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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted July 16, 2010

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  • Issue Number Volume 27 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Guest editor Amy Hempel selected the work of 21 writers for the issue’s special “Innovative Fiction” focus. She looked for work that was “new,” but also new to the author (poets writing fiction; fiction writers experimenting with memoir forms). And she sought work “that was visceral and visual, that joins nerve and insight, that is darkly funny, that does not back away from compassion…and that amplifies the possibilities of what a story can be.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The inaugural issue of The Asian American Literary Review – whose mission is to form “a space for writers who consider the designation ‘Asian American’ a fruitful starting point for artistic vision and community” features an interview with Karen Tei Yamashita; three book reviews; poetry; and prose that often concerns individuals confronted by personal shortcomings.
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  • Issue Number Volume 8 Issue 2
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published by Minnesota State University at Mankato, Blue Earth Review is a stellar compilation of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. This happy threesome is fresh and enjoyable. There’s no niche. No artwork other than the cover. No crazy long commentaries by editors. Therefore, why go on and on about this journal’s vision? No reason as far as I can see. Let’s jump right in.
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  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue is dedicated – in a trend that is becoming increasingly (happily) noticeable in literary magazines of all kinds – to translation, and reflects the editors’ efforts to “sharpen Bombay Gin’s focus.” The Translation Portfolio includes versions from the Navajo of Frank Mitchell’s “17 Horse Songs” by Jerome Rothenberg and an accompanying essay; an interview with Zhang Er, followed by poems of hers translated from the Chinese; an interview with Chilean poet Cecilia Vicuña, followed by her work; as well as poems, ancient and contemporary, translated from Japanese, Finnish, and French.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This hefty issue of Carpe Articulum begins with an account of David Hoffman’s Pulitzer Prize winning nonfiction book, The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, from the author, himself a writer for the Washington Post, and an interviewer. There are so many secrets detailed in this issue that one can imagine just how explosive the book itself is. As Ted Hoffman relates, both from the book and from his interviewee,
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  • Issue Number Issues 20, 21, 22
  • Published Date Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This lit mag has a manifesto: “We worry about the state of modern literature. We worry that it’s too realist, monolithic, corporate, print-bound and locked in its own bubble…We think literature is a place to safely explore controversial and unpleasant topics and unfamiliar points of view.” Online magazine websites are vastly different in structure, and I found this one a bit difficult to negotiate in the beginning, but there are many gems to be discovered.
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  • Issue Number Number 55
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Gargoyle is a fat annual published in Arlington, Virginia. At nearly four hundred pages, this large volume of work is surprisingly consistent in tone, which, for the most part, tends toward the sardonic and distanced, rich in contemporary imagery, with edgy and provocative openings, and social, political, and cultural implications to varying degrees. This issue presents the work of nearly 70 poets, 5 nonfiction writers, two and a half dozen fiction writers, and two photographers, whose black and white photos include landscapes and close-ups of animals.
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  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
As a woman entering an age in life when motherhood is a main area of interest and concern, I was excited and intrigued by the idea of a magazine titled get born and dedicated to “the uncensored voice of motherhood.” The title of this magazine alone is reminiscent of certain phrases like get lost and get bent. I must say, I was very hopeful.
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  • Issue Number Issue 75
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In this issue of Glimmer Train, there is an interview with Andrew Porter by Trevor Gore. Porter is the author of The Theory of Light and Matter, a collection of short stories, recently published by Vintage/Knopf that won the 2007 Flannery O’Connor Award in Short Fiction. He’s also won far too many accolades for me to mention here, except to say that he’s a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, which put him up a notch in my view.
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  • Issue Number Volume 20
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Literal is a bilingual journal published three times a year in Houston, Texas. It’s a large-format, glossy, visually impressive publication of political reflection, artwork, fiction, scholarly essays, book reviews, interviews, poetry, and commentary. The current issue is dedicated to the intellectual as a “contemporary pensive figure.” The exploration begins with the cover photo of a sculpture by Mexican artist Victor Rodríguez, “White Head, 2005,” the head of a man lying on its side, eyes closed. The artist is interviewed (in Spanish) by Tanya Huntington Hyde in the magazine.
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  • Issue Number Volume 9
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue begins with a simple question, but Susan Nisenbaum Becker’s “What If?” is a complex amalgamation of blessings that might just change everything, but that ends with a rather sobering wondering. For instance, she writes,
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  • Issue Number Number 114
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Why I adored this issue of the New Quarterly:
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  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Small and unassuming, The Orange Coast Review, an annual put out by Orange Coast College, is visually dazzling, for the cover art to the glossy midsection gallery. Including far more artwork than most journals, the 2009 issue features the work of fifteen different artists, several contributing multiple works. The most arresting pieces include Barbara Higgins’s photographs of mod-clad mannequins at a glitzy Laundromat, Jonathan Fletcher’s series of pin-hole photos, distorted, elongated features of his subjects all the more striking in black and white, and Frank Martinangeli’s etchings, which give the viewer the feeling they are viewing two worlds simultaneously.
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  • Issue Number Volume 37
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Though lamentably thin for an annual journal, Oyez Review still provides the reader with tremendous value and represents a pleasant afternoon of reading. Considered as a whole, the editors selected fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art with a European feel. The work traffics in easily accessible themes, but refuses to offer easy, unfulfilling answers to important questions.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Quiddity is simply delightful. Beginning with Fani Papageorgiou’s poem “The Welder,” it goes about its business of entertaining the masses of literary fandom:
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  • Issue Number Number 166-167
  • Published Date Spring-Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Almost nothing can excite me more on the cover of a magazine than these five words “a novella by Andrea Barrett.” Barrett is a terrific storyteller and a master of the form. Novellas are hard to find (so few journals publish them). And Salmagundi is always great, so finding the combination Barrett/novella/Salmagundi signals good reading ahead. And both Barrett and the journal deliver.
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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, a publication of Firewheel Editions is, in my not-always-so-humble-opinion, one of the most exciting and satisfying journals being published today. Editor Brian Clements favors work that is provocative (but not ceaselessly edgy) and often inventive, but nonetheless solidly grounded. There is seldom anything superfluous or ostentatious; never anything crude; nothing designed to shock or surprise for the mere fact of surprising. The work tends to be highly original and idiosyncratic, but is rarely opaque, obscure, or impenetrable. Inventive forms and hybrid genres are created of carefully crafted language, respect for the integrity of meaning, and attention to the primacy of rhythm and the value of original, but plausible and impressive imagery.
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  • Issue Number Number 4
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue is dedicated to Hayden Carruth who taught at Syracuse University where the journal is produced. “It has never been our intention,” say the editors’ notes, “to explicitly define ‘upstateness’ in so many words…but it does seem to be true, in a purely ostensive way…that our editors in each issue have helped communicate a vision of our region that is more vital than perhaps even those of us who live here would suspect.” Upstate is, in fact, they conclude “a state of mind.” Evoking that state of mind is the work in this issue of nearly two-dozen poets, nine fiction writers, a dozen nonfiction writers, a short drama, two dozen visual artists, a handful of book reviewers, and Mary Gaitskill, who is interviewed by Jennifer Pashley.
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  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
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