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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted April 20, 2010

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  • Issue Number Volume 68 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue’s theme is “Celebrity Houses. Celebrity Politics,” framed by an essay of the same name by Daniel Harris, who has written widely on popular culture. Harris explores the blurred lines between celebrity as a Hollywood-esque phenomenon and celebrity in political life (stars who become spokespersons for “causes,” politicians who flaunt their looks, wealth, and social lives as if they were stars of stage and screen). He considers the relationships between Republican ideology and our fascination (obsession) with the Hollywood elite, a link that is falsely depicted as antagonistic – and more dangerous than it at first appears.
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  • Issue Number Issue 12
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Copper Nickel 12 isn’t a theme issue, but a theme of sorts emerges nonetheless, or at least an organizing principle that is highly appealing and largely successful – how do we relate to the things, the stuff, the variety and quantity of forms and objects around us, human and non-human. It begins with the gloriously evocative cover photograph by Chris Morris from his series “Forgotten History.” Six additional photos in the series appear in the issue, along with the photographer’s remarks. The photos document abandoned homesteads in the area where Morris grew up, and capture the decay (which he does beautifully) and the photographer’s sense of “personal connection” to these “spaces.” Each is a vast landscape of what is missing and yet still exists, highlighted by an outdated or antiquated object (the rotary phone on the magazine’s cover).
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 3
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
I look forward to Event’s nonfiction contest issue every year, and it’s always worth the wait. In addition to the three winning essays, this issue includes the work of ten poets (who couldn’t be more different from each other); three fiction contributors; and a number of reviews. Contest judge John Burns, executive editor of Vancouver Magazine, describes his winning selections, quite accurately it seems to me, as works that “speak truths privately experienced, publicly recounted…told with creativity, absolutely, but also, we trust, with fidelity.” We can’t, of course, know if this is true, but these writers (Eufemia Fantetti, Katherine Fawcett, and Ayelet Tsabari) make me believe that it is so, which amounts to the same thing.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Photographed in sepia tones, a man holds a globe while facing the camera. John Bohannon’s cover plays with expectations of scale. It seems to evoke mastery, to suggest that man is large enough to contain the world in his hands, that the immense has suddenly become bearable. The latest volume of The Florida Review, however, often confirms that we are still very much of the world rather than standing somewhere beyond its concerns.
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  • Issue Number Volume 22 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Green Mountains Review, published by Johnson State College in Vermont, is a haven of poetry, fiction, essays and book reviews of substantial quality. A literary magazine with an impressive history, the GMR is known for publishing the likes of Julia Alvarez, Galway Kinnell, Mark Doty, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Robert Bly, and Joy Harjo over its twenty-plus years of showcasing both established and up-and-coming writers.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This tenth anniversary issue opens with founding editor Mitch Wieland’s summary, among other remarks, of one marker of his journal’s success: from the first nine issues, nine stories or poems were reprinted in major awards anthologies (best ofs, etc.), another 15 stories were short-listed for these prizes. The Editor’s Note is followed by tributes from more 19 writers to the late Carol Houck Smith, editor at W.W. Norton & Company for 60 years. Maxine Kumin writes that Houck Smith was “everything an editor should be: compassionate, demanding, supportive, and seldom wrong.” Joan Silber remembers that she “loved her writers and she loved her city.” Charles Baxter praises Houck Smith’s worldliness, something he considers essential in a “fine editor.”
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  • Issue Number Number 66
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Spalding University (where the journal is published) guest faculty editors Kathleen Driskell, Kirby Gann, Charlie Schulman, Luke Wallin, and guest editor Betsy Wood, a Spalding University MFA Program alum, have selected the work of 22 poets, four fiction writers, an equal number of nonfiction writers, two playwrights, and five young writers (for the “Children’s Corner") for this issue. There is much solid, competently composed work here from writers who publish widely and consistently in fine journals.
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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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  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Weekly online
This is simply the best online literary magazine in the country today. New stories are provided every week from a stellar list of writers, and a wide variety of material is presented on a rotating basis – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, interviews, cartoons, book reviews, and other features. And now they have taken the evolutionary step of becoming the first lit mag on Amazon’s Kindle. As I have stated before, if you wish to see the future of online publishing, read this magazine.
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  • Issue Number Number 19
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The 2010 edition of New Millennium features a reprint of a profile/interview with the late John Updike by the magazine’s editor, Don Williams, originally published in 1996; a Poetry Suite of work by 51 poets and the short-short fiction, fiction, nonfiction, “Special Obama Awards,” and poetry winners in the magazine’s highly popular contests. Award-winning works are accompanied by author photos and statements. For the most part, prose contributions favor casual and natural voices, credible and authentic dialogue, well rounded plots, logical and familiar narrative impulses, and preoccupations that may be shared familiarly by many readers.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
“Make it good. Do what you have to do to make it good.” That’s jack-of-all-genres (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, teaching, publishing) Ander Monson’s perfect answer to interviewer Shaelyn Smith’s question about process. And it describes the work in Issue 3. The interview with Monson is terrific. Anne Carson and Bob Currie’s “Wildly Constant” is wildly fascinating with its blurred text, revision-like elements (cross outs, arrows, notes) and Carson’s signature economy, those compact little lines that contain whole worlds.
  • Subtitle A Journal of New Writing
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  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Let me be honest: I've always had a crush on Pleiades. This venerable journal publishes so much consistently good writing, especially poetry, that it is a pleasure to dive into the words between its covers. At 280 pages, it is bigger than a lot of books being published today; like a good novel, it can be zipped through, or relished over a longer period of time.
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  • Issue Number Issue 14
  • Published Date Winter 2009-10
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
A large format, staple-bound magazine of “fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art that resonates with the complexity and truth of the Christian faith,” Ruminate is published in Fort Collins, Colorado. “Each issue…speaks to the existence of our daily lives while nudging us toward a greater hope.” This issue’s theme is “Earnest Jest,” which editor Brianna Van Dyke describes as a way to consider the “paradox that weighty truths can come from humor; knowledge from fools; and that very act of play is wisdom.” The theme is played out in the work of 14 poets, two fiction writers, and two visual artists.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The inaugural issue of Sakura Review is striking in its simplicity. The cover of this perfect-bound journal sports a line drawing of a naked tree surrounded by its fallen leaves, and the back cover just a stump, still surrounded by the undisturbed leaves.
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  • Issue Number Volume 12
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Named after the Philosopher’s stone used in alchemy to create gold and unite matter and spirit, the Water-Stone Review does exactly what its name suggests – with paper and ink, it unites language and soul, words and spirit. This multi-genre review is diverse, fresh, artful, and exceptionally crafted. At the risk of sounding the fluff alarm, I have to say that the Water-Stone Review is truly golden.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If you hadn’t considered traveling to New Zealand, White Fungus will make you want to go. Not because this New Zealand-based magazine provides a picture of the landscape, though the cover is a lovely and unconventional painting of flowers in the park at Wellington, Aotearoa; and not because the inside cover graphic depicts the ocean in its sparkling turquoise glory; and not because the many ads for art galleries show that the visual arts are flourishing there. But because the poems, interviews, fiction, and essays here will let you know that New Zealand is a place for serious thinking about politics, cultural realities, social dilemmas, historical realities, the arts, and the power of language to render these subjects with a kind of dynamism and urgency that can often be missing in literature as in life. (And the design and graphics are terrific, too.)
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