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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted July 15, 2013

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  • Issue Number Number 40
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the Birmingham Poetry Review presents readers with a special feature: six poems and an interview with Pulitzer Prize winning, former Virginia Poet Laureate, Claudia Emerson. The six poems demonstrate her range and proficiency as an acclaimed American poet; from her historical poem “Virginia Christian,” a narrative of the “first female electrocuted in the state of Virginia in 1912,” to the “Lightning” sonnet that brings us to the electric moment when the poem’s persona “hears the strike that splits the pecan tree,” readers are treated to language that at once is immediate and powerful.
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  • Issue Number Volume 19 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Theophrastus wrote that the root of Oleander when mixed with wine makes the temper gentle and more cheerful. While Theophrastus never got the chance to read The Bitter Oleander, he surely would have had similar sentiments about what reading it could do for a person. The Bitter Oleander strives to provide readers with deep, image-driven work that will “open eyes to a world our habits and blindness ignore everyday.” This issue is a testament to that goal.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 5
  • Published Date May 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’ve never eaten a cactus before, but I hear that it’s very good once you make it past the prickly exterior. Editor Sara Rauch of Cactus Heart magazine explains on their website how literature and art should be like the succulent interior of the desert plant: “It should shock and wound and delight us; it should fill us with delight and terror and mystery. It should survive.” This issue is their first print issue, and it is certainly a delight to read.
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  • Issue Number Volume 57 Numbers 3/4
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Chicago Review is “an international journal of writing and critical exchange published quarterly.” And they are not falsely advertising; it really is just that. This issue is jam-packed with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and discourse on ecopoetics that takes the reader around the globe in 218 pages. From first page to last, the reader is kept engaged and moving. If anyone is looking for a reference on how to organize and put together a journal, this issue of Chicago Review is it.
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  • Issue Number Issue 81
  • Published Date June 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
Trapped somewhere in between literary fiction and science fiction, Clarkesworld publishes fiction and nonfiction that is either science fiction or fantasy in nature, though I think it’s fair to say that the pieces offer more than just a good adventure.
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  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Concho River Review, published by the Department of English and Modern Languages at Angelo State University, presents a strong list of talented writers in this issue. Most of the prose and poetry here revolve around country life or the outdoors, but these are not the unifying themes of this journal. The only connection is solid writing “from Texas and beyond.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 78
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Nimble language and arterial ideas spur this volume of Cutbank, although the thematic diversity and innovative riffs of the journal make any sweeping introduction to the volume impressionistic. The journal veers from the fantastic to the postmodern, crossing the continental (two widely disparate counts of Paris) to the nuclear (stories warbling on familial love and deception.) This issue reflects the editorial organization and voices of many worlds—be it that of a Youngstown Lolita or the fractured narrative of someone seeking the seamless whole after anorexia.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Published by Platteville Poets, Writers and Editors, LLC—“an organization dedicated to showcasing the works of emerging and established writers whose creative journeys have in some way brought them through the  Driftless Region”—Driftless Review is a brand new online journal, this being the inaugural issue which features poetry, prose, and visual art.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 3
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
The Fiddleback editors say that their mission is cross pollination; “We believe in mixing and colliding artistic disciplines to attract a diverse readership and promoting work that asserts itself.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 67 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Georgia Review consistently delivers the best of contemporary fiction and poetry. Given its hefty reputation, it is no surprise that this issue is packed with high-quality writing from established authors. But above all else, this issue is an investment in Mary Hood, whose feature consumes two thirds of the journal. You may have never heard of her. I hadn’t. Hood is a southern writer whose history with The Georgia Review dates back to 1983, and whose fiction has been published in Harper’s Magazine, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, and more.
  • Subtitle The Journal for Writers
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
What sets Grist: The Journal for Writers apart is its “commitment to the writer’s occupation.” To begin with, three interviews with working writers provide appealing insight. Then there are two craft essays, one on metaphor in poetry, one on time in fiction. Mostly, there are 148 pages of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction (no book reviews or criticism) of exciting quality. And don’t miss the online companion, a smart nod to the online presence all writers, these days, must have.
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  • Issue Number Volume 25 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Gulf Coast Editors Zachary Martin and Karyna McGlynn claim in their editor’s note that while many literary journals announce themes in advance, they are partial to “themes that announce themselves gradually.” In “The ‘Issues’ Issue,” we see the effects of that thinking: a vibrant collection of prose, poetry, and art diverse enough so that you forget about theme while reading, only realizing much later how subtly and cohesively each piece fit into the issue, binding the journal together.
