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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted August 15, 2012

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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 4
  • Published Date July/August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
The latest American Poetry Review has an immensely quotable essay by C.K. Williams “On Being Old.” In it, he says he doesn’t “blab” about poets whose work he doesn’t like. He once, to his current chagrin, dismissed the work of the great Elizabeth Bishop. He writes, “I think we all tend to believe we can see through the vagaries of our moment to some absolute standard of judgment—this must be a characteristic of human consciousness itself—but the conviction is absurd.”
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  • Issue Number Numbers 50 & 51
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If I had to choose a metaphor for the 2012 issue of Artful Dodge, I’d liken it to one of those brown paper grab-bags they sell at the dollar store. You know the ones—unmarked and mysterious, they could contain something awesome just as easily as they could contain something you could just as well live without. This issue is a huge literary grab-bag, containing a wide assortment of essays, fiction, poetry, and art spanning a varied range of themes and subject matter. Some of the work is surprising, gripping, and moving, while others, not quite as much.
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  • Issue Number Volume 18 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In Atlanta Review, it’s all poetry, all the time. No visual art or prose (save for the editors’ introductions and contributor notes) finds its way into this journal. With all this space, the editors will consider up to five poems by a single author for a given issue, and they take pride in publishing the works of both new and established authors. The editors evidently prefer brief works and excerpts: in such a small space, 59 poets (in addition to Kabir, Tukaram, Akho and Nandeo, who turn up in translation) and 92 poems appear. On its website, the journal is described as “a haven for our common humanity, the things that unite us across the boundaries of nation, race, and religion.” Each Spring/Summer issue therefore devotes space to literature from a single nation.
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This issue sizzles, ignites, burns, and lights a literary fire with the special theme of “Heat.” The contest winner, Ann Cwiklinski, contributes a third-person narrative about a woman who takes her children for a day at the beach, but she cannot relax as she is constantly on the lookout to keep her children safe. Yet, as the sun blazes down on her, she is drawn to the water. She wants to take a swim by herself and perhaps disappear. Titled “Selkie,” this story came from Cwiklinski’s research about Irish folklore: “These weren’t romantic fairytales, but matter-of-fact stories about some local woman who jumped into the sea one day, her mild eccentricities finally making sense to her neighbors: ‘Shoulda known that she was part seal!’”
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  • Published Date August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
With no more of an introduction than “It’s not all sunny skies and lake breezes. Deal with it. And read the new issue of Blue Lake,” this issue dives in with mixture of poetry, fiction, and essays.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Conclave is a journal that revolves around strong characters in poetry and fiction, so don’t let the lady on the cover of the latest issue scare you away. Think of her as a concierge waiting to show you to your room. But this isn’t your typical hotel. Here you will rub shoulders with guests from out of space and time. Some of these guests are (or were) real people staying for the night while others come from the imaginations of talented writers.
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
While I’ll admit that the three poems from Anne Barngrover are what initially drew me into this issue, there was so much more to keep me there. The whole issue of Contrary is filled with pieces containing delightfully juicy details, taut images, and unique ideas.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In May of this year, my pregnant daughter’s friend lost a baby two weeks before its due date. My daughter sobbed the news to me via cell phone, gasping, “I feel so guilty that I’m still pregnant!” Five weeks later, two days after she gave birth to a healthy girl, I dismounted badly from a horse; my blown knee collapsed under me, and I knew, horribly, that my grandmothering summer was over, faded into surgery and rehab.
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Fox Chase Review covers a wide range of poetry in which there is probably a poem for every one of us. While I didn’t love all of it, there were certainly several poems and poets in this issue that I loved. Stevie Edwards contributes two poems that really hit me in the gut. First is “What I Can Say I’ve Left, What I’ve Mourned”:
I have a soft spot for university literary journals. Maybe it’s because I have a closer connection to these folks because I was a college student not too long ago and know what it’s like to wade through the slush pile in a tiny room at night with only a Snickers bar to keep me going.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Garbanzo is out to break some rules. I find this refreshing in the relatively staid world of literary magazines. Perhaps it’s my background in zine publishing that makes me sympathetic to those willing to buck the trends. First of all, this inaugural issue comes handsomely clothed in a silkscreened dust jacket. How many lit mags have you seen lately with a dust jacket, silkscreened or not? That’s what I thought. Garbanzo is also bound with fancy rivets and includes an attached ribbon bookmark (a thoughtful and handy feature). On the inside there are a few fold-out pages, and even some handwritten poems that nicely break up the otherwise printed text. So, this is a nice-looking publication, a labor of love. I can’t help wondering how long the editors will be able to maintain this level of quality for their limited run print editions (they also publish a digital version), but I will suspend my doubts for now.
