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Posted Jan 26, 2004

Room of One’s Own

Before and After

Volume 26 Number 3

2003

There are many beautiful things to be found within the pages of the magazine that celebrates words as they are written, poems as they are whittled out, and art as it is imagined and incarnated by women. There are stories of love, of love lost, of shame and regret, of redemption and celebration. Poems of all the same themes. And art of still the same, wonderfully rendered, including several paintings by talented artist Heather Horton, with cover feature “Cheltenham Eden.” In the artist bio, Horton says she paints with “recurring themes of isolation, anticipation and solitude.” In looking at the front cover, it is not hard to imagine any of these themes.

The poetry here is astonishing. In Alexis Easley’s “Slow Burn” she writes, “This I now remember: lying on a bunk / and watching your hand fall, lit by streetlight- / silver rings and lank fingers / I almost kissed it.” In “The Roses of Winter” Pamela Porter muses: “some roses, you know, take years / when newly planted, to bloom.” Further on, she compares the roses to female hockey players: “they / are the roses of winter, daughters / of mothers whose roots / deep, infused with dirt, reworked / soil that once denied them /paper routes and five-man basketball.” Also of note are Bindu Suresh’s story, “The Moment Before You Reached Me,” and Renee Norman’s poem, “A Dozen Brown Eggs.” [A Room of One’s Own, P.O. BOX  46160 Station D, Vancouver, BC Canada. Single issue $5. http://www.roommagazine.com] - TD

 

Third Coast

Issue 17

Fall 2003

This issue opens with a Q & A of poet Juliana Baggott, who has several poems featured here. Her responses are quick-witted and funny, quite, I imagine, as you’d expect a poet’s to be. When asked why she doesn’t write formal poetry, she responds, “I mistake quatrain for Coltrane, terza rima for tiramisu,” and, while she agrees that “there is desperation in numbers, an attempt to keep account like naming babies in an orphanage hospital,” she admits that she will “forever 1-2-3 a waltz.” Witty indeed, and her poems - beautifully imagined and written. For example, in “The Stolen Poem: My Brother Poem after Levine’s ‘What Work Is’,” she writes, “He won’t admit to rain. Only / A break in the sun to wait out / My brother wait for it to unwind / amid the no-no of children, jazz, Scotch.”

Fine examples of other writers’ crafts are here, too, including “After the Unimaginable” by Marisa de los Santos: “At breakfast, my husband reads the paper / that was not, up close, a real paper.” Further into the poem, it gets chilling as the narrator explains of her child, “I did not touch / as he was carved into the very shape of peace. / The baby, too, is borrowed.” Also of note in this issue are the short stories “No Dressing” by Orman Day and “Seams” by Moira Crone, a tale of innocence lost with a bit of mystery tossed in. [Third Coast, Department of English, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Michigan 49008-5092. www.wmich.edu/thirdcoast] - TD

 

The Antioch Review

Circuses and Art Museums

Volume 61 Number 4

Fall 2003

This issue of the famed Antioch Review is subtitled, “Circuses and Art Museums,” and it does not disappoint on either front. In Cathy Day’s story, “The Last Member of the Boela Tribe,” circus life is explored in all its glory with its underbelly exposed as well. The same can be said for the essays on the state of museums in the world, such as Neil MacGregor’s “A Pentecost in Trafalgar Square” and “Pictures, Tears, Lights, and Seats” by John Walsh.

There is much here that is entertaining as well as informative. In Zdravka Evtimova’s story, “Blood of a Mole,” we are told of a desperate woman who goes into a small pet store looking for a mole. Three drops of a mole’s blood, she tells the shopkeeper, can cure her sick child. Having no moles, but wanting to help the woman, the shopkeeper goes out back and cuts himself, bringing back to the woman a vial of what he swears is mole’s blood. The woman returns with money and gifts, thanking the man for his life-saving mole’s blood. But by the end of the story his secret is discovered, and, as the shopkeeper notes, people push through his doors: “Everyone had a sick person at home and a knife in his hand.” Circuses abound. [Antioch Review, P.O. Box 148, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387. http://www.antioch.edu/review/home.html] - TD

 

