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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted February 15, 2012

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  • Issue Number Number 74
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This stellar, solemn issue of Agni begins with Sven Birkerts’s “The Golden Book,” a lament about certain things that have been lost in time, and certain things that can be rediscovered through writing, photography, and books. At the forefront of what has been lost, he implies, is the bookstore—in this case, a Borders that provided him with his first post-college job in Michigan. What can be gained from reading and looking at books is a sense of immersion, that each time one returns to an image, line, or story, there is more to be sensed, more meaning to be wrung out of it.
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  • Issue Number Volume 69 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The 70th anniversary issue of The Antioch Review is mammoth. This 385-page issue serves up the best of the past ten years of The Antioch Review. Some of the luminaries chosen for this issue are Stephen Jay Gould, Daniel Bell, Clifford Geertz, Aimee Bender, Gordon Lish, Benjamin Percy, Eavan Boland, and Federico García Lorca. This best-of celebration is a wonderful place to turn for any who are looking for interesting pieces by established writers.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Issue 2
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Tomatoes, children, cats, drinks, and boats. Reading a poetry journal in one sitting can be problematic. You notice odd, inconsequential connections between poems, like those listed above. An excellent categorization of this issue of Bateau is that which the editors put forth: transformation and morphology. Themes aside, the charm of Bateau is in its understatement and uniqueness. Including the work of thirty well-accredited poets, this issue is a mish-mash of inventive, quirky poems that play with form and content, impressively pinpointing elusive emotions and giving artistic value to the most banal moments.
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  • Issue Number Volume 24
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If I hear writers talking about literary magazines, I often hear them getting excited about some new magazine on the scene. They talk about the experimental aesthetic or the unique formatting or the promise of aggressive marketing. They talk about what they’ve submitted and what it might mean to get something accepted. They talk as though the magazine might just be the next Paris Review—or the next Beloit Fiction Journal, for that matter.
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  • Issue Number Number 4
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Big Lucks, much like its name, has a quirky but earnest mission statement. “We at Big Lucks feel as if the most exciting and noteworthy writing lurks in the unlit depths of the ocean, amid the lifeforms and creatures humanity was never meant to see. It’s our goal to be the vessel—the nuclear submarine—that helps these new life forms breach the repetitive ebb-and-tide of this metaphorical ocean’s surface.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Published by Lake Superior State University, Border Crossing shows just how vibrant a small journal can be. Many of the poems stand out, but it’s the first two lines of George Bishop’s “Watching Dolphins In the Harbor With the Homeless” that really stand out in my mind: “I found myself / carving silence into a shelter.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 23
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The worst part about The Briar Cliff Review is that it only comes out once a year. The journal, published by Briar Cliff University (Sioux City, IA), is packed with uniformly excellent work. Editor Tricia Currans-Sheehan managed to find poetry, prose, and artwork that are technically sound and satisfying to a wide range of readers.
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  • Issue Number Volume 31 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In her editor’s note, Anna Schachner talks a lot about her vision for the re-visioning of The Chattahoochee Review and “the need for awe.” With this issue, Schachner has demonstrated the accomplishment of this vision. The Spring/Summer 2011 issue of The Chattahoochee Review is stuffed with work worthy of the word “awe.”
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  • Issue Number Number 44
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of Fiction International welcomes “deformity in all of its guises,” a description pulled from James Carpenter’s story “Extravagant Meanings.” In this story, a writer looking for literary fodder starts a shelter for troubled souls. He describes his “house of freaks,” as I’d describe what you’ll find in this issue of FI: “The physically infirm, the congenitally twisted, the morbidly obese and the anorexic and the bulimic, the mentally ill and mentally handicapped, the morally confused, the addicted.” It’s intense reading, to say the least. The plots are fast-paced and adventurous, and many of the stories’ lasting impressions are, on a human level, unsettling. It is also one of the more formally challenging and innovative journals I’ve read in a long time.
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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Fifth Wednesday journal explores “the idea that contemporary literary and photographic arts are essential components of a vibrant and enduring culture.” This commitment to a “vibrant, enduring culture” is, in other words, a contemporary milieu of writing that allows the reader to explore fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, interview, and book reviews bound together under the auspices of Fifth Wednesday’s commitment to contemporary writing. This issue is like an abstract tapestry collage of stories and poems that—at first glance—seem to have very little that weaves the pieces together. On second glance, you realize it comes together simply by being interesting and vibrant.
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  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The poems in this issue of I-70 had a certain flow not always found in literary journals—or even single-author collections, for that matter. It is a feature made even more remarkable given that the work here is presented alphabetically by the author’s last name.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date December 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
What are the connections linking these three stanzas?
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  • Issue Number Number 70
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It’s difficult to pick just one short story as a “favorite” in The Louisville Review’s 70th issue. I’d much rather suggest that a disproportionate number of them are beyond good and deserve accolades. However, a few stood out especially.
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  • Issue Number Volume 55 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In "Mothman's Guide to the Here & Hereafter" Mark Wagenaar says, "All language is survival.” "All language is the revelation of our essence." This 33rd prize issue of Nimrod cries out yes! yes! look here! in affirmation of Wagenaar's lines. Every year, Nimrod awards the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry; Amy Bloom and Linda Pastan were the 2011 judges for these respective prizes, and the results are breathtaking. Even the non-prizewinners are winners, offering evidence of our survival beyond time, in language that sings the essence of temporal humanness. A few examples:
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  • Issue Number Issue 13
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The wintry cover of the 2011 issue of Prism Review projects two RVs squatting on a frozen landscape under an ominous clouded sky. I liked it immediately, and it urged me to open and begin reading. The editors at the University of La Verne (California) dispensed with any editorial pleasantries and let their contributors' work spill forth from the get-go.
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  • Issue Number Volume 46 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Puerto Del Sol is always inviting. The volumes flex and relax into the hand. Art wraps around both front and back covers. Inside, readers will find prose, poetry, and reviews from familiar and new writers alike. This issue of Puerto Del Sol contains the winners and runners-up of the Puerto Del Sol Fiction and Poetry contests, judged by Dawn Raffel and Julie Carr, respectively. Let me tell you, these ladies know how to pick strong, well-crafted writing.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10 Issue 1
  • Published Date September 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Forgive me. For some reason, I was expecting delicate. Reserved. Stuffy. Polite. But my assumptions about a journal of “metrical works, including well-rendered blank verse, sonnets of every variety, villanelles and triolets” were way off. The Raintown Review is kind of a badass.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Lyrical essays and poetry rely upon the power of metaphor and associative thinking to create a deeper, more personal interpretation for the reader. The writers in this issue of the Seneca Review walk a fine line, hoping to tickle the reader’s imagination while providing enough detail to ground the piece in something resembling the real world. Most of the time, the authors are quite successful, providing delicious food for thought.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Dubbed “The Transitional Issue,” this first issue of Toad Suck Review, based at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), follows the demise of the Exquisite Corpse Annual, which ended when founder and editor Andrei Codrescu retired. The team at the helm aims to carry on the Corpse's “experimental sense of humor and international enquiries” while at the same time staying true to its central Arkansan roots. With gaping shoes to fill, the Toad Suck crew delivers an impressive first shot of literary whiskey.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date May 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
It’s 424 pages long, weighing in at a chunky 1.75 pounds; Vlak cannot be called a little magazine. It is a literary magazine, though, launched from Prague and flashing through the reader’s consciousness like a bullet train. With works from eastern and western Europe, Australia, North Africa, and the United States (and a single nod to Brazil), the issue brings together ninety writers and visual artists.
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