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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted September 18, 2012

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  • Issue Number Volume 14 Number 3
  • Published Date August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
The amazing thing about online literature is that in order to put together an issue, the staff of a magazine doesn’t really have to be in close proximity. In fact, the founders of Amarillo Bay say that they haven’t lived closer to each other than 100 miles—and now live nearly 2,000 miles apart. Jerry Craven and Bob Whitsitt put out their first issue in 1999 and are now in their fourteenth year of publishing. This issue contains a wonderful collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
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  • Issue Number Issue 7
  • Published Date July 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Assaracus, a journal dedicated to providing a stage for gay poets and poetry, is a part of Sibling Rivalry Press, which also prints Lady Business: A Celebration of Lesbian Poetry. Rather than including a slew of writers in each issue, Assaracus introduces about a dozen writers, each with a short biography, and then dives into a several page spread of their work. This really allows the reader to get to know each individual writer in depth, rather than just giving us a quick taste.
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  • Published Date September 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
With a selection of two poets and two pieces of fiction, this issue of The Bacon Review offers a spotlight on four writers, giving all of the writers the focus they deserve.
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Issue 64
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
You will love the most recent Bellingham Review on a microscopic level; you will love it on a macroscopic level. You will find considerable literary achievement down to the expert punctuation. The writers in this journal have a mastery of plot and a quiet rebellion of framing stories in segments. When reading this journal—as long as you aren’t in a subway—you will discern almost aurally a powerful philosophical clarity.
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The editor’s note of this issue of Blue Collar Review reads, “We must not allow ourselves to become demoralized or cynical because to do so would be suicide. As poets, we must reclaim our culture and its narrative of community, solidarity and social conscience, recognizing the power of culture in defining our identity and vision.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
With this issue, I started backwards, working my way from the bottom of the table of contents on up. After I read the creative nonfiction and the fiction, I couldn’t wait to move on to the poetry. This issue is filled with solid writing that breaks the boundaries of traditional writing and that surprises by heading toward cliché and then rocketing away from it.
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  • Issue Number Issue 40
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Semiannual online
In response to the results of the VIDA Count (which counts the male to female ratio in publishing—I’ll let you guess which gender got the shorter stick), Brevity decided to put out a special issue called “Ceiling or Sky? Female Nonfictions After the VIDA Count,” which focuses on “the important contribution of female writers to the creative nonfiction movement.”
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  • Issue Number Number 11
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published twice a year, Cave Wall is dedicated to publishing the best contemporary poetry it can get its hands on. This family-run magazine is based out of Greensboro, North Carolina. I was fortunate enough to attend a reading where Editor Rhett Iseman Trull read her own poetry and participated in a Q & A. She was down to earth and intriguing, just like this edition of Cave Wall. The issue includes black and white art by Dan Rhett that compliments the poetry very well.
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This issue of DMQ Review displays an excellent assortment of contemporary poetry, all arranged with artwork from Margeaux Walter. Many of the images are gif images of people who move and interact with the scene. The poetry is diverse from humorous pieces, to political ones, to lyrical ones.
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  • Issue Number Volume 14 Number 3
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This issue of the internationally-renown literary journal is dedicated in memory to Virginia Spencer Carr who had passed in April of this year. Dr. Carr left a brimming trove of literary scholarship in her decades as a writer, researcher and professor, including what is considered her masterpiece biography: “The Lonely Hunter,” about Carson McCullers who was often critically classified as a Southern Realist. McCullers, Carr, and this journal share an affiliation—formal or otherwise—with the American South, including but not limited to Georgia State University, which sponsors Five Points, and where Dr. Carr taught for over two decades.
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  • Issue Number Volume 23 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This magazine’s name was recently changed from The Flagler Review (which is now its subtitle) to FLARE, and the content of this issue sparkles in ways that justify the title. In addition to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art, FLARE includes screenplays/plays as a regular feature.
