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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted October 16, 2012

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  • Issue Number Volume 26
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
6X6 is an eccentric little number, a mini-compilation of avant-garde poetry. When you pick up the most recent issue of 6X6, titled “Enough About Pigs,” you know you’re in for a party. The journal is slim and funky, its bubble-gum pink cover accented with red letters and held together by a nifty red rubber-band for the binding. This poetry magazine, published by Ugly Duckling Presse, is a chapbook like no other, displaying the innovative work of six poets.
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  • Issue Number Volume 43 Number 169
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Although The Antigonish Review is partially supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture & Heritage, the publication does not overreach into a philosophical or political interpretation of the American experiment. Some might imagine that public funding could encourage specific response at the expense of story, but these stories, essays, and poems are not exclusively about Canada and Canadians. The issue is rich with diverse elements—such as references to Tunisia, teenage nihilism, mortuary science, and Egypt. The writing is disciplined, and because of this convention, I can carry the magazine everywhere; it is a talisman against lost time. And that’s the best symptom of clean prose—the ability it affords the reader to weave in and out of the narrative without feeling lost.
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  • Issue Number Issue 29
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Arsenic Lobster is a great concoction, a boiling pot of poetry that fizzles and pops. The poetry pokes, it prods. Cristofre Kayser’s poem asks “Was there ever a knife that did not cut?” And Jeanne Stauffer-Merle’s poem tells us that “The mouth of wind is jagged and hanging and / cold and cold . . .”
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  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
What a find Big Fiction is! The magazine publishes only three to five “shorts” or novellas of 7,000 words or more, bound in a beautiful hand-designed letterpress volume of just the right size: perfect for a weekend away, an afternoon of rich leisure, an evening curled up by the fire. This issue is a delight to hold, to view, to read carefully. The editors’ intention of visual and tactile beauty aligned with literary delectability is fully realized. The green, tastefully mismatched typography of the title takes up a small top left corner of the white cover, which is filled with a red etched fiddlehead fern. “No. 2” takes up minimal space in the bottom right corner, and in the title corner the image of a young fiddler playing unobstrusively.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Clockhouse Review’s best quality is that you don’t know what to expect. You’ll read a traditionally formed story about family dynamics, and then you’ll read a fake academic paper about medieval witches. Weird, but refreshing. Although CR boasts the usual suspects (poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction), it also features some unusual suspects such as graphic narrative and drama. Although it’s awesome to see these forms in literary magazines (more, please), I don’t think I’m the best judge of their quality. Truthfully, I find graphic narratives bizarre; although I can say that the one in this issue (“Stomach Hole” by Mike Mosher) is truly fascinating in its bizarreness.
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  • Issue Number Number 81
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Crazyhorse is full of interesting, off-beat writing, as befits a magazine with the journal’s oversized design.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Dogwood has returned to print after a year’s hiatus with Sonya Huber as the new editor. Huber aims to take this university magazine in a new direction with an online presence and the inclusion of creative nonfiction alongside their usual offerings of fiction and poetry. Readers won’t be disappointed with this restart. This issue features solid writing and the winners of the 2012 Dogwood Awards, with special guest judges Katherine Riegel and Ira Sukrungruang.
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  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Enizagam is a breath of fresh air in the literary world. It proves that you don’t have to hold a master’s degree in order to enjoy, edit, and critique good literature. The young students at Oakland School for the Arts edit this literary magazine written by adults and for adult readership every year. Though it is a highly esteemed magazine, I had never gotten the pleasure of reading it until this issue, and it sure didn’t disappoint.
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  • Issue Number Issue 45
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
failbetter.com is an online magazine inspired by the quote from Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” After a short break, they are now publishing again. This issue of failbetter.com offers two stories and two poems.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Fiction Fix offers a large issue (so please forgive my not-so-mini review) filled with many different types of fiction. Some are more traditional stories, while others offer their messages by incorporating images and drawings.
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  • Issue Number Number 252
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
There are enough apt images in this magazine to build a new world whole. In three of its quarterly issues, The Fiddlehead publishes short fiction: not here. Here you’ll find reviews of Canadian literature, as is usual in the journal, but then in addition, purely poetry—enough to populate your mind with figures and tropes and patterns of sound until winter comes to call. The Fiddlehead (a reference to a fern unfolding) is, according to its website, “a veritable institution of literary culture in Canada.” Published in New Brunswick for over 65 years, it is “a regional magazine with a national and international reputation.” Especially if contemporary poetry interests you, it’s easy, in this issue, to see why.
