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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted April 15, 2014

With this issue, ABZ becomes a biennial journal rather than an annual. It’s a shame it will come out less often, because the poems here arise out of deep feeling, place, and lived experience. They are about things that matter. No wonder the volume is dedicated to the memory of Lucille Clifton “who always knew how to make poetry even when it hurt.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Apple Valley Review is definitely a journal to watch, with excellently crafted prose and engaging verse. This particular issue boasts three fictions, one nonfiction, and thirteen poems. Dave Patterson “A Return to Rothko” is enchanting with the innocence of a child’s (and then man’s) reaction to death, along with his mother’s idea that there is something wrong with him because of it. The brilliance is in the small details, the illustrations that further the characters. When he is a child, the narrator plays with his dead dog; at only eight years old, he’s fascinated with the idea of death and is still learning what it really means...
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
According to neuroscientists at the University of Florida, lobsters may be the key to bomb detection. In other words, reality is fast approaching the fantastic, so for the modern surrealist to distinguish herself, she must court the right sound in the right place with the right pitch and endless imagination. The right place just might be apt, a publication of Aforementioned Productions.
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  • Issue Number Volume 64 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2013/2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of Beloit Poetry Journal is chock-full of powerful poems with interesting word presentations. Eleven authors contributed fourteen individual pieces to a short, impactful magazine. Editor Lee Sharkey rounds out the volume with an interesting article in the Books in Review section titled “Poems in Conversation.” Of the many ways to write and present poetry, I agree with Sharkey that some of the best are mobile selections “spanning time and cultures in a spirit of reciprocity.” Snapshots of instances are often most celebrated as successful pieces of work in the literary world, but our current society is in constant motion and its best poetry should be appreciated for moving in that direction.
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  • Issue Number Number 126
  • Published Date Winter 2013-2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
A gold square dominates the cover of Bomb’s 126th issue; it sits in the middle of a naked male figure’s chest, which appears to be a subject of a woman’s painting; her hand is partially hidden behind the square, the explicit center of intrigue in Peter Rostovsky’s Photoshop painting Autopsy (2012). Painting appears to be the ironic instrument of autopsy here, a way of dissecting. Conversely, the square underlines an intrusion, and omits something in the drama between man and woman, or hides it. The square seems out of place in the composition, as though it comes out of nowhere, ”bombed,” if you will. Thus, the image implodes with questions, conundrums.
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  • Issue Number Number 92
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Have financial constraints or a lack of vacation days turned you into a regionalist against your will? Don’t fret, the new issue of Brick is here to take you on a whirlwind tour, sans pat downs, turbulence, and the high cost of airfare. Aptly labeled “an anthology of enthusiasms” by former editor Michael Ondaatje, Brick is filled with the work of writers and thinkers whose preoccupations are as categorically eclectic as they are geographically diverse. From the ice fields of the North Pole to a paradise in the mind, from Tokyo to Arizona’s San Rafael Valley, the latest issue of Brick gathers the essays, interviews, letters, travelogues, poetry, fiction, reviews and musings of writers eager to give you a guided tour of their personal enthusiasms. And while the magazine’s content is eclectic and truly international in scope, it’s never willfully obscure. Rather, Brick’s eclecticism feels like an extension of its editors’ trust in the ability of good writers to determine what is substantial for themselves and make that substance meaningful and entertaining to others.
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  • Issue Number Volume 25
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“No one can embrace the unembraceable,” the editors of Chtenia commented on the task of reading for this issue, “Storied Moscow.” Indeed, Moscow evokes a rush of impressions like no other city: six-month winters, intrigue, people from Tashkent and Minsk rubbing elbows and trading blows, the center of violence, dreams, disappointments, and majesty for so many. I’m willing to bet that the Stolichnaya (“of the capital”) brand of vodka wouldn’t ring with the same aplomb if it were associated with, say, Washington, D.C. or Ottawa. The editors have done an admirable job of going beyond the familiar, however; the pieces in the issue range from historical records to writers who are hardly known outside Russia, to the lesser-known works of famous writers as well as snippets of Pushkin and Okudzhava in a new spotlight. The quirky volume makes me feel as if I’d just stumbled into a dusty section of the library, opened a worn hardcover that hadn’t been checked out since 1957, and discovered a treasure trove.