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  • Issue Number Issue 37
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
I will admit that Twitter is somewhat of a new phenomenon to me, and I really only use it for work purposes, but the hash tag culture has me intrigued. When I discovered that FRiGG’s summer issue was entirely Twitter themed, I antcipated some laughs—and I wasn’t disappointed. In the editor’s note—appropriately titled “#WhatIsThis?”—Ellen Parker says, “most people on Twitter aren’t writers. (Which I love.) At least, they don’t know they’re writers. But you should see some of these people’s tweets. They’re brilliant. . . . All of the contributors here call themselves writers, and they were selected because the people I know online tend to be writers, but I want to make it clear: I love many people on Twitter who do not call themselves writers.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Susan McCarty’s short fiction “Another Zombie Story,” in this issue of Indiana Review provides a flash of imagination that affirms hope in the midst of disaster. In ten linked thematic sections that are at times funny or ominous (but always insightful and compelling), the narrative warbles on a mysterious landscape, plays upon a portfolio of expectations and emerges resilient as the main character discovers love (and garden vegetables) against a backdrop of loss and instability. It is tightly drawn, lovely against an imagined—but all too real—wasteland. And isn’t darkly dramatic like other literary depictions of a wasteland: it rejects the nihilism that would characterize a wasteland; it teases along those shorelines and splashes right out of the water with a musical laughter you can hear through the pages.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of The Kenyon Review sustains the journal’s well-deserved reputation as an elite, erudite vehicle for criticism, fiction, and poetry. It opens with a long essay by distinguished philosopher and essayist George Steiner. “Fragments (Somewhat Charred)” consists of philosophical observations on, or circling about, aphoristic phrases allegedly appearing on a charred scroll found in Herculaneum. Steiner deconstructs, linguistically and semantically, eight of these—phrases like “When lightning speaks it says darkness,” and “Evil is.” Of “When Arion sings why do I weep?” Steiner says “[it] encapsulates a perennial fascination by the powers and effects of music in Greek sensibility. An uneasy inquiry into the penetration of sung and instrumental music into the human psyche.” Later in the essay, he continues, “We know of no human community that lacks music. . . . Could a musical experience be the only human encounter with time made free of temporality as we know it in biological and psychological processes?” Such questions intrigue us; the effort to explore them deeply constitutes a rare offering.
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  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
As far as inaugural issues are concerned, The Liner’s maiden voyage couldn’t have gone much smoother. The journal includes short fiction, poetry, art, and photography along with an original questionnaire that corresponds to each author bio.
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  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 1
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In journalism, the number of inches designated to a story or part of an article would be considered as political as the words themselves. In this way, excluding coverage was the best offense, and the arrangement of objects, ideas or celebrity becomes a politics of space. I enjoyed this issue of Louisiana Literature: a Review of Literature and the Humanities, affiliated with Southeastern Louisiana University, because of some of these kinds of editorial decisions that relate to a particular politics of space. The issue’s judicious arrangement of poems and stories become miles of ink dedicated to the issues central to our lives, not just the parents and the lovers and the dumpster divers, but to those miles of shoreline splashed with oil, against a decimated New Orleans skyline.
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  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Normally, I like to review journals that I’ve never heard of. I love discovering new or less-acknowledged publications, mining foreign territory for literary gold. I try to stay as open as possible to new writers and new journals, and while what I find isn’t always great, it’s something unexpected every time.
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Only on its fourth issue, Moonshot is a relatively new kid on the block in Brooklyn’s indie literary scene. Eighty-five pages long, the themed issue “Correspondences” offers brief introductions to 30 authors—all of whom have been published before, but don’t yet have major name recognition. As alluded to in the editor’s note, this issue is gritty and real.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle online
For an online publication, Penduline offers a massive amount to read in flash fiction, sudden fiction, prose poetry, and short fiction. This issue, themed "WTF?," contains strange, but entertaining stories, no doubt aimed to make you say, “WTF?”
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
Poecology, for me, was a return to the earth, to nature. The poems, dealing with crops, rivers, apples, bugs, sparrows, and summer squash, made me want to go outside, lay down in the grass, and breathe in the fresh air. Of course, instead, I sat in my house, cuddled with my cat, and finished reading and writing from a digital screen, but for brief moments, it was nice to be transported to a place outside my suburban home.