Posted Jan 19, 2004

Michigan Quarterly Review

Volume 42 Number 4

Fall 2003

It’s a hard journal to gauge from the cover—a photo of, presumably, Shanghai, with a KFC billboard, Col. Sanders smiling from long past the grave, interrupting the Asian aesthetic. Turn to the contributor notes, however, and if you’ve any fondness for writing in this country at all, you are near guaranteed to find someone whose work you enjoy or, if not that, someone who will surprise you. As ever, any journal with a Bob Hicok poem is automatically worth the cover price, and in this case Hicok isn’t alone: Carl Phillips, Jay Wright, and Reginald Shepard all have work in the Michigan Quarterly, tucked between a mesmerizing interview (between Alex Stein and Lorna Dee Cervantes), and a subtle—as in you nearly have to hold your breath, be that silent, to be with the work—story by Margaret McMullan. The work within is aesthetically pleasing and as direct as an arrow’s flight—mad word games and the bang-your-head-against-the-wall (no matter the fun) poetry of some great contemporaries are both absent, leaving room in this journal for solid, balanced work, start to finish. [Michigan Quarterly Review, University of Michigan, 3574 Rackham Bldg., 915 East Washington St., Ann Arbor, MI 48019-1070. Single issue $7. http://www.umich.edu/~mqr/] - WC

 

Southwest Review

Volume 88, Numbers 2&3

2003

Oh Sally Bingham and William Wenthe! Oh John DeCaire and Kathryn Ma! Of the 28 authors with work in this journal, the sighing, huge vowel and exclamation could be used on just about any of them. The Southwest Review comes out of Dallas, Texas and while its cover trumpets nothing so much as a mature, almost National Affairs-esque sobriety (the lower half of the cover is a list of the work inside, and maybe it’s just me, but I’d take a cover like Tin House and get my ingredient list from the table of contents), the work within wanders different trails. Truly, Sally Bingham’s Transgressions, published in 2002 by Sarabande, was astounding, and her fiction herein is as exemplary. John DeCaire is the author of the essay “The Boys’ Book of Despair,” an essay that, through Jack London and his drinking, covers too many startling aspects to mention. Cynthia Nadelman’s “Watertight” is a devastating poem, Alice Jones’ “Muddy Hollow” will take you, that’s the best I can express it, and Helen Barolini’s “The End of My Giacomo Joyce Affair” is a surprisingly agile and interesting bit of literary detective work, behind-the-scenes intellectual infighting, and peace. I admit: this is the first time I’ve ever even seen a copy of The Southwest Review, though I can verifiably say: I’d be an idiot if it’s the last. [The Southwest Review, 307 Fondren Library West, Southern Methodist University, PO Box 750374, Dallas TX 75275-0374. E-mail: swr@mail.smu.edu. Single issue $6. http://www.southwestreview.org/] - WC

 

Blue Collar Review

Volume 7 Issue 1

Autumn 2003

What a find! This is as diverse a collection of writing as I have read in some time (with 42 entries on 60 pages – this is packed!). Anyone who has worked labor or second shift or a thankless-number-not-a-name job will find themselves within these pages. But don’t mistake the content (which is heavy on the poetry) as being all about work/ing. Oh, no -  there’s sensuality, as in Jillian Meyer’s “First Job” where she describes the post-shower relaxation that comes after work, the outdoor air blowing “gently into the warmer darkness behind my knees, / a drying breeze over a landscape not meant for fast travel / in the quiet of a night at home in my skin.” Natural imagery as metaphor roars in Cunningham’s “a hollow thunder” and walks us gently into the wood in Napolin’s “On Sunday.” Ironic humor, the antidote for many hard days worked, is keenly delivered in “cheese & tax extra” by roibeárd uí-néill, dense in both message and symbolic imagery, and Stephen Malin’s “Canning Track Classic” where cans on the conveyer belt become race cars. From banquet waitressing to factory work, from coal miners to exterminators, the range of experience in this simple saddle-stitch volume is immense, as well as the depth of heartfelt, labor-lived emotion. Political commentary also runs deep, notably Conroy’s “A Brief Economic Preview,” Franke’s “Regime Change, Mon Amor?” and Seibles’ “Dem Dat: For Subcommandante Marcos and the Zapatistas.” The editorial tells readers, “Though most of us are worn down daily by work, we have no choice but to engage in this struggle [for a better vision of society]. The alternative is unacceptable.” As such, this publication is a tremendous act of engagement. We have only to respond by reading. [Blue Collar Review, Partisan Press P.O. 11417, Norfolk, VA 23517. Single issue $5. http://www.angelfire.com/va/bcr/] - DH

 

Thought Magazine

Issue 4

2003

If you’re a literary traditionalist or an anal grammar/perfect-proof reader, leave. You’ll hate this publication. For the remaining (more forgiving) folks, let’s talk. The first section is a bit rough. I swear someone lost pages to the Manil Suri (“Death of Vishnu”) interview. But the “Letters to the Editor” start the engine purring. Look at these beginning sentences: "I love the rain / As a schoolgirl, I read the story of Hero and Leander for the first time in Arabic / I believe that human beings everywhere share similar joys and sorrows."

