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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted April 15, 2013

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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Picking up this issue of Beecher’s Magazine is like sneaking into a speakeasy and becoming part of a very cool, very exclusive club. The gray cover of the perfect-bound journal is distinguished by a gold squiggle and a round cut-out that only reveals the issue’s number. It seemed to me that the whole Beecher’s team was on the same gold-edged page; the fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art chosen by the editors is just as mature and inviting as the journal’s design.
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  • Issue Number Issue 7
  • Published Date March 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Brevity Poetry Review publishes—what should be obvious from the title—short poems, all coming in at under 30 lines. Each issue puts forth just 10 of these short poems, giving more weight to each one. And this issue contains no mediocre poems; they are all worth reading.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Before reading Chtenia: Readings from Russia, my only experience with Russian literature was in college, where I read Chekov’s “The Lady with the Dog” and Gogol’s “The Overcoat.” I fell in love with these stories and realized that I needed more Russians in my life. Chtenia satisfies with its wonderful selection of fiction, poetry, and essays from Russian authors both past and present. The winter 2013 issue is a special treat because it is dedicated to all things dark and scary in Russian literature. Senior Editor Tamara Eidelman writes:
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Appalachian State University’s Department of English publishes Cold Mountain Review. The western North Carolina institution is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the town of Boone, and, yes, the town was named after Daniel Boone. His pioneering and exploratory spirit persists in the editorial stance of Cold Mountain Review, which is “interested in the way contemporary literature is testing the boundaries of genre” and “features work intended to transport the reader to unexpected landscapes—emotional terrains that are sometimes joyful, occasionally disconcerting, always interesting.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’ll be honest: revision is not my favorite part of the writing process. (I like to think I did it right the first time, even though that’s clearly not the case.) draft is special because it occupies an interesting place in the literary journal scene. Instead of rewarding the polished version of stories and poems with publication, the journal rewards the process by which writers make their good work even better. There are only two pieces in the journal: a short story and an excerpt from a book of poetry. Each piece is presented in an interesting manner: the final version is presented on the recto of each page, directly facing the draft version on the verso.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date January 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Ghost Ocean Magazine publishes some of the best poetry and short prose; as far as long prose goes, they say, “Just don’t waste our time.” Published on their website in an easy to navigate and read format, the writing feels cohesive, like it really does belong together under one roof.
  • Subtitle New Writing on Justice
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  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
One of the poems I keep coming back to in this issue of J Journal is Judith Skillman’s “Estrangement.” I like the care and precision with which this fierce poem about old age is constructed. I like its John Donne-like metaphors and the way it broadens out from the senses to far-flung and historical references; from “Long nights / sleepless, punctuated by sleet,” to “the city seven hours south of Paris // called L’Age . . .” to the “second century martyr Perpetua, / coming now into the arena / to be mauled by lion, hyena, and laughter.” And I like its seemingly tangential relation to this journal’s stated purpose—in the words of the editors, “to gather creative writing under the justice banner.” Read in any other journal, it might not trigger associations to questions of justice. But its inclusion here enriches it with an existential dimension—what is “just,” after all, about growing old?
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
We all know the jabberwock, Lewis Carroll’s monster with its eyes of flame, riffling through the tulgey woods and burbling as it came. The story of the jabberwock “fill[s] [Alice’s] head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are.” We might say that read-worthy literature is all like that, filling our heads with images and sounds whose meanings reach far beyond their mundane expression. I imagine that’s where the title of this journal, created by students and faculty of the Department of English at Mississippi State University, wants to point us: beyond our daily routines, into relevant, effective words that revise our ordinariness.
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2012/2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The history of millions in one cold breath, one empty train station, one terrifying silence. This issue of The Manhattan Review plants us in the aftermath of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and then attacks it mercilessly from the individual, not the statistical. Those who lived to deal with the silence, to inhabit neighborhoods forever changed, move on.