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  • Published Date October 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
First of all, I have to say that I’m not sure if Gemini Magazine has a web version or not, but the layout was perfect for mobile reading. I had no problem reading the entire issue from the comfort of my bed and my iPhone. I even had a chance to finish up reading the issue while sitting at a restaurant, awkwardly waiting for my friends to arrive.
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  • Issue Number Issue 84
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Founded in 1990, the glossy literary magazine Glimmer Train Stories showcases mostly emerging talent and hosts a bevy of contests to help cull those voices. I did not appreciate the fruits of their model until I read this issue, which carried me cover to cover, through a labyrinth of sound, structure, and emotional and literary sophistication.
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  • Issue Number Issue 50
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Hayden’s Ferry Review announces itself immediately as an important publication, and not just because of its justifiably stellar reputation. This twenty-fifth anniversary issue boasts a top-shelf list of contributors, and the journal itself is heavy and substantial in the hand. This issue puts a special focus on the “artifact,” an object with “unique meaning both within its context and apart from it.” This focus is explicit in the issue’s reproductions of artifacts from notable writers, but is also implicit in many of the poems and short stories that fill the rest of the pages.
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  • Issue Number Issue 73
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The rawness, dissonance and clamor of contemporary American urban life are present in several fine poems in the latest issue of Hiram Poetry Review.
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  • Issue Number Number 15
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Knock is published bi-annually by Antioch University Seattle and has lots of flavor and flair; it is comprised of poems, fiction, essays, excerpts from books, interviews, and some fantastic color art and one hybrid piece. It must have been difficult to choose which artists' and writers' names would be featured on the cover as this issue shocked me with a tremendous amount of quality work. The editors certainly live up to the expectation of publishing “cutting edge” writing.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date Autumn 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Lowestoft Chronicle is about travel, but it’s not necessarily a travel log. The characters in the stories, in the poems, are on journeys—journeys in physical space or journeys in the heart and mind.
  • Subtitle The Valley Review
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 2
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Meat for Tea is a quirky little journal from western Massachusetts that showcases fiction, poetry, and art of eclectic taste. Themes jump around from absurd, realistic, and even to a small taste of science fiction in a blend that is peculiar yet satisfying, like bacon in earl gray or pork in green tea. You get the idea.
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  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
The cover image for this issue of Menacing Hedge—“A Tree” by Alexander Jansson—is a perfect intro to what you’ll find inside. The image features a tree house I’d definitely like to climb up in, with a collection of empty picture frames, lanterns, and odds and ends hanging from the branches of the trees. It’s odd, it’s magical, it’s unique: truly representative of the work inside.
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  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This magazine is one that features women writers all over the age of 60. The editors write, “Too often older women’s artistic work is ignored or disregarded, and only those few who are already established receive the attention they deserve. Yet many women are at the height of their creative abilities in their later decades and have a great deal to contribute.” This magazine’s mission is endearing, especially to me as my grandmother didn’t even start writing until she was in her ‘60s. It’s nice to see a magazine that showcases this type of work.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 3
  • Published Date October 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
After seeing the cover of Pithead Chapel—a colorful collection of birds amongst flowers and plants—I expected something a little different. I’m not sure what, but I somehow expected stories of nature, or stories that were calm, and safe. But what I got was a different kind of surprise.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
I’m sure, as writers, we sometimes feel compelled to write a letter to someone—as a way to organize our thoughts and say it “just right”—rather than try to explain what we are feeling or thinking out loud. This issue of Poemeleon is titled “The Epistolary Issue.” Each of the writers in this issue uses this form of poetry in different ways, some even explain it with a short intro.
Flash pieces are often my favorite to read (and write), so when I came upon this brand new magazine, I simply had to review it (after delightedly sharing it with my fellow flash fiction lovers). Quickly publishes pieces unbound by genre or form, so long as they can say what they need to say in 703 words or fewer.