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  • Issue Number Number 13
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Skidrow Penthouse’s website assures us that their magazine does not contain homeless people in suggestive poses (sorry to disappoint). They also assure us that their magazine is not “hospitable to eat-shit-shower-and-shave writing, or any kind of literary undertaking that aspires only to disturb the flaccid ghost of Bukowski.” It is a journal that specializes in absurdist literature and art, offering a “home for wayward voices, insect souls, architects of gutter, a place to hide one’s rain.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 49 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
When I first received my copy of South Dakota Review, I took one look at the cover—a photograph by editor in chief Lee Ann Roripaugh of roller derby queens “Olive Mayhem,” “Lady Boop,” and “Sandra D’vious”—and I knew I was in for a treat.
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  • Issue Number Issue 13
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
I have never lived in the South (aside from the first two years of my life in Texas, which doesn’t count), and I certainly don’t know anything about Alabama, but this Birmingham-based magazine that strives to “provide a vehicle through which Alabama artists and artists from elsewhere can connect and find common ground” doesn’t seem foreign. In fact, it accomplishes its goal of uniting writers to a common ground.
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  • Issue Number Issue 7
  • Published Date Autumn 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Reading StepAway Magazine is taking a stroll down the streets of a city, though you’ll never know which city is next—it is all determined by the writers. StepAway Magazine is “hungry for literature that evokes the sensory experience of walking in specific neighborhoods, districts or zones of a city.” Each writer must do this in 1000 words or less.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
I read this issue throughout the week entirely from my phone, in bed, before I fell asleep and started dreaming. It felt appropriate as all of these long stories contain an element of dreaming; some of the stories incorporate it more while others just mention a dream that the character had. Yet as much as these stories contain surreal and dream-like elements, the stories are about much more than fantasy.
  • Subtitle A Literary Confection
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  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 1
  • Published Date September 2012
  • Publication Cycle Semiannual online
The editors of Sweet say, “We want you to find something here that you need, something perhaps not as practical as a potato, but just as vital.” In this issue, I found something I “need,” and I found it in Anne Haines’s poetry. Contributing three poems, she was able to reach out of her poetry and capture my attention, stirring up feelings that I didn’t know I had. In “Night Language,” the middle stanza stands out:
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  • Issue Number Number 10
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Amsterdam’s Versal is a thoughtful collection of sophisticated, inventive writing and art. For the celebration of their first ten years, the editors included a mixed media art piece titled “750 Circles” that is a blank page with a balloon taped to it. Each of these pages is signed by the editors. The piece, they say, is to honor the many people who have made the last ten years possible. Small flourishes of creativity like this appear throughout the journal, making it not only a collection of great writing, but a united reading experience.
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  • Issue Number Issue 109
  • Published Date July 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In the July 2012 issue of Verse Wisconsin, co-editors Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman stress the importance of community, and everything about the print and online issues of the journal point to the wisdom of their claim. Before moving to Madison, Wisconsin in 2009, Verse Wisconsin was published by Linda Aschbrenner for 11 years as Free Verse. Aschbrenner continues to serve on Verse Wisconsin’s advisory board, along with B. J. Best, Cathryn Cofell, Ron Czerwien, Tom Erickson, Fabu, David Graham, Angela Rydell, and Marilyn L. Taylor. In other words, Verse Wisconsin is a celebration of community and poetry.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Whitefish Review takes their readers away from the comforts of civilization and into the wilderness with this issue. Editors Cristina Eisenberg and Brian Schott made a call for submissions that “explore the untamable and wild in astonishing ways.” Over 40 writers, artists, and photographers answered this call, offering literature and art that “explores wildness in all its incarnations and paradoxes.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Attempting to chronicle a war is a massive literary undertaking, but trying to piece together a cohesive narrative about a half dozen or so combat zones from the poems and short stories of 17 different authors sounds like, well, hell. I’m a Vietnam-Era veteran, and even though I was never in combat, I was close enough to it to know that literature rarely captures the truths of war and the combat zone.
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