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  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Sometimes we look to the canon for context: the depression era philosophies and legacies of John Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe, Pearl S. Buck. Would an American imagination have been materially different absent James Hilton, Sinclair Lewis, Edna Ferber? What if the novels of A.J. Cronin or William Faulkner remained galleys buried on the literary cutting room floor? I approached my reading of this issue of The Gettysburg Review with the canon as context; that is, does the literature in a climate of economic downturn answer similarly situated voices from the dustbowl terror of the mid 1930s? Not exactly. The truth may lie in other comparisons—perhaps an awareness of the hysterical faith-based tomes that characterized the literature of the climax of the Roman Empire, the deoxyribonucleic acid of other revolutions, a monk’s blood. In sum, I found The Gettysburg Review to stand on its own, neither an answer nor echo of the past but rather a collection of talented men and women who have unique stories to tell.
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  • Issue Number Number 37
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
A good poetry journal is like one of those good coffee-table photography and art books. You can open them to any page and find something so thought-provoking that you are carried away and forever changed (NOTE: This is one great challenge of a paperless world). The editors of the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review have certainly accomplished this. HSPR has been around for more than thirty years and has had just two editors. Since 2008, the review’s second editor, Nathaniel Perry, has done an excellent job of picking up where Tom O’Grady, the founding editor, left things when he retired. In the past, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review has published the work of a Nobel Laureate, several Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, and two U.S. Poet Laureates.
  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Several of the poets included in this survey of “Voices in German” were familiar to me. The Expressionist Ernst Stadler, killed in battle in World War I, is represented by three evocative landscapes translated by Martin Sheehan and William Wright. Gertrud Kolmar, who disappeared in the Holocaust, mourns a child “(n)ot born because of my sins.” Her moving poem “Fruitless” is translated by Sandra Dillon.
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  • Issue Number Issue 30
  • Published Date August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
This issue, themed 21st Century Cosmic Cool, was excitedly announced by the editors to be released on the same day as National Sponge Cake Day. In a newsletter, they even shared a gif in celebration, telling readers to come read the “spongiest litmag on the internet.” Although, spongy isn’t exactly the word I’d choose to describe this issue. La Petite Zine isn’t soaking up every poem it encounters, only the interesting, fresh, and arresting poems.
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  • Issue Number Volume 51 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
An inherent complication arises when writers (or editors or critics) consider the meaning of “place” in literature. It’s certainly true that an author is influenced by the geography and communities that shaped him. It’s equally true on another level that people are the same all over, filled crown to toe with the same hopes and fears. This issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review contains pieces that are accented by the flora and fauna and hardy inhabitants of the Great Lakes region. The contributors indeed communicate the unique feeling of being lost in the Minnesota prairie while tapping into the pathos that unites us all.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue of New Delta Review (NDR) features the winners of the 2012 Matt Clark Prize in Fiction and Poetry and Creative Nonfiction Contest. This contest is in honor of Matt Clark, a coordinator of creative writing at Louisiana State University that died from colon cancer at the age of thirty-one. “Fascinated by tall tales and urban legends, Matt was in the process of inventing a new kind of Southwest magical realism, part Mark Twain, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In his honor, NDR sponsors the Matt Clark Prize in fiction and poetry.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I can’t speak for anyone else, but the New England Review represents so much of what I hope to be when I grow up. In addition to choosing high-quality fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction to represent the present and future of literature, the New England Review also features scholarly material that puts the writing of the past into context.
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  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Open Minds Quarterly, whose subtitle is “The poetry and literature of mental health recovery,” is a welcome contribution to the growing body of discourse by and about “consumer/survivors of mental health services.” OMQ is a project of the Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA) based in Ontario, Canada, whose purpose is to “eliminate stigma” by informing “mental health professionals, fellow consumer/survivors, and their family and friends—as well as society at large—of the strength, intelligence, and creativity” of its authors. A small, glossy, 8 1/2 X 11 journal, OMQ is a showcase for persons who have stories to share about mental illness; it’s not a literary feast. But it’s worth reading, and submitting to, especially if your concerns coincide with NISA’s.
I have been reading this issue of Plume now for a couple of weeks, each time going in to reread the poetry, catch parts of it I might have missed. Each piece has its own unique pull, making this issue of Plume one for everyone. But as a monthly magazine, a new one will be our shortly, so make sure to read this one soon.
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  • Issue Number Volume 86 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Although not the leading story in the Summer 2012 issue of Prairie Schooner, Justin Taylor’s “Flings,” is the one that seems the most summery, as it takes place in that in-between time of adjusting to life after graduation, soon after a group of friends leave a “semi-elite liberal arts college” in Ohio. The story follows each of the friends individually, as they make their ways to Portland, Oregon, bumbling through the friendships crossed with the romantic entanglements that define post-collegiate life. Many of the characters are vaguely artsy, with Andy working on an epic novel, and two of the female characters having internships in an experimental film festival, before “rapidly learning the extent to which they had overestimated their interest in experimental film.” Taylor’s writing excellently explores the confusion of this period of life, when one is trying to define one’s self in the world, as well as the narcissism that can come with a headlong pursuit of the arts. He understands the messy, crisscrossed relationships of a tight-knit group of friends right out of college. His writing is tinged with a sense of humor about the overly sincere and serious.
