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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted September 15, 2011

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  • Issue Number Issue 87
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brick is one of those journals that makes you feel a little inadequate, but in a good way. You realize, after reading, the vast amount of interesting and impressive writers who have somehow stayed hidden from you. It’s not only a matter of discovering new, contemporary voices you hadn’t yet had the pleasure of hearing (though that’s certainly part of it), but one of being exposed to established authors as well, those who have been around for years and—apparently—already have a good deal of clout to their names (even though you have no idea who they are). This latest issue of the Canadian-born magazine does a wonderful job of making you want to learn more about these men and women, to run to the library and check out every one of their books.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This magazine's second issue shows the same strengths that reviewer Sima Rabinowitz found in its inaugural issue last year—windows into China’s national culture and experience, uniquely personal poems in excellent translations, and stunning graphics. An offspring of World Literature Today and a publication of the University of Oklahoma, Chinese Literature Today will be an important resource for followers of the Chinese literary scene, and is likely to make converts of others who seek to connect with this turbulent and vital society.
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  • Issue Number Number 247
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The spring issue of The Fiddlehead delivers stunning work, fiction and poetry thick with new approaches to classic forms. This issue also features the winners of The Fiddlehead’s 20th annual Literary Contest. The honorable mention in poetry caught my eye early in the issue, “At the Edge of Lake Simcoe” by Catherine Owen:
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fifth Wednesday Journal is a most impressive magazine. Each beautifully-designed issue contains about 200 pages of poetry, prose, and black-and-white art and photography. Its editor, Vern Miller, has advanced degrees in both business and German Language and Literature, and FWJ, as it likes to be called, is the splendid result of these two passions. Guest editors in poetry and fiction oversee each issue. “Impressions,” the photo-and-art center section, is arresting and often brilliant. Interviews with a poet and a fiction writer, along with a number of book reviews, round out the journal.
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  • Issue Number Issue 72
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Here are 18 poems by 18 poets, all written at a level of craft that makes them pleasurable to read. Only one is strictly “formal,” a grave and successful rhymed villanelle by John Blair entitled “I Am the Trees Before the Sun.” Two other poems share a similar commitment to make use of repeated lines. Nancy Dougherty’s loosely rhyming “Video or Car,” an ironic poem about two teens killed in a car wreck, picks up the second and fourth lines of each four-line strophe to become the first and third lines of the next. Stephanie Mendel adopts the same pattern of repetition in an unrhymed longer poem about a premature infant, “1965.” In this poem, the repeated lines give a sense of the speaker attempting to gain control of painful thoughts by revisiting them and placing them in new contexts.
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The newest issue of the Indiana Review is heavy with pointed, skilled, beautifully subtle writing. The poems sit in the hand, the lines and images spilling through cupped fingers. The prose fills the room and exits without apology. Two outstanding pieces, “When My Father Was in Prison” by Hadley Moore and “Loblolly Pine in a Field of Hollyhocks” by Vievee Francis, demonstrate the withdrawn but commanding presence of the work in this issue.
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  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The second issue of Jelly Bucket is diverse, eclectic, and thoughtful. With a variety of poetry, prose, and creative nonfiction, Jelly Bucket does not seem to have specific, exclusive criteria, with the exception that all accepted work should reveal a new truth or way of life.
I was filled with both excitement and apprehension when I received my Summer 2011 issue of Lilipoh in the mail. This issue is entitled “When Disaster Strikes,” and the words “Radiation,” “Anxiety,” and “Emergency” jumped off the cover at me. As someone who feels particularly in-tune with many of the natural and man-made disasters that have occurred around the world in recent years, and as someone who feels a bit of trepidation when I ponder the future my generation appears to be leaving for our children, I already have more than my share of anxiety. However, I was reassured by what I found inside this magazine—a common perspective and some tips for helping to change our current course.
