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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted March 18, 2013

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  • Issue Number Number 76
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
You know you should have bought a subscription to a magazine when you learn, one issue too late, that the editors were going to host a retrospective on Robert Lowell (AGNI 75). Or when, casually perusing the issue at hand, you discover apparitions of Ray Bradbury (see David Huddle’s piece), Cynthia Ozick (see Tamas Dobozy channel Harper’s The Bloodline of the Alkanas), and Allegra Goodman (see Wendy Rawlings’s ending channeling La Vita Nuova). The perceptible echo from these influences emerges from talented writers in their own right. And that’s just the fiction.
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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date January 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
The Blue Route is a national online journal for undergraduate students. This issue offers writers from Carnegie Mellon University, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Susquehanna University, University of Colorado Denver, University of Houston, and University of South Florida. The writing is of high quality and is enjoyable to read.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
In her editor’s note, Sara Rauch hopes that this issue will “bring the bright and wild and unusual into your spirit this winter.” Certainly, there are images such as these throughout the issue that bring a little warmth to my room: “there lies me and you sitting on the floor / with a bucket of strawberries, whipped cream . . .” (Shannon Shuster’s “alright  .”); “standing at the water’s edge / leaning against the night breeze / taut as harp strings for balance” (Ned Randle’s “Lake Song”); “When I was younger I would wait / for the first bloom of the blackberry / thickets and collect berries in a mason jar” (Matthew Wimberley’s “Indian Summer, Reading Lorca”); and “The heat pins my shirt to my skin like a silver star” (Arah McManamna’s “Cactus Flower”).
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  • Issue Number Issue 47
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“Don’t write like a girl. Don’t write like a boy. Write like a mother#^@%*&,” the Rumpus columnist “Sugar” advised young writer Elissa Bassist in 2010. Bassist took the advice to heart, making it into an “anthem and a lifestyle” that is about “quitting your bitching, getting out of your own ego, and getting to work.” Three years later, she and “Sugar”—now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things, extend the discussion in an email conversation that appropriately kicks off this powerful collection of work by women writers.
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  • Issue Number Issue 67
  • Published Date March 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
For something truly original and definitely a break from the normal online journal, take a look at Danse Macabre. Not only is the writing a break from the straight literary, but the images and the layout are as well. The style, as described by Editor Adam Henry Carrière, is “noir coloratura.” Enter this issue, “Terra,” and be greeted by a skeleton who is about to cut down a tree with an ax, be greeted with a type of march song played on the organ.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Event is a Canadian literary journal associated with Douglas College in British Columbia. While they primarily publish poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and reviews from Canadian writers, they do accept submissions from all over. Their aesthetic seems broad ranging, with an inclination for stories that have a hint of the mysterious or unconventional.
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  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date January 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
If I had to come up with a certain way to describe this issue, it would be that it is about reminiscing, of looking back into the past and either wishing to return to that time, or just appreciating it for what it was.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 1
  • Published Date January 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
I’ve always loved flash fiction for its brevity, its ability to, as they say, “pack a punch” in such a short space. Each sentence bears weight. Well the poems in this magazine close that circle a little tighter; here, each word, nay, each syllable bears tremendous weight. Each poem must be four lines or fewer and cannot contain more than twenty words. Similar to the idea of the six-word story, these poems must convey imagery, idea, insight within a small space. For the most part, all of these pieces accomplish that goal.
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  • Issue Number Volume 23 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Freefall bills itself as “Canada’s Magazine of Exquisite Writing.” Their mission statement commits to publishing 85% Canadian content, ranging from new and emerging to experienced writers. The editor’s opening statement, written by Micheline Maylor, describes an opposition to demolishing Al Purdy’s A-frame house, asking: “If muscle has the ability to remember, then why not a wall, a house, a landscape?” Her preamble continues, “For what is this life without a little magic?” and sets the tone for the creative work that follows.
  • Subtitle A Journey of Literary & Visual Aids
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  • Issue Number Volume 12 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Illness, arguably the direct or indirect source of human suffering, prostrates us all. Accordingly, theories of illness and healthcare form an uneasy truce for such icons as Karl Marx, Pope John Paul II, and Ayn Rand even though their philosophies would diverge on many other topics. Moreover, one might argue that the management of limited medical resources has become the preoccupation of our age. But when you are sick, philosophies fail; you seek mercy, and sometimes the voice of that mercy comes from literature. The Healing Muse, a journal produced by The Center for Bioethics and Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University, offers a platform for such voice. As editor Deirdre Neilen notes in her introduction to the journal, “The land ahead may be unfamiliar territory, but the same humor, resilience and desire propel our poets and essayists and their characters to chance the unknown and to chart the journey for us.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 49 Number 5
  • Published Date December 2012
  • Publication Cycle Five Times
Spare, elegant, and graceful, The Hollins Critic descends like a belle of the upper South on bibliophiles starved for beauty. Fittingly, this publication emanates from the first women’s college in Virginia, an institution with a proud tradition dedicated to creativity and “effective self-expression.” The accomplished artist Susan Avishai, after decades devoted to the international study and practice of art, entered Hollins University in 2001 to pursue a degree in creative writing. Between writing seminars, she painted in Hollins’s studios, and since 2004 has contributed a striking pen-and-ink cover portrait to each issue of The Hollins Critic. Avishai’s art perfectly launches the reader into the fierce economy of its unique format, its passion for literature, and its flair.
