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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted May 15, 2010

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  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 3
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
CALYX was established by four women in 1976 to explore the creative genius that women contribute to literature and art. The publication prints three issues per volume in the winter and summer. It presents a wide range of poetry, short stories, artwork, and book reviews. Its mission is to “nurture women’s creativity by publishing fine literature and art by women.” CALYX is known for discovering and publishing new writers and artists or those early in their careers; among them Julia Alvarez, Molly Gloss, and Eleanor Wilner. The publication delivers high quality work to all audiences. By 2005, CALYX had published over 3,800 writers and artists.
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  • Issue Number Number 38
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Nonfiction guru Lee Gutkind describes the new incarnation of Creative Nonfiction (big, bold, red!) in a style befitting any charismatic leader:
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  • Issue Number Volume 20
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Eclipse is an annual of poetry and fiction published by Glendale Community College in California. I did not find many names with which I was familiar in the TOC (the exceptions being Richard Robbins and Lyn Lifshin), but the writers featured here have solid and even impressive credentials nonetheless (Poetry East, Mid-American Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Bitter Oleander, Hunger Mountain, Atlanta Review, Ploughshares, Field, Boston Review, The Antioch Review, Kalliope, Black Warrior Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Glimmer Train, Sixteen Rivers Press, White Pine Press). And what’s more important, I appreciated most of the work, and I liked a lot of it (which are, and happily so, not the same thing).
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fact-Simile, a young, independent literary journal published out of Colorado, looks more like an unremarkable neighborhood newsletter than a magazine dedicated to “push[ing] the envelope of polite society.” In fact, next to other widely circulated contemporary journals, it appears downright prosaic – an aesthetic yawn. But its homespun look belies its content. Fact-Simile offers interviews with authors, reviews of plays and short stories, and a healthy sampling of poetry representing all genres. It is professionally edited and well composed.
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  • Issue Number Number 86
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The rainstorm that thrashed its way across the Northeast in March was just delivering its final punishing blows to the tri-state region when I read Christine Tobin’s “Exhale,” winner of the The Greensboro Review’s Amon Liner Poetry Prize. She captures well the anxiety before and sense of strangeness and near disassociation during a storm of great magnitude, and then the return to routine, in this case one that is symbolic of the death and destruction of the everyday, the cycle of life with or without storms, the return to normalcy as a return to a cycle of expected devastation on some level:
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  • Issue Number Volume 22 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In memory of the poet Ai, whose work appears in this issue (and which I had not happened upon in a long, long time) and who died just this past March of cancer, let me begin this review with an excerpt from what is likely to be the last poem of hers I’ll see in a current issue of a magazine, “I’m the Only One Here”:
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  • Issue Number Number 37
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’m always pleased when a Table of Contents includes some of my favorite, but lesser known writers, in this case Mark Conway and Christina Davis. Both are moderately well established (impressive publication credentials), but not entirely familiar names even to avid poetry readers (like Jane Hirshfield or Kim Addonizio, both of whom appear in this issue, as well). Conway’s work is always beautifully crafted, tender, moving, and memorable. While his work often narrates a personal or family story (which interests me less, admittedly, than work of a more metaphysical nature), he always reaches beyond the daily images for something larger and fuller. He has just one poem here, “Scholar of the Sorrows,” but it is representative of his work and I am happy to find him in this prestigious location.
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  • Issue Number Volume 62 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Harold Fromm’s essay “Michael Phelps, Domenico Scarlatti, and Scott Ross,” encapsulates the issue’s most dominant and captivating aspects, the strangely rewarding juxtaposition of the popular and the esoteric; entertainment and sport with the arts; the ordinary and the arch; gold medals (Phelps) and gold standards (Scott Ross).
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  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I can’t really think of any topic more important right now than this issue’s theme, “the dynamics of wealth and poverty.” Editor Ann Neelon reminds us that the theme, in and of itself, assumes an awful lot: “The assumption is that there IS a dynamics of wealth and poverty – i.e. as opposed to a rigid inherited class structure” (I’m inclined to believe the latter is more accurate), and she is, with good reason, concerned about the disturbing statistics in the region where the magazine is published: “Kentucky is the fifth-poorest state: 23 percent of the poor are children, 30 percent are African American, 27 percent are Hispanic and 30 percent have less than a high school education.” She wonders where all the money has gone. And she is convinced, nonetheless, that the poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in this issue “will help us to…redefine ourselves in the wake of our incursion into near-apocalyptic economic territory.” I hope she is right, but if she is not, it won’t be for lack of originality, creativity, or insights.
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
You’re idling in rush-hour traffic. Bored, and sick of hearing the same droning pop song for the fifty-seventh time, you flip through the radio stations and happen upon a song you’ve never heard before. The beat is good; the lyrics are fresh. You’re really in the groove. Bouncing head, tapping fingers, all that. You wait for the end of the song, desperate to discover the identity of the mastermind behind the creation. But the DJ cuts straight to commercial, and like me, you aren’t technologically savvy enough to own a robot-like phone that tells you what the name of the song is or who sings it. You’re stumped and annoyed, and you spend the next week humming the song to all your friends to see if they’ve heard it, too.
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  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Saranac Review is an annual featuring work by American and Canadian writers published at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh. The terrific cover art is by Ric Haynes, oil paintings from a series called the “The Floral Wars” composed of combinations of “flower set ups” and toy figurines. His short essay, “The Floral Wars: Beauty and Brutality,” (with studies/drawings of the individual figures) is a highlight of the issue. The artist’s approachable style, both in the essay and the visual works, is representative of the journal as a whole, which features work that tends toward the “accessible” and casual in tone and diction.
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  • Issue Number Volume 46 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
There is no announced theme in this issue (which marks the journal’s 75th anniversary), but do you perceive a pattern? Here are the opening lines of the issue from “In the Village of Missing Children” by Rigoberto Gonzalez:
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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This special issue of Subtropics features over thirty translations from France, Japan, Russia, Spain, Romania, Argentina, Mexico, and other countries that interpret a variety of crossings. “Hazaran,” by nobel laureate J.M.G. Le Clézio, introduces a mysterious handyman and storyteller who leads his neighbors when they learn that the government plans to evict them from Frenchman’s Dyke, a shantytown populated by migrants. The story concludes with an exodus as one character, Alia, glances back at the darkened shore. Translation can inspire feelings of displacement, but at its best, becomes appreciable as confident work rather than as a shadow of the original.
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  • Issue Number Volume 23
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku’s poem, “After the Evening Movie,” ably translated by Shpresa Qatipi and Henry Israeli, is not part of the issue’s “portfolio” segment (“Captured: Writing About Film and Photograph”), but part of what editor Amber Withycombe defines as the issue’s “adventurous general work.” But, it’s clearly no accident that a poem about the movies opens this volume of what has been for as long as I can remember, in my view, one of this country’s most underappreciated literary magazines.
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