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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted November 15, 2011

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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Issue 63
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Brenda Miller, author of five Pushcart-Prize-winning works and co-author of a best-selling creative nonfiction text, is the editor-in-chief of Bellingham Review. The names of Rita Dove, Tess Gallagher, Tobias Wolff, and other better-than-well-known poets and writers light up the editorial board. And with such a masthead, and a mission statement that includes a cry of “hunger for […] writing that nudges the limits of form, or executes traditional forms exquisitely,” how could we not expect excellence from this fine journal out of Western Washington University? This hefty issue contains nearly 250 pages of striking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and photography. And from the contest winners that open the issue to the interviews that conclude it, not a single entry misfires.
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  • Issue Number Volume 62 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Notwithstanding Lee Sharkey’s essay/review on the poets Kazim Ali and Brian Teare, this entire volume of BPJ features just one poet, Michael Broek—more precisely, his series of thirty poems titled The Logic of Yoo. Reading the collection is a transforming experience. The series tackles the problem of violence in modern history. The problem is approached without preaching or thundering. A protagonist—a doctoral student—researches the topic, not because he is passionate about it or wants to rid the world of violence, but because he is paid for his work. Masterful irony reverberates in the laconism of the student’s research notes, in his quoting factual documents, and in evoking authentic objects, places, and persons.
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Two pieces shine brightest in the Summer 2011 issue of the Colorado Review—Diana Wagman's nonfiction piece “Mess” and James O'Brien's fiction piece “The Bones Inside Your Skin.”
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  • Issue Number Number 8
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The “dossier” section of every issue saves Court Green from falling in with, and being hopelessly lost among, the more run-of-the-mill fair getting churned out among MFA programs. It’s a pretty classy way to get around having “themes” for issues while actually having different themes for each issue, and offers the editors a good chance at a shot of overall cohesion. Once the “dossier” covered Lorine Niedecker, next year it’s going to be “The Short Poem,” but this year it’s Frank O’Hara.
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  • Issue Number Issue 26
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The cover art chosen for the Spring 2011 issue of Kestrel is a misty-blue piece titled Okeanos IV 2010 by Kathleen Holder, the visual artist featured in this issue. The artwork reminds me of a cold day on a beach, where the sky and the water fuse. Donna Long writes in her editorial comment, the submissions selected for publication sometimes “just seem cosmically ordained to share an issue.” Long tells us water is this cosmic connection, bending and rolling through the work like the thread of a river tying up a landscape. And I see that connection from the opening essay, “Upstream Against Forgetting” by Rob Merritt, to the poems, such as “Aqua Vitae” by Charles Tisdale or “Meditation: Labor Day” by Nancy Takacs. Wonderful.
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  • Issue Number Volume 50 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The dignified beauty of the vast Great Lakes region is often outshone by the bright lights of Broadway and the high-wattage glow of Hollywood. This issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review, subtitled “Love Song and Lament,” contains poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction that will immerse the reader in the quiet dignity of the area and the people who call it home.
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  • Issue Number Number 198
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Paris Review is such a great magazine, edited with such discrimination that likes and dislikes inevitably come down to matters of personal taste. The pieces that I most enjoyed in this issue were two essays—Lydia Davis's "Some Notes on Translation and on Madame Bovary," and Geoff Dyer's "Into the Zone"—and a poem by Sharon Olds, "The Haircut."
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Point is a sophisticated 187-paged Chicago-based literary magazine about contemporary life and culture. The Spring issue's most frequent theme is sports entertainment and rationale, although its five sections, "Letters from the Editors," "Essays," "Art," "Symposium," and "Reviews" include other topics. It's good that it is a biannual, as its many articles require, more often than not, erudite engagement, and certainly more than one sitting.
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  • Issue Number Volume 85 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
We’ve all said or heard from time to time: “old friends are the best.” This adage is certainly true with the Fall 2011 issue of Prairie Schooner. I’ve known this magazine for a long time—it has been published for longer than most of us reading it have been alive—and the current issue is just as lively and alive as the issues from the 1970s when I first subscribed in graduate school. Its generous collection of poems and prose is at once rich, exciting, challenging, and refreshing as the ample section of reviews is enlightening.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
It is truly shocking to know that Prime Mincer is a young magazine still in its first year of publication. This edition is packed with insightful, daring, and creative work that will appeal to a diverse readership. So many poems, stories, and nonfiction pieces stood out and demanded to be heard. This is certainly a magazine you will have to hold in your hands to enjoy the punch it delivers.
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  • Issue Number Issue 14
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue brings a fresh approach to regionalism by positing its own ad hoc region. "The I-90 Poetry Revolution" includes varied, ambitious work by poets who came from, live in or have some relation to the territory strung along the lanes, ramps, gas stations, motels, fast-food joints and rest stops between Boston and Seattle.
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  • Issue Number Volume 23 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The cool thing about THEMA is that prompt thing. Each issue of this cleverly-conceived magazine offers one premise (the prompt) and solicits whatever plots, poems, images and issues writers can come up with from that opening. Now, I don’t mean the opening or beginning of the story. I mean that opening into the imagination, that one key into story or wordplay. THEMA's threefold goal is: “to provide a stimulating forum for established and emerging literary artists […] to serve as source material and inspiration for teachers of creative writing […] [and] to provide readers with a unique and entertaining collection of stories and poems.” The theme for the summer issue was “About two miles down the road.” What would you come up with for that?
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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In the seventh issue of upstreet, creative nonfiction shines like an LED sun. Its poignancy encourages the reader to think of his or her own life experiences. The creative nonfiction stands out, to this reviewer anyway, as nothing short of amazing. It is both inspirational and compelling. While the fiction and poetry in this issue were good, the creative nonfiction reminded me, over and over again, of why I love to read.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Ah, Marin, county of my heart. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge north from San Francisco, veer west toward the ocean, and keep driving through oaks, hill country, and sea. Who wouldn’t love its rural beauty, or the loyalty to earth and humanity of the independent souls who choose to live there? The bio of Catherine David, whose delightful short essay “Amateurs are First-Rate Lovers” opens this issue of West Marin Review, identifies her as “an artist, journalist, and pianist living in Paris who visits West Marin whenever she can.” That love of place, that desire to be in this land of “seashore and woodland” infuses every work of word or art in this fine book.
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