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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted August 15, 2010

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  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
An engaging and provocative issue of this ever-impressive annual. This year’s portfolio of international writing features contemporary Polish poetry selected by guest editor Mark Tardi, complex and inventive work worthy of serious reading and sustained attention. Another portfolio guest edited Laura Moriarty presents the work of “A Tonalist” poets; and guest editors E. Tracy Grinnell, Paul Foster Johnson, Julian T. Brolaski and contributing editors Jen Hofer and Nathalie Stephens selected the work of three dozen other poets and a number of unconventional review essays.
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Issue 62
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The awards issue – and the judges chose well! A poem by Elizabeth McLagan, “All Alien Spirits Rest the Spirit,” chosen by Paulann Petersen; an essay by Alexandra Marzano-Lesnevich, “In the Fade,” chosen by Kim Stafford; and a story by Irene Keliher, “SPN,” chosen by Kathleen Alcalá. Well-composed, confident work; subtle, yet focused and intense. McLagan’s poem is representative of much of the poetry in this issue, poems steeped in rich images of the natural world rendered in careful, round language (“There are rocks that have forgotten the body: / orphaned, smoothed by their journey, tossed up // at random and left to dry in the sun.”) The winning essay, too, sets the stage for the creative nonfiction that follows, other essays (is this intentional or coincidental?) which explore a childhood relationship with the beach/ocean (essays by Julie Jeanell Leung and Susan Buis). And the winning story is also typical of the work in this issue, family dramas that rise above the vast sea of such work, thanks to strong prose and a tendency toward understatement.
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  • Issue Number Issue 171
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue is dedicated to Ai (1947-2010) as signaled by one page with only her name and dates centered in large type. I was impressed by this eloquent and elegant tribute to a poet whose powerful work is more richly and appropriately honored by this understated memorial than any long-winded remarks would be.
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  • Issue Number Number 23
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Household names – in households that read poetry, of course – include Alice Notley, Simone Muench, Jan Beatty, David Dodd Lee, and Alan Michael Parker. Forces to be reckoned with include Michael Robins, James Shea, Dora Malech, Daniel Borzutsky, Anne Boyer, Suzanne Buffam, and Mathias Svalina. Up-and-coming poets include Kristin Ravel, Sarah Elliott, Sandra Lim, and K. Silem Mohammad, among others.
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  • Issue Number Volume 49 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I admired Esther Schor’s recent biography of Emma Lazarus very much, so I was happy to find a new essay of hers in Michigan Quarterly Review (“The G20 and the E17”), and that’s where I entered this volume. The essay’s about a conference in a town three hours east of Istanbul, Turkey on Esperanto, the “international language” first created by the Polish Jewish occultist L. L. Zamenhof in the late 1880’s. I appreciate Schor’s lucid, fluid prose and the way in which she deftly moves the essay toward a consideration of other issues larger in scope and implication than the fate of Esperanto.
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
“Body, My House,” is the theme of new editor Maria Melendez’s first issue. “Human bodies, alive and in crisis, command the spotlight in the non-fiction books that have held my attention for the last 18 months,” she tells us in her “Welcome.” This is possibly, she reveals, the result of bodies in crisis in her own life, first her father’s triple bypass surgery, and later bouts of H1N1 from which she and family members suffered. There is certainly much writing about the experience of illness and disease in this issue, but there is also a good deal of work about food and eating; the body’s connection to the natural world; reproduction and aging; an essay about quitting smoking; and a poem about the art of maintaining a home as art (“this house is my poem!”).
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2010
Prole is proudly launching its inaugural voyage, and what a voyage. The message on page two states that this is “a journal of accessible poetry and prose to challenge and engage.” This journal is nothing if not challenging and engaging. Prole’s fiction and prose uses only artful story-telling, skillful-weaving, compact wording; no literary tricks, twists, surprise endings or jolts to deliver one deep into their vast little worlds. There are short stories with suspense and horror, such as “Book Covers” by Rebecca Hotchen and “Flower as Big as the Sky” by Matt Dennison. There are minute character studies such as “Shoes” by Dave Barrett and Bruce J. Berger’s “He had to Go.” And completing this tasty assortment are the odd and sad like “Stone and Wind” by Carl T. Abt, “Scarred” by Kevin Brown, and Stephen Ross’s “Clocks without Hands.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 45
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Interviewed in this issue by Jim Porter, master of prose style Richard McCann defines voice as a function of rhythm (Ms. Woolf was right, of course!) and describes his process of walking around memorizing his own words as they come to him. I have never heard this process described before (which is, for what it’s worth, exactly the way I compose poetry) and I appreciated McCann’s candor. His interview is one of the highlights of the issue.
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  • Issue Number Issue 17
  • Published Date April 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The work in Smartish Pace is just what the journal’s title suggests, accomplished and sophisticated. The issue features many poets whose reputations are entirely in keeping with that categorization (Gerald Stern, Eamon Grennan, Carol Muske-Dukes, Terrance Hayes, Barbara Ras, Kim Stafford, William Logan, Sandra McPherson, Amjad Nasser of Egypt, Norman Dubie, and Michael Collier); and many others whose poems are no less accomplished or sophisticated (Steven Cushman, Terence Winch, Casey Thayer, Patrick Ryan Frank, and Katie Ford, among others).
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  • Issue Number Number 57
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The bright, colorful, fun, full bleed cover with its octopus, crab, and turtle swimming from margin to margin says it all. It announces Number 57’s theme (“The Sea Issue”); the journal’s tone (delightful, playful, forward moving); and its voice (a little over the top, “Featuring the riveting poetry of Jeffrey McDaniel; the unputdownable fiction of Amelia Grey, and the dazzling nonfiction of Steven Church” the cover copy shouts). The journal is produced by graduate students in the Department of English at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Ah, but the faculty advisor is Ander Monson. Well, now I get it! Monson is the inventive and clever editor of the online journal diagram (and a lot of great stuff in print) and the publisher of hybrid and graphically oriented work at his New Michigan Press. His students are learning their lessons well. The journal is really inventive. Really fun. And, despite some excesses, really successful at what it does, beginning with the illustrated instructions on how to read the journal.
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  • Issue Number Issue 13
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Tiferet is an independent “multi-faith publication dedicated to promoting peace in the individual and in the world,” published six times annually (two print issues and four online issues). Issue 13 features five essays (most are excerpts from forthcoming or recently published books); three short stories; the work of a dozen poets; black and white photographs by Taoli-Ambika Talwar and a drawing by Israel Carlos Lomovasky. The large format is ideal for Talwar’s exceptional photographs, three images that couldn’t be more different from each other (a close-up of a blossom; a distanced view of a house in the woods; and a close-up of a wall of granite rock), except for the skill and creativity of their composition.
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  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Upstreet is an award-winning publication that claims to have “the best new fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction available” to “offer a voice to prose writers and poets who might not find publication in more mainstream journals.” However “mainstream” might be defined, whether these pieces are off-beat, they are definitely striking and high-quality. Choosing which poems and short-stories to comment on is almost a random process; there is good variety, and the quality is consistent. The size of the journal is typical of any paperback; about two hundred pages, sporting a shiny black cover with the title printed in bold orange on the front.
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  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This is a brand spanking new lit mag with only two issues published, but one which shows considerable promise. The website is pleasant and easy to negotiate and there is a wide variety of material to choose from: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, paintings, comic art, photography, interviews, and reviews. I had so much fun I delved into their single archive to get a taste of everything.
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