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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 3
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Mississippi Review, edited in Hattiesburg, printed in Brooklyn, and disseminated worldwide, does not accept unsolicited work, but its winter 2013 compilation is diverse, as though culled from every doorstep in this hemisphere, and the next. I found myself acutely aware of the language in the journal. You can have rich ideas but spare prose, and for me, when you have both you have discovered something rich and renewable. The takeaway is clear; buy two copies, so you can draw exclamations in the margin of one and keep the other pristine.
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  • Issue Number Number 125
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
How could one resist picking it up! Who, after all, could resist such a title? “The Disquiet of Men: in which we skirt tragedy, watch marriages wither, and seek direction while riding the rails.”
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  • Issue Number Number 12
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I hear women’s voices when I read this magazine. I should: this is a “140-page, perfect-bound, all-women’s literary journal published annually by the University of Alabama at Birmingham”; every voice is a woman’s. But I didn’t expect to feel such a bond, such a connection, and I was unexpectedly moved as I read: these writers know how I feel, they live my life, they speak my language. I teach fiction writing, so I went to the story section first. Every story made me smile with recognition and appreciation, and each one left an echo in my mind, an impression I carried around with me as I do with the best literature—a new way of perceiving my ordinary world, no longer ordinary, thanks to these women writers.
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  • Issue Number Number 17
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
A Public Space showcases a splendid selection of stories that balance plot, pacing, and literary innovation without sacrificing what makes classic short fiction remain essential. From the first story in the volume, “American Lawn” by Jessica Francis Kane, to the last, a translation, “Something in Us Wants to Be Saved” by Patricio Pron, the reader glides through the narrative. There is enough drive in the stories, metered without sacrificing the thrall of language, to make you read endlessly, wanting to know the end, but letting the powerful pacing direct your review—allowing all truths in its own time.
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  • Issue Number Volume 121 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
War is a constant throughout human history. Even now as I write this review, North Korea is threatening all-out war with South Korea and the United States (even though they have technically been at war since 1953, but we won’t get into that). The latest issue of The Sewanee Review examines all the facets of war in its collection of fiction, poetry, and essays. From the battlefields of the distant past to the conflicts of today, the authors in this issue examine the heavy cost of war and the impact it has on those who survive.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
All the bad, bad boys. You sort of wanted them to fraternize with each other—take the sociopath Greg from Erika Wurth’s short story “Freight Train” and introduce him to the Matthew/Luke character (trust me, they are merged in the story too) from Graeme Mullen’s memoir of creating a community art project, then place them under the suicidal tutelage of Ilya Leybovich’s eponymous ‘suicide artist’ flailing for good fortune in the Upper East Side. I wanted the characters to meet each other, and that is how you know that even the surreal ones are thoroughly alive.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Spry is a new literary journal that claims to be a place “for people who excel at taking risks.” And certainly, even in their very first issue, they have succeeded with this.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date March 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Star 82 Review puts forth its first issue, filled with sections titled “Shorts,” “Postcard Lit,” “Art Post,” “Erasure Text,” and “Hidden Gems.” I wish this magazine well, because they are already publishing great work.
SWAMP is an online magazine that exists to feature the writing from postgraduate creative writing students. Edited by postgraduate writers, it is a great community for these students.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
Tongue doesn’t claim to provide any answers, to provide stories that reveal them, but the editors “revel, instead, in poems and art at ease with a kind of ambivalent vulnerability.” And as I read this issue, I certainly felt that.
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  • Issue Number Volume 87 Number 2
  • Published Date March/April 2013
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
World Literature Today always packs an exciting table of contents, one that makes me want to spring up off my couch and catch the first international flight. I see the shining achievement of WLT in the editors’ ability to balance what is innovative and cutting edge with what is well established and relevant. Its unique content distinguishes it from most mainstream literary magazines, giving it vitality and spunk. This special double issue treats photography as a modern narrative form. Featuring twenty-one photographers, the spread beautifully illuminates many intersections between literature and photography.
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