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  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2013-2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
As an introduction to this issue of Fence, Rebecca Wolff covers all the bases in her editor’s note: poetry, nonfiction, and, yes, fiction (because confessions and revelations often feel like fiction). Wolff’s tone is unapologetic, proud of her position, her power as editor: “It is in my power to bestow power, to share it.” One can argue that she’s flaunting this power, waving it in your face in a mixed mode of fuck-you and endearment, which is not unusual, since we live in the age of Facebook and Twitter where being in and over each other’s face has become common ritual, where our perceptions of privacy are constantly challenged by this urge to be social. Thus, the tone of this issue loudly and approximately adheres to the tenor of Wolff’s piece: forceful, hammered, on steroids, bitchy, suspicious of melancholia, and persistently fresh.
  • Subtitle A Journal of Writing & Environment
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  • Published Date March 2014
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
Home to Iowa State University, Flyway aims to publish work that “that explores the many complicated facets of the word environment—at once rural, urban, and suburban—and its social and political implications.” While environment may be a theme of the journal in general, I think it’s a pretty loose interpretation, meaning that almost any type of story could fit. But that isn’t to say that any piece of work could be accepted; the work presented here is polished, and is worth reading.
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Graze, a perfectly delicious foodie literary magazine, is printed in two color: black and green. The design works throughout and pulls the pieces together. This issue features a fantastic cover with various life-like foods in the library: an ice-cream sandwich lies on his back, a piece of pizza sits on the floor, a burrito browses the stacks, and plenty more characters populate the page. Inside, you’ll find plenty more fun.
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  • Issue Number Issue 30
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Hamilton Stone Review, like most online literary magazines (and literary magazines in general), is compiled by a small staff, but that isn’t to say that it’s a small publication, by any definition. It’s not small in size (five fiction, five nonfiction, and more than 20 poems), and it’s not small in quality. This issue of Hamilton Stone Review is bursting with crisp language, powerful tones, and lustrous imagery.
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  • Issue Number Volume 66 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“As Han-shan observed, / sometimes there is no Zen, / only hermits plodding up and down Cold Mountain.” These opening lines from Dick Allen’s brief poem “As Han-shan observed” nicely paraphrase a key question at the heart of several essays and reviews in The Hudson Review’s latest issue. Allen’s memorable poem from the current issue not only describes the human tendency to find dogma where none exists, it also calls into question the degree to which an accurate portrait of a person’s interior life can ever be drawn from the exterior evidence available to others.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The latest issue of this well-known journal is like a house that turns out to be much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. Here are its rooms: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and book reviews; a translation chapbook; three entries from the 2013 Fineline Competition; and two winners from the 2013 AWP Intro Journals Awards.
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  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In his lucid, wise introduction to this issue of the highly-reputed Missouri Review, Editor Speer Morgan invokes paradox and opposition, those twin universals of human existence, as the theme of the day. “Falling man” is the image on the cover and the title of his survey of the issue’s contents, and in referring to “the potential uncertainty of the given” as the driving principle of its stories, essays, and poems, he’s utterly correct. But I’d also argue that another theme, present in equal abundance, is beauty of language, deep respect for the right words in the right order, every bit as much in the prose as in the poetry. This—as always—is a magazine for the connoisseur. There is nothing amateur about it.
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  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The 2013 issue of The Nassau Review revolves around the theme of “Ekphrasis” or descriptions of other works of art. Each piece in this issue stays true to the theme and gives the reader things to think about on multiple levels. The work in the journal will make the reader not only contemplate what the piece of art they are reading is doing, but it will force the reader to meditate on the implications the work has on another body of work, be it a painting, an instructional manual, a pornographic magazine, or a sculpture. In many instances, the reader will be asked to consider the act of creating in and of itself.
