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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted July 17, 2012

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  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 4
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle online
The 2River View’s current issue contains poetry that moves, most of which ends to make me feel unsettled, as if I need to sit there, take a deep breath, and ponder before rereading—because they are definitely worth a second look. S. L. Alderton’s “The Last Gas Station in Iowa” ends, “As she crosses the asphalt / toward the brink of cloud, it seems // that the van could roll a little further, / and fall off the end of the world.” And Peter Street’s “Another Sideline—1957” ends with “he’d throw them in / and I would watch // someone’s pet melt into nothing.” Carrie Causey’s poem about purgatory invokes feelings of being stuck:
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  • Issue Number Volume 29 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Given my interests, while there is much to be said for the literary content of this publication, the focus on this review will be on the photography in this thirtieth anniversary issue: a special section consisting of 141 stunning glossy pages of photographs and brief essays commemorating “Liberty and Justice (For All): A Global Photo Mosaic.” From guest editor Benjamin J. Spatz’s introduction to the project:
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I should start by saying that I’ve been holding a grudge against apt for some time now. It turns out that if you don’t read their guidelines very carefully and submit something out of their reading period, they send you a very snarky e-mail. I’m not a fan of snarky e-mails; in fact, they kind of hurt my feelings. So I had vowed to hate apt forever.
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  • Issue Number Volume 13 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Carve Magazine’s summer issue invites the reader into three delightful and thoughtful short stories with its cover which features a girl with sea-green hair holding a miniature merry-go-round of horses. The cover, by Alessandra Toninello, “ties [the] stories together in a fitting way,” says the editor’s note. “It’s rare that an issue’s stories and photo come together in such a synchronous way. I can’t help but feel a bit of magic pulled this issue together too.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 56 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The Chicago Review remains one of the best eclectic reviews; its pages are continually full of essential reading. Packed with a consistently broad range of diverse and challenging writing, every issue delivers one surprise or another, and the latest doesn’t disappoint.
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This issue is full of illusions as the characters in the stories break down their misconceptions and face reality—or, instead, continue to live in them. In "The Bathroom window"by Ivan Overmoyer, the narrator imagines a great scene outside the window, only to be disappointed when he/she actually opens it. Ned Randle's "The Amazing Doctor Jones" portrays an old man who hasn't adapted to the new medicine practice but still believes the way he does things is the best. And then Pan Pan Fan literally deals with illusions as the narrator stares at "The Woman in the Mirror
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  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Since 1956, the Colorado Review has been dedicated to publishing the best in contemporary creative writing from both new and emerging writers, and the Spring 2012 issue is no exception.
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  • Issue Number Issue 58
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Conjunctions is a slippery, difficult journal, and its current issue, “Riveted: The Obsession Issue,” is no exception. As is par for the course with Conjunctions, the writers appear heavily vested in a particular attention to language, with extremely idiosyncratic patterns and constructs of thought. Although ostensibly clustered around a theme, their writing offers broad interpretations of various obsessions that run the gamut from the expected to the unexpected, the probable to the improbable, the tangible to the intangible.
  • Subtitle A Literary Repository for the Ages
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue of Defunct, a nonfiction magazine, sparked a piece of my childhood—memories of Saturday mornings when my brother and I would litter the floor with Legos, watch Pokemon on T.V., and munch on bowls of Honey Nut Cherrios. Sonya Huber’s “Legoland” reminisced about the days when Lego characters all had the same face. “The little yellow faces,” she writes, “smiled a sort of inward parenthesis. They felt their feelings but the faces were all the same calm smile: man, woman, killer, child, seven heads stacked in a freakshow parade.” She compares these to the Legos that her son now plays with; each of the characters featuring the latest Indiana Jones or Harry Potter movie. As she says, “This is his Legoland now.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 3
  • Published Date July/August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
This issue of Eclectica is a bursting collection. From the poetry to the prose, I was enthralled, spending hours reading. My favorite piece, “Sasha, That Night” by G. K. Wuori, told the story of a woman named Sasha who has a special ability that she cannot always control: she is a “hydraulic vigilante.” She is able to manipulate liquids, causing them to move, or boil, or freeze.