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  • Issue Number Issue 17
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’m a lifelong city-dweller, and reading High Desert Journal reminds me of one of my favorite experiences in travel: immersing oneself in a new normal. High Desert Journal “is a literary and visual arts magazine dedicated to further understanding of the people, places and issues of the interior West.” The key word is “understanding,” broad enough to encompass myriad means of expression, and at the same time narrow enough to tamper attempts at the pedantic or the exotic. There’s nothing fancy about the journal. The horses, rifles, ranches, and cowboy aspirations in the stories are not packaged as the stuff of artistic ambition, but rather parts of ways of life. The artwork and images bespeak the dedication of the journal to perpetuate the expression of the various understandings of this part of the world. For someone visiting from outside the region like me, High Desert Journal is a proud and easy-going host.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date May 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Contemporary fiction often ignores or pushes aside gay themes. That’s why it’s wonderful to have a journal like Jonathan; it spotlights what is generally left gathering dust. A journal dedicated to gay men’s fiction, Jonathan is captivating from page one. More than most journals, it reads like a chorus of voices; the ten narrators of Jonathan’s fiction are vulnerable. They are strong and insightful.
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  • Issue Number Issue 32
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Literal sets out to “provide a medium for the critique and diffusion of the Latin American literature and art,” and, at least in this issue, it is heavy on critique. Unlike the majority of literary magazines I am familiar with, most of Literal consists of short critical articles, with subjects ranging from a Picasso exhibit, to Philip Roth’s retirement, to social movements in Spain and Mexico. Its pointed reader is probably bilingual: while many pieces are presented with side-by-side Spanish and English versions, some are not, though the magazine offers English and Spanish translations of the others upon request.
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  • Published Date June/July 2013
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
The London Magazine (TLM) upholds a high standard of tone, diction, and point of view. The oldest cultural journal in the United Kingdom, TLM began publication in 1732; it has published a list of writers that includes Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats, T. S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Dylan Thomas and Doris Lessing. This issue contains essays on a variety of cultural topics, including eight lengthy book reviews, as well as poetry by seven fine poets and one short story. The volume is clean and sharp in appearance; inside, the text is pleasing to the eye, neither too small nor too large, and well-spaced on the page. Color reproductions of the latest paintings by Pakistani artist Jamil Naqsh grace the cover and comprise a special section within the issue. An excerpt from the commentary, by venerable art critic Edward Lucie-Smith, will give an indication of the tone of the magazine:
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date March 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
A brand new online publication, Looseleaf Tea creates a space for emerging and established artists to come together, offering different perspectives and aspects of different cultures. “Looseleaf tea symbolizes a return to roots,” the editors write. “It symbolizes a partiality toward comfort, honesty, and the formation of new bonds with friends and strangers over common ground.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
As an avid reader of flash fiction, I’ve long admired the diversity of writing featured in NANO Fiction. The journal’s 500-word ceiling for stories results in a showcase of quick, narrative-driven flash as well as prose that lingers with a heavy dose of lyricality. It ranges in genre from what we might call realist flash to work that is much more surreal, and everything in between. Through it all, the journal values work featuring language that is playful, explorative, and sharp.
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  • Issue Number Number 3
  • Published Date May 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
My first impression of Niche was: it is great to look at. Like that initial, hormonal attraction when you meet someone new, I was drawn in instantly, ready to say, “I’d like to get to know you.”
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  • Issue Number Number 45
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If you want a devastating collection of modern literature, reach for Pembroke Magazine. The journal was launched from North Carolina in the late 1960s and has matured to a strong print presence among the small presses. From the variety of vantage points and voices, you might not even realize that it showcases the best of compilation out of the Edenic East Coast—one hundred miles from Charlotte, one hundred miles from the sea. But it manages to capture this in time and place with a rich lyricism and insightful prose.
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  • Issue Number Number 24
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The blurbs on the back and in the ads in the middle of this issue of Post Road say things like “I often give away literary journals to my students . . . but I can’t give away Post Road—all I can do is show my copies to my students and then protectively snatch them back!” And “I trumpet Post Road not out of kindness but out of the purely selfish pleasure I take in a frisky, alert, independent magazine whose words and images spring off the page and sometimes turn a somersault or two before they stick their landings in my brain . . .” The former, by Aimee Bender, and the latter, by Walter Kirn, add up to something sounding too good to be true. However, let me reassure you: even a skim through this issue confirms their joie de la lecture.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Quiddity has the variety anyone can enjoy: the new works of poetry, prose, art, and interviews are drawn from around the world. And the results and advantage of combining a literary and art journal with public radio programs is always intriguing. I don’t know how the radio station handled the paintings, but here we can view George Colin’s nine untitled pieces as support, counter-point, accompaniment, or just plain enjoyable.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Stealing Time is a magazine for, about, and by parents. When I discovered its existence, I was immediately intrigued, yet wary as well. Would it have an angle, an agenda to promote? Would it rise above the content of most parenting magazines out there? Thankfully, the answers are no and yes. Stealing Time lives up to its mission statement: “To provide a venue for quality literary content about parenting: no guilt, no simple solutions, no mommy wars.”
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