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  • Issue Number Volume 18 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The name Rattle for a poetry journal interests me in the way that names of things often do. There is the death rattle, a baby’s rattle, rattlesnakes. There are people’s minds rattling off the hinges, people’s cages being rattled, and people rattling their own cages or those of others. It could be said that the best poetry rattles our nerves. A little bit of all of this is represented in this issue of Rattle, the death rattle perhaps more than the rest. If I had to pick one poem to represent the issue it would be Rohan Chhetri’s “Not the Exception.” The narrator appears to recently have come close to death and speaks of it in matter-of-fact yet insightful ways. The final lines struck me as boldest:
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Revolution House, as the editors indicate, “is the brainchild of a disparate group of writers who came together during the tumultuous early months of 2011, when the MFA application anxiety was high and the lows were lower than low. We had a dream of a sprawling farmhouse, a place where we could all escape the dragging monotony of reality. But it’s difficult to find a house with fourteen bedrooms, so we ended up here instead, building platforms to launch other dreams.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
The Rusty Toque, now in its third issue, is churning some solid butter. And instead of having just the traditional poetry, fiction, and nonfiction categories, The Rusty Toque publishes comics, monologues, art, and even videos. There is room in this home for a lot of different work.
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  • Issue Number Volume 24 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of the Santa Monica Review starts out with a bang—literally.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue of Sleet Magazine is a mash up. Inside there is a knitting monkey, a speaking octopus, and an affectionate doe and buck; there are plastic dolls, cymbal crashes, and “Peter Pan teeth”; and amidst all that, there are also pieces with more serious subject matter.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Storm Cellar is slender literary magazine—this issue is less than 30 pages—whose website advertises “a special emphasis on the Midwest.” The cover is catchy, a colorful curiosity of overlapping images. Flowers and faces mix among abstractions, and it all looks a bit like wallpaper from the neon ‘80s. Despite the inclusion of only three pieces of fiction, one of which is no longer than a page, and poems by five authors, this issue of Storm Cellar holds up as an interesting, varied read.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date October 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This month, Sundog Lit opens the pages of its very first issue. Including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, it hosts a bevy of writers, both established and new. Editor Justin Lawrence Daugherty writes in his note that this issue accomplishes what they hoped it would; “it burns retinas.” If there is one piece that stands out as “burning” my retinas, it’s definitely “Caul” by Jenna Lynch. It was, well to be honest, gross (if you don’t know what a “caul” is, look it up), but even though it is eerie and not pleasant to picture, it’s insightful:
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  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date July 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Editor RW Spryszak begins this issue of Thrice Fiction by addressing the misconceptions some have with regard to “micro fiction.” Spryszak rejects the notion that flash fiction is “experimental” and has a very good point. “Experimental” implies that a piece isn’t fully formed “or that the writer doesn’t know what they’re trying to get at . . . by the time something is ready for public viewing the experiment should be over.” The writers whose work is represented in Thrice Fiction make use of the toolboxes of both poets and short story writers to create stories that are as emotionally potent as they are brief.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date September 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
The highlight of this issue of Umbrella Factory was definitely the very first piece, Kristin Faatz’s “The Guardian.” I can sometimes get sick of stories from the perspective of children because I’m often bothered by the language of it or the way that their perspective doesn’t add to the story. But Faatz does an excellent job of allowing us to sympathize with the main character, Leah, and her thoughts seem to mirror a child’s quite well. Written as a close third-person and broken into sections, I was hooked as the story developed into one where Leah has broken a picture frame of her mother and her father, her father which “left” them years ago. The narrative shows how this child understands her world and how she is able to cope with the pain she has already had to endure at such a young age. But because it is written in the third person, we are able to step outside her world for a moment and see what happened to make her father leave, the story she doesn’t know about. The sections were excellently woven together to build very round characters and a round story.
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  • Issue Number Issue 70
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Having somehow never heard of Willow Springs prior to this issue arriving on my doorstep, I was excited by the caliber of the authors listed on the cover: Amorak Huey, Kathryn Nuernberger, Roxane Gay, and even an interview with one of my all-time favorites, Tim O’Brien!
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  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This was the first issue of Zone 3 I’ve read cover-to-cover, and I was pleased with what I found. It’s an impressive, well-chosen collection of poetry and prose. Beginning with the narrative nonfiction, in “Puttanesca,” Kerry L. Malawista finds comfort in a special dish her friend made and brought to her following her daughter’s death. It is a straightforward and powerful piece that addresses and celebrates a simple gesture of humanity in the face of tragedy.
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