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  • Published Date July/August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
elimae's individual stories and poems may be small, but they all have a zing. Leia Penina Wilson asks about loneliness as the character bottles up her own loneliness and muses, "what do you do with a city that's all a secret she wonders do we even / exist?"
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  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Grain: The Journal of Eclectic Writing is based out of Canada and prides itself on publishing challenging writing and art each quarter. This issue includes the winners of the 2011 Short Grain contest.
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  • Issue Number Issue 15
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Here are five reasons why High Desert Journal continues to be one of the best “regional” literary magazines around.
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  • Published Date July 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
For this issue, make sure you strap on your rocker boots because it’s all about the rock ‘n’ roll. As their first themed issue, the editors say that this month they have “turned Hippocampus Magazine into a mixtape of creative nonfiction.” In essays and memoirs about rock ‘n’ roll experiences, the contributors write about personal influences of Pink Floyd (“A Piece for Assorted Lunatics” by Anne); concerts of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (“Long Time Gone: September 27, 2010” by Shelia Grace Stuewe); and obsessions with Steve Tyler (“Stone Cold Fox” by Melanie Malinowski). But no matter which rock artist the writer gushes about, one thread seems to bind them all together—the power music has to invoke memory.
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  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
On the whole, the poetry in the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Iodine: Poetry Journal is “poetry of witness,” a term put forth (if not created) by Carolyn Forché. Not every poem is dark and foreboding, however, but the journal is filled with wounds that beg to be healed, even if it hurts to do so. After all, isn’t that the essence of iodine, the tincture, to begin with?
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  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Let’s call it “folk art.” It’s certainly folk literature. It would be chic to call it urban myth, but I call it my history. Who doesn’t remember the sand man and the boogie man? I feel sorry for them. Then there’s the wahoo man, and the weird aunt and the uncle who . . . The Journal of Ordinary Thought is just that. My neighborhood, my people. It’s not just a trip down memory lane; it’s decent literature, in the language of the people I grew up with, speaking to me about many of the events that we experienced and that you’ll enjoy reliving.
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  • Issue Number Issue 18
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle online
Lisa Williams’s “Becoming Again a Threshold” captures a feeling of being stretched over a decision, over time, over space—a sense I get from the poetry in this issue:
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date July 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Nothing more deliciously speaks for this issue of Mixed Fruit than Anne Barngrover’s poem “The Closest I Mean to I Lust You.” Tantalizingly fresh in language and sound, Barngrover uses food to express the narrator’s lust:
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I usually try not to pigeon-hole magazines into a theme, but with this issue, it’s difficult not to do so! Clearly, there is a bird theme flapping its wings in this issue, from the multi-media “Penguins” cover art, to the more than a handful of stories that were cleverly pecked and then nestled together in this charming and diverse journal. And it just so happens that many of my favorite pieces of the issue were the ones which involved birds.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The Ocean State Review’s debut issue features the work of writers who presented at the University of Rhode Island and/or its Ocean State Summer Writing Conference, and includes art, poetry, fiction, nonfiction and craft essays.
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  • Published Date July 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
In writing this review, I struggled to find a thread that sews all of the pieces together, but then I realized that perhaps it doesn't need that. The pieces in this issue stand apart for themselves, in the excellent narration, the witty lines, and the way they portray life's uncertainties. Anthony Moore's "Speak Memory" was easily my favorite; the narration in it had me chuckling to myself. The narrator is in the process of writing as the story develops, commenting on the writing and metaphors he is using—sometimes pointing out the flaws in them and trading them out for new ones. The story itself brings up questions of memory as the couple's baby has nightmares. Their doctor says that the baby doesn't have any memory beyond eating, sleeping, and pooping once it falls asleep. Yet, she still wakes up every night screaming and crying. Paul, the father, takes steps to insure that he won't forget anything.
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Issue 2
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In this issue’s introduction, which Editor Brad Fruhauff has entitled “Literature by Necessity,” Fruhauff reminds us that a rich literary diet “[confronts] some of the hardest realities of our time” and “will ask you to feel grace for a strung-out drug addict as well as for a cynical woman dealing with her abortions . . . to be merciful with an adulterer and to re-live the death of a childhood friend. These pieces," says Fruhauff, "are not safe.”