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  • Issue Number Number 37
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“What’s Up?” is the title of this issue; on Robert Kareka’s cover, “Muddy Feet” are up, waving around in beachy air. But a lot more is up, too. Most of the time, the appeal of literature is its pointing beyond itself, like a Zen finger, to the “world under the world.” Language’s gaps and leaps, the cumulative sound and meaning of particular arrangements of words, lead us past mere materiality into the reality behind it, so that we close the pages transported and enlarged, though we couldn’t put our finger on the exact paragraph that did the trick.
  • Subtitle short stories & photography, unfolded
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  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
In “Chasing Butterflies,” Cassie Hooker gives us a beautiful though gruesome idea of what one might imagine in those moments between when a person’s heart gives out and when she is revived. “She found herself standing on the edge of the sprawling void, utterly alone,” it begins. And as it continues, we discover this woman has scrapes all over her face, from which a delicate butterfly emerges and then returns. Its tone is very dreamlike, with a slow beat, gently carrying the reader through the piece.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The mission statement of Raleigh Review reads, “We believe fine art should challenge as well as entertain.” While many of the pieces in this issue fit the description of traditional poetry and prose, there are significant pieces of work that do indeed “challenge as well as entertain.” Throughout the journal, again and again we are presented with imagery in a modern style that drives the pace in bursts of short statements and thoughtful comments that ask to be revisited.
  • Subtitle Poetry, Poetics, & Prose
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  • Issue Number Issue 17
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Poetry takes many forms, and this issue of Redactions is a stark reminder for me that I just don’t “get” some of those forms. I did run across several bits of writing worth investigating with more depth, but for the most part I was left grasping for meaning. All 26 poets represented should be commended for the hard work which they have had accepted, but readers need to know that this issue is more challenging than casual perusal, and I found very few moments of slack-jawed inspiration. Much like some of the grueling pages I had to go through in my graduate program, I am left feeling a stronger reader for focusing my attentions on finishing this magazine.
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  • Issue Number Volume 35
  • Published Date May 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Readers with an interest in the visual arts and graphic design as well as in literature will appreciate this publication. Rip Rap Literary Journal—designed and produced by students in the MFA program at California State University at Long Beach—allots generous space to bold typography and 4-color endpapers as well as individual artworks appearing throughout the volume. Physically, the journal feels and looks substantial, justifying its identity as an annual. If you are familiar with Rip Rap, you will know how to read it—at a non-linear and leisurely pace, letting yourself be surprised by what the turn of a page reveals.
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  • Issue Number Volume 8
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Physically built like a monograph from the City Lights Pocket Poet series, Saw Palm weighs approximately 5 oz., literally, with a figurative weight of so much peninsula, so much history that the Atlantic can deliver against the Florida shoreline. The book is preciously constructed, and the contents arresting, dedicated with precision to the literature and art of the state, its denizens and diaspora. Unlike other journals, where metaphor can wheel the reader away from the centrality of theme or place, this issue is a very strong representation of what perceptions and realities a writer might assign to place. It is a great work of editorial cohesion in that the work inside all relates to Florida—even in some unexpected ways.
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  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This issue of Sixth Finch begins with the line “You wish for a moon,” from Elizabeth Barnett’s “Between Two Houses,” which ends, “if sometimes / a house hurts you, // you still walk toward it / in the dark.” So tread forward into this issue; you may be wishing for a moon—beautiful turns of lines—and you’re most certainly walking in the dark, not sure what you’ll find, but I promise it won’t hurt you.
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Readers looking for poetic range in vast quantities, this is the issue for you! Over 100 pages of work that I would bet contains at least three things even the pickiest of perusers will enjoy. I found that I had to keep myself very present while reading through the issue because I would have gotten lost in the variety of words presented.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
WomenArts Quarterly Journal is a peer-reviewed journal published at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and is part of the Women in the Arts organization. It publishes a collection of poetry, interviews, and reviews, all created by women, in virtually any field of art.
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