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  • Issue Number Volume 14 Number 6
  • Published Date Special Issue 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Strong fiction does not have an expiration date. You can leave it on a shelf for centuries, but it will never lose its potency or the sense of joy it instills in new readers. The 2012 thematic issue from Iron Horse Literary Review celebrates the strong fiction of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne by showcasing three of his most popular stories: “The Minister’s Black Veil,” “Young Goodman Brown,” and “The Gentle Boy.” The issue celebrates his fiction, but it also reexamines his work through the eyes of three prominent women authors. There is a heavy dose of irony here because Hawthorne dismissed women writers of his time as “scribblers” of market fiction. The result is a terrific issue juxtaposition of Hawthorne’s voice and voices of contemporary women writers.
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  • Issue Number Volume 55 Number 4
  • Published Date Late Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The 2012 Late Fall issue of The Literary Review is out of control. No, really, the issue is dedicated to loss of control. “Control is an abstraction and a grail,” says Editor Minna Proctor. “Humans are driven to maddening distraction, dangerous and untenable lengths, in pursuit of control. We don’t ever get control, yet we hunt it.” The writers in this issue contribute a great selection of fiction and poetry that examines this hunt and shows how easy it is to lose control.
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
One of the many pleasing things about this issue of The Missouri Review is the design of the magazine, easy to hold in the hands, with a neutrally-colored cover and larger-than-usual font. Easy on the eyes, gentle and pleasant.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Here is what to like about the Summer 2012 issue of New Haven Review:
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  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
The New River is certainly a river off of the mainstream. It’s a collage of digital media, journalism, and writing.
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  • Issue Number Issue 40
  • Published Date 2012-2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The Paterson Literary Review only arrives once a year, but leaves a lasting impression. This Passaic County Community College-based journal boasts 400 pages of poems, stories and essays and could easily keep you occupied during several intercontinental flights. In her editor’s note, Maria Mazziotti Gillan declares one of her primary motivations for selecting work from the 10,000 submissions the PLR receives each year: “I attempt to be inclusive of the work of writers from many races and ethnicities, choosing what I believe to be the best works.” She certainly achieved her goal; the journal balances the experimental and the traditional, the personal and the universal.
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  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Enter Shadowbox’s site and you’ll see a shadowbox filled will several objects. Clicking on the image of the flowers will bring up this issue’s featured writing. It brings up a spice rack, each bottle containing a spice of life, if you will. Dedicated entirely to all forms of creative nonfiction, Shadowbox presents a collection worth reading. Some pieces are in the traditional essay form, while others stray quite a bit, opening up new ways to see creative nonfiction.
  • Subtitle Creative Nonfiction + Art
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  • Issue Number Volume 14
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The editors of South Loop Review invite “essays and memoir, lyric and experimental forms, non-linear narratives, blended genre, photography and art . . . personal essays and memoir with fresh voices and new takes on presentation and form.” I reprint the description for emphasis. The magazine is not feigning interest in the experimental. Rather, essays appear (in Micah McCrary’s case) as meditations on color through a list format, toy with a redline feature as a method of managing conflicting emotions (as in Adriana Páramo’s case), and explore what one might term the “meta-essay” through the careful tides of stating and redacting comments about what illness can signify (see Vicki Weiqi Yang’s essay).
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  • Issue Number Issue 4/5
  • Published Date 2010/2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The body of great literature being created outside of the English-speaking world is vast; St. Petersburg Review is taking great strides to bridge the gap between cultures and languages that sometimes keep writers and readers apart. The thick volume is jam-packed with fiction, poetry, plays, and creative nonfiction plucked from everywhere in the world. A great deal of the work has been reflected through the prism of translation: a double-edged sword. Reading work in translation is, in some ways, like seeing a great painting through a pair of cracked eyeglasses. You can see the whole of the work and take it to heart, but there will always be some measure of intellectual distance between you and the artist. On the other hand, translations such as these are wonderful because you get a taste of the different music made by phrases that emerge from minds trained to think in unfamiliar languages.
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  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Temenos, the journal of Central Michigan University, is a Greek word that “refers both to the ancient Greek concept of sacred space and the Jungian ‘safe spot’ where one may bring the unconscious into the light of consciousness.” The editors say that their mission is to “bring to light works that are engaging, memorable, and fearless.”
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