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  • Issue Number Number 29
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The Long Story is, according to its website, “the only literary magazine in America devoted strictly” to stories of between 8000 and 20,000 words. The magazine is “not likely to accept literary experimentation,” editorial taste runs to the deeply human, estranged but involved, and it wants its voices respectful and compassionate. These qualities infuse the nine superb stories in this issue. Somewhere between short story and novella, each of them requires an investment of time and thought on the part of the reader—and each gives a remarkable return.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
My two major complaints about numerous online literary magazines are: 1. They are so confusing and disorganized that finding anything takes diligent detective work; 2. The stories are boring and the poetry is derivative and lacking in creativity. I am happy to say that this young journal manages to avoid these pitfalls. Lowestoft Chronicle’s website is nicely laid out and there is wide variation of reading material.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In her Editor’s Note, Shanna Miller McNair states that the formation of The New Guard was based upon the need to create “something bold and unusual,” using a strategy of “juxtaposing the narrative with the experimental.” As you pour over the pages of The New Guard, it is quite easy to visualize and pin-point McNair’s original ambition. The New Guard presents a curious mixture of the traditional narrative with the experimental, whether it is intimate fan letters to long-deceased authors, short stories showcasing mythical transformations, or free-verse poems.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
These days we hear a lot about the demise of print publication and the general plight of the publishing world. But many agree that there will always remain an interest in local news and therefore local newspapers. The Newtowner is essentially local literary news for Newtown, Connecticut. For those engaged in the world of Arts and Literature, having a publication like this available to your community is something of a dream come true. After all, who wouldn't subscribe to a magazine highlighting the local goings-on pertaining to your niche area of interest?
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  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 1
  • Published Date May 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I was immediately drawn to Plain Spoke. Poetry in plain language, I thought. Yeah, there we go. The subtitle only made it better: A Literary Speakeasy. Oh yeah. My kind of language in my kind of place. I imagined straight, honest poetry like bourbon served neat in a drinking glass—edgy, not quite legit. I couldn’t wait to get started.
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  • Issue Number Number 85
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Circles of Hell: think Dante’s ancient classic? This themed issue of River Styx examines, analyzes, and explicates the idea of hell both as a place and metaphor. The writers are creative, funny, and at times undeniably enthralling.
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  • Issue Number Issue 82
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The title intrigued me. As I took my Pandora-esque peek between the pages of Sinister Wisdom, I was caught in a whirlwind of shadows, hope, despair, courage and fire. There is no complacency here, folks, so if that’s what you came for, you’ve come to the wrong place. These essays, poetry and art by lesbians who experienced the “coming out” times of the 60’s and 70’s force the reader’s eyes open, shines a light into them—a light that is sometimes too bright, too painful. You want to look away, but don’t. There is much here that you should not miss.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Joan Fox’s Editor’s Note, entitled “Variety and Vision,” states that this inaugural issue “features poems of survival, defiance and hope; images of our Western landscape; and, works offering a world of beings—mountain lions, coyotes, doves, dragonflies, cockroaches, fleas, cats, dogs, pelicans, humans, machines, sunlight.” Indeed, Three Coyotes highlights the beauty of the natural world, whether it is through the medium of prose, poetry, or photography.
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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The latest issue of Versal establishes its strong character before you even open it up. Simply styled with Antoinette Nausikaä’s cover art, it states in black handwriting “I AM HAPPY” (followed by the date and location of the statement’s creation). There it is. A negation of the bland and normal, an embracing of the strangeness of human existence. Part of the cover’s beauty comes from its confidence—isn’t it a bit more difficult, a bit more unnerving to say simply, “I am”? It allows for the possibility of any (or no) emotion, any description, and in that sense it is universal. Fitting, since the journal prides itself on its trans locality, based in Amsterdam but spanning across nations. At the same time, however, the statement is personal, almost forceful.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date June 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
When I received my stack of magazines to review this month, Weave felt the best in my hands. It’s a smaller journal, thin and light-weight, but that’s not all that separates it from “the big boys.” Weave opens its sixth issue with a stitched in supplement called The Clothesline. Here’s what founding editor Laura E. Davis has to say about it:
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  • Issue Number Issue 68
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Willow Springs Issue 68 is a meal. Maybe a sandwich. But maybe that metaphor is too old. Let’s say lasagna, poetry stuffed between layers of prose, topped with a melted interview. Willow Springs fills you up with poems by Dexter L. Booth, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, and Nance Van Winckel among many others, prose from Clare Beams, Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, Jill Christman, and Sarah Hulse, and a conversation with Richard Russo.
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  • Issue Number Volume 31 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The Worcester Review (published and edited out of Worcester, Massachusetts) is a bit of a rare bird, regularly combining a “regional” focus with a “Feature Section” on a particular poet of interest with Worcester area ties. This latest issue is a definite delight for readers interested in the poet Charles Olson. While this is not the only worthwhile aspect, it remains the key element which lifts the whole of The Worcester Review above the fray distinguishing it from similar literary reviews published this last year.
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