable hands. But the risks have paid off and the work is strong. In particular, I appreciated what Laura Brown-Lavoie accomplishes in “Bricklaying,” an essay that merges biblical language, fragments of fairy tales, poetry, political commentary, and the poet’s lyrical diction in prose-poem like paragraphs separated by sets of empty brackets. The piece is about (if it is fair to say that it is about anything) how we create, and while I’m not always sure I follow its logic, I want to see it through to the end.
  • Issue Number Issue 134
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This issue is guest edited by Leigh Buchanan Bienen, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University School of Law, and author of the collection of short stories The Left Handed Marriage. The issue is devoted entirely to theater-related essays and analysis, beginning with the editor’s essay, “Art, and the Art of Teaching,” which traces her own journey from literature to law to theater and back to fiction again and finally to a consideration of the teaching of art (in the largest definition of the word) in the context of the world’s dramatic – and unacceptably traumatic – realities: “If art is going to survive, people do have to stop killing one another, on the small and large scale, and beating up on one another, on the small and large scale, and learn to look at each other.” Finally, she equates the classroom and the theater, and by extension the space in which we perform our daily lives, too: “The real questions cannot be asked or answered alone, and they are asked most powerfully, when we listen knowing that others are listening with us at the same time, in a darkened space.”
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The less legible meanings of sounds, the little reds
Not often realized, the lighter words
In the heavy drum of speech, the inner men
Behind the outer shields, the sheets of music
In the strokes of thunder, dead candles at the window
When day comes, fire-foams in the motions of the sea
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