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  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Brian Johnson takes over as the editor of Sentence in this issue, and if his first issue at the helm is any indication, this journal won’t miss a beat with the change.
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Megan Alpert opens this issue with a wonderful poem called “Blueprints,” which starts, “Move into a house where love sleeps / next to you, hiding in a mouth all night / long . . .” I was intrigued with each turn of the line, my heart breaking with the last of them:
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  • Issue Number Issue 36
  • Published Date June 6, 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
As always, SmokeLong Quarterly serves up a heaping plate full of appealing flash fiction; I couldn’t wait to dig in. “Ameilia Fucking Earhart” had me laughing—and easily disturbed—throughout as a young couple discovers an old skeleton wearing an aviator hat. Deciding it must be Amelia Earhart, Elias picks up the skull and has his way with it—both humorously and sexually:
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  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
The thing I immediately noticed about SNReview is its online format—clean and crisp. It doesn’t attempt to use a lot of graphics or design, which is actually really working for it: black type, in an easy-to-read font, on top of a white page. Alternately, each piece can be viewed as a PDF with active links to previous issues and the website. Beyond the format, this particular issue’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry delivers so that the graphics don’t have to.
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  • Issue Number Issue 17
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Spillway, an independent, semiannual journal based in Orange Country, California has been around since 1993. But, Editor Susan Terris remarks in her editor’s note that it’s only been in recent years that Spillway became a themed journal.
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  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 4
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The summer issue of Tin House: cue an essay on “miserablism”—not in music, as Simon Reynolds once used to describe Morrissey and other gloomy Manchester bands but in fiction, as Gerald Howard employs in an essay on the “Merritt Parkway Novel.” More on that later, but let that brief introduction to this issue suffice to say that this isn’t exactly light-hearted beach reading. Who wants that anyways? The editor’s note says, “Consider this summer reading as providing a few grains of sand in your suntan lotion, a little bit of grit to remind of you the depth and breadth of the human condition.” So, let this Tin House do just that—give a dark, realistic, take on summer reading.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Only on their second issue, the editors of Treehouse are off to a great start. Called an “online magazine for short, good writing,” this issue of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry does justice to its tagline.
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  • Issue Number Volume 12 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If you like literature that looks, sounds, smells and tastes like Mississippi Delta blues and jazz, then Valley Voices: A Literary Review, published by Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU), would make a nice addition to your library. This issue celebrates the journal’s 10-year anniversary with a collection of what Editor John Zheng calls “the best creative works, poetry and stories, Valley Voices has published.” This issue is evidence that the journal has long lived up to its stated dedication to promoting the works of MVSU students and the cultural diversity of the Mississippi Delta through writers from the Delta, while maintaining standards of excellence in poetry and prose.
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  • Issue Number Volume 28 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Excerpts from Jean Donnelly and John Olson could be used to sum up the style of work in the latest issue of Verse, a magazine that publishes chapbook-length submissions. Donnelly’s “Some Life” begins “read poems to know / how to live,” and midway through switches to the abstract
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date July 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Different from traditional stories or poems, these pieces offer up small slices of life that are not necessarily whole stories but vignettes that absolutely invoke emotion, doing so in a small amount of space. I barely put down my pen the whole time I read as I took down notes and wrote down quotes.
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  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In the poem “A Figure Half Seen,” published in the latest issue of The Wallace Stevens Journal, Dennis Barone writes that, when Wallace Stevens left an exhibition of the work of the artist Jean Arp,
  • Subtitle The Magazine of the Black Mountains Institute
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  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Witness is, according to the editors, “an internationally recognized journal that blends the features of a literary and an issue-oriented magazine to highlight the role of the modern writer as witness to his or her times.” A publication of the Black Mountain Institute of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, “an international literary center dedicated to promoting discourse on today’s most pressing issues,” this issue’s theme is “Disaster.” As the description suggests, the magazine is provocatively responsible (yes! one can be both!), of consistently high quality, and, in this issue, ruthless. The world is more full of disaster than you might want to know.
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