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  • Issue Number Issue 17
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
After falling behind for a small amount of time, The Puritan is now back up and running, this time with a new reading format. Available to read online or as a PDF, this issue offers a number of poems, fiction pieces, and interviews. The magazine features writing that “may push toward the symbolic frontier, challenging limitations and forging into previously unexplored aesthetic territory. But it may also revisit and revitalize traditional forms.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 7 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
r.kv.r.y includes fiction, poetry, essays, and shorts all on the topic of recovery, incorporating characters that are recovered, are in the process of recovery, or need to start recovery.
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  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 4
  • Published Date July/August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
Ragazine.cc is chock-full of pieces to feast your eyes on: art, photography, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, interviews, reviews, and columns. There are two great poems by Nicole Santalucia. The first, “Emptying Out the House,” drew me in with the first three lines: “The only thing we found under her bed / was a note taped to the bed frame / that said who should inherit the mattress.” And her poem “What Stands Behind Me Now” has wonderfully captivating images:
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 2
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Room’s website describes it as “Canada’s oldest literary journal by, for, and about women. Published quarterly by a group of volunteers based in Vancouver, Room showcases fiction, poetry, reviews, art work, interviews and profiles about the female experience. Many of our contributors are at the beginning of their writing careers, looking for an opportunity to get published for the first time.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 17 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
They say not to judge a book by its cover, but to be honest, I do it all the time. Of course the work in a journal always ends up speaking for itself, but I’d be lying if I said first impressions didn’t influence the way I approach new lit mags. In this case, between the title and the cover art, Salamander had me feeling a bit uneasy.
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  • Issue Number Volume 29
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The allure of the Spring 2012 issue of Salt Hill starts with an enticing cover, a black and white illustration by Aaron $hunga where a character named “Mr. Rhombus” is told to get ready “to enter Xenocave.” More of $hunga’s graphics detail a fantastical story in the concluding entry in Salt Hill. As if that graphic wasn’t enough of a warning about the kind of fiction contained in this issue, the editors’ note reads, “The twenty-ninth issue of Salt Hill is evidence of how capricious and flimsy our perceived world is, how gray and clouded the separation between phenomenological reality and the science fictions looming behind it. Or in front of it. The fantasies stuck between its dark matter. Either which way, the work in this issue pursues out-there dimensions.” Perhaps because of this dipping into strange avenues, the best work in this edition is the poetry, as well as amazing artwork done in ink on paper by Faye Moorhouse.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Snail Mail Review prides itself on being a print magazine that maintains “mail-only interaction” with its writers. Interestingly, although this magazine revels in the virtues of print, one main reason that it attains the amount of quality work as it does might be because of its online presence. Although the magazine is amateur-looking (they hope to move from saddle-stitching to perfect-binding soon), Snail Mail Review is professional in the way that it belongs to LinkedIn, has a Facebook page, Gmail address, and many calls for submission on literary websites and blogs. These calls work. In the introduction to this issue, Editor Christine Chesko writes of a gigantic stack of submissions sitting on a chair in Co-Editor Kris Price’s house.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Perhaps it’s only my personal attention span, but I believe that focused collections of any art can be easily perused and set aside for any number of reasons. A collection of one type of literature or art must be read or looked at one piece at a time and held for reflection. A combination allows for any mood and many returns. Such is the Still Point Arts Quarterly’s summer issue and their idea to showcase their current site exhibit.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
After only seconds on the site, what immediately drew me in was the scrolling images of art by Trent Manning—who works with mixed media and recycled materials—and Jon Rodriguez. In an interview with Rodriguez, the Tampa Review Online asks about the inspiration behind his “seemingly tragic” characters, to which he replies “Each character has their own distinct traits that reflect different aspects that mirror where I’m currently at in life. Some are hopeful and some are tragic. These characters act as a way to share a deep truth about myself, in hopes of helping people see a truth in them.” And this is certainly true for writers as well as we pick up on our own lives and emotions to inspire our work.
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  • Issue Number Volume 24 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
A great literary magazine is one that makes you think and ponder and take several moments out of your busy life to just appreciate art and life. Thema offers some absolutely remarkable writing that grabbed me and forced me to sit and reread several times. I found myself thinking about the economy, relationships, writing, reading, art, and even the galaxy at large.
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  • Issue Number Volume 57
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Nearly 50 years ago, a few poets gathered near Princeton, NJ, to read their poems to each other. According to the editors of U.S. 1 Worksheets, this small group of poets formed the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative, and many of the original poets are still involved in the Cooperative and continue to submit to the journal, which is headquartered in the Princeton suburb Kingston, NJ.
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  • Issue Number Issue 12
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
The Wag’s Revue certainly offers something different, writing and art that you won’t find in most journals. In the editors’ note, they say, “What we’re saying is what art has always said: insert yourself (fingers, tongue, then pulsing heart) through us to discover what warm depths lie beyond. We just want to get your brain wet. Call us crazy for trying.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 3 Number 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Watershed leans in the environmental direction, at least in this issue. Given that it’s a journal celebrating the Susquehanna Watershed, this makes sense. The issue includes poetry, narrative nonfiction, and an oral history focused on contemporary Native Americans living in Pennsylvania, a state that doesn’t currently recognize any existing Indian tribes within its borders (yes, there’s some bitterness there, as expected). Black and white photos dress up the text of this slim volume.
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