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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted November 15, 2010

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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 2
  • Published Date August 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Formerly the Kansas Quarterly, this issue of the Arkansas Review features two essays, a memoir, a poem, one short story, and numerous reviews. I like the narrow double column format (found most commonly these days in newspapers and The New Yorker), which makes the analytical essays (“Ain’t No Burnin’ Hell: Southern Religion and the Devil’s Music” by Adam Gussow and “Farmers and Fastballs: The Culture of Baseball in Depression Era Northeast Arkansas” by Paul Edwards) highly readable. These essays are intelligent and informative, but not stuffy or opaque.
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  • Issue Number Number 34
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The “borderlands” concept has never been more accurate. Along with a more general selection of more than 20 poets, this issue features a special section of “translingual poets,” defined as writers who “create in a language other than the one they were born into.” Editor Liliana Valenzuela praises the fine work of the translators whose work appears here alongside the originals and notes that many are gifted poets themselves. This issue also includes wonderful artwork by Liliana Wilson, terrific images with surreal elements, but wholly “real” human aspects that render the work both familiar and wondrous in the magical (but not silly or childish) sense of the word.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Sarah Legow's cover art for the latest 245 page volume of Cream City Review depicts ordinary objects inside eggshells. One shell holds sand. Another holds fur. Others hold clock gears, cigarette butts, shells, and twine. It's oddly perfect for the issue, as Cream City is crammed with strange, good pieces that give magic-realistic tinges to ordinary and gritty subjects.
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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In "The Last Jesus I Know Of – " a nonfiction piece from Descant's "Writers in Prison" issue – Stephen Reid writes "amongst living books, the shape of your world can shift a thousand times, one for each title, or be changed forever in a single page. In its own way, the prison library is more dangerous than the big yard."
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  • Issue Number Number 21
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It sounds huge – Forklift. It’s subtitled as if the description was written after a night of heavy drinking – A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety. It’s quirky – for example, section titles from the TOC: A Precaution in Planting; Fresh from the Nursery; Animals in the Garden; Sprinkling vs. Watering; and so forth. It looks fun, with whacky illustrations and graphics. It feels small – Forklift fits in one palm. It’s all of these things. And none of them. And you should take it seriously, even if it does its level best to dissuade you from doing so, at least at first glance.
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  • Issue Number Issue 15
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This journal is run by the MFA students at Texas State University and was founded in 2006. Each edition produces some combination of fiction, nonfiction, book reviews, interviews, poetry, and audio/videos.
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue is consistent with Main Street’s approach both to the mag and its chapbook series, direct, approachable poems and stories composed of casual diction, conversational tones, and familiar imagery. This issue features an interview with Main Street chapbook author Richard Allen Tyler, along with the work of 28 poets and a half-dozen fiction writers. The work of four photographers rounds out the issue. I liked, in particular, “A Pike’s Peak Spring” from M. Scott Douglass, clouds and snow gathered on and around railroad tracks captured at a moment of altering textures, depicted expertly in the photograph.
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  • Issue Number Volume 54 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Nimrod’s eagerly anticipated annual awards issue features prize winners, finalists, semi-finalists, and honorable mentions in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction: Terry Blackhawk, Shannon Robinson, Harry Bauld, Lydia Kann, Dan Kelty, Deborah DeNicola, Morris Collins, Sue Pace, Jude Nutter, Francine Marie Tolf, Ed Frankel, William Pitt Root, Laura LeCorgne, Andrea L. Watson, Usha Akella, Mark Wagenaar, Kate Fetherston, and Pamela Davis. Their work is accompanied by poems and stories by several dozen other poets and prose writers, including the amazingly prolific poet Linda Pastan, widely published poet Richard Terrill, and several fine translations of poetry originally published in Turkish and German.
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  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
When I received phoebe, I was struck by the name. Phoebe was one of the Titan gods and for some time was in control of the Delphic Oracle. She’s been called Goddess of Wise Counsel, Thoughtful Replies, and Snappy Answers. What a great name for a journal! I though with glee. I began reading with an earnest hopefulness that phoebe would turn out to be wise, intelligent, and quirky. Was she ever!
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  • Issue Number Volume 22 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of the Santa Monica Review features eleven stories introduced by a brief excerpt from each of the contributors (“Ab Intra”). The journal’s website describes its contents as fiction and nonfiction, though there is no genre classification in the TOC or the pages of the magazine. I’m tempted to refer to every entry simply as a “story” (real or imagined), though some pieces clearly do read more like fictive creations and others like “lived tales,” beginning with the opening piece in the issue, “Expert Opinion,” by Michelle Latiolais, a story about suicide, medical malpractice, and the fatal consequences of “adverse” reactions to commonly prescribed drugs.
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  • Issue Number Volume 20 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The magazine’s contest winner Dean Rader is joined by two dozen poets and a marvelous “Crossover” feature, “Book Sculptures” by Samantha Y. Huang, photo reproductions of exactly what the title of her work denotes, pages, spines, covers, words/text the stuff of three dimensional “ideas.” Poems in this issue, like Huang’s book sculptures, aim to reshape the way we think about spaces, places, and the capacity of language to capture unique angles.
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  • Issue Number Volume 22 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Amber Albrecht’s intricately composed, enticing drawings, more than two-dozen of which appear in the magazine as well as on the front and back covers, are representative of the work in this issue. You want to look more closely, find out more, figure out why a tree is sprouting from the back of a dress or from the chimney of a house. These images and perspectives are hard to classify. They’re not whimsical or playful so much as intensely of-the-moment, heightened in a familiar, but somewhat mysterious manner. They seduce with a kind of welcoming strangeness, a dress that looks like an egg from which the figure is hatched, a patch of ground that resembles a flying carpet, and titles like “People Who Are Not Like Us,” a short story by Brock Clarke. The opening of the story, too, captures the spirit of magazine as a whole: “Rupert goes first. Rupert’s real name is Shamequa, but we call her Rupert because one of the things we do is give black women the names of white men.” An irresistibly original beginning.
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