Reading the international fiction section is a tour around the globe. Highlights include: Elif Shafak, in "Black Meat for White Maladies," depicting a modern Turkish woman’s involvement in a goat sacrifice; a little Scottish girl losing her mother and new sibling in Thea Atkinson 's "An Excerpt from Throwing Clay Shadows"; and an elderly Japanese woman selling her meager bounty in Michael Onofrey's, “The Vegetable Lady." In the collection of contemporary short fiction, I loved "Heavens to Betsey," by Shawna Chandler, who allows her elderly trailer park character to slowly striptease down to her true nature, and "Space Issues," by Max Ruback, examining space and bonding issues in relationships.

After 304 dense pages, I asked, "What are these folks trying to do? Why read this?" The answer came in Michael Zack’s poem, "Costa Rica.” Sheaves of poems fly off a deck into the hills, mangroves, and beaches. The author muses, "And when the winds reverse / perhaps those poems will all fly back, / rearranged, fonted with this new place / all the better for their night out in the jungle..." It’s why we read: for the hope we will be better for our night out among the thoughts of others. [Thought Magazine, P.O. Box 117098, Burlingame, CA 94011. E-mail: thoughtmagazine@yahoo.com. Single issue $8. http://www.geocities.com/thoughtmagazine/] – GK

 

The Gettysburg Review

Volume 16 Number 3

Autumn 2003

The Gettysburg Review is a consistently beautiful literary magazine. Distinctive art work grace its cover and internal gallery, and it has a sensual “feel good” quality. The Review continually selects works of fiction, essay, and poetry which make you sigh. This issue does not disappoint, although the art work—desolate industrial Manhattan landscapes by Andrew Lenaghan—can best be appreciated after reading the insightful commentary by Molly Hutton.

The fiction magnetized me. My favorite pieces are “Among the Tootalonians,” by Edward Falco and “Still Life with Dog” by Terry Bain. Falco’s is an engaging story of two lonely misplaced people who discover each other at an art exhibition. Val and Alice’s unconventional interaction highlights their emotional pain, both unique and common between them. A bold act of compassion, through Val’s hands, promises more than temporary relief to the couple. Bain’s story feels like the title. In art, a still life captures not only a moment but also the complex textures and relationships of the gathered objects. Bain expertly accomplishes the same goal, showing us a glimpse of life on a ranch in Washington while hinting and shadowing how events in the characters’ lives interface.

And then, along comes William Trowbridge. Any poet whose latest collection is entitled, “The Complete Book of Kong” (yes, as in King Kong) is certainly one who is going to cultivate the unexpected. Trowbridge’s three poems in this issue surprise, delight, and walk the thin edge between sarcasm and irony. In each poem we meet a character named “Fool.” Fool is a king, a man with bad luck, an archangel shooting for a promotion. My favorite fool is the fallen angel who is “put in charge of the Small Consolations detail that plants / dimes and quarters under sofa cushions. / Each one you find contains his blessing.” [The Gettysburg Review, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 17325-1491. E-mail: mwilson@gettysburg.edu. Single issue $7. http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/gettysburg_review/] - GK

 

Field

Number 69

Fall 2003

A section of this issue of Field is dedicated to pieces in tribute to and discussion of James Wright, the poet who, among many literary achievements, brought to life the tragic and desolate landscapes of Martins Ferry, Ohio. I was particularly interested in Bruce Beasley’s “Feeding the Glass Swan: James Wright's Lyric Antilyricism,” which discusses how Wright’s Midwestern linguistic heritage influenced his work. I always enjoy the poetry in Field, and this issue is no exception. Grace Paley, an acknowledged master of the short story form, contributed two poems of amazing strength, including the haunting and nuanced “Story.” Carol Potter’s “Comfort Zone” will surprise readers with its familiarity and insight. Here are some lines from the poem, difficult to excerpt, but rewarding: “Who meant to stay here this long? Anywhere. This job. This / comfort zone…Who thought we could live this long? Get this worried? Be this // stupid. Go square like this...” The poems in this issue have a bit of a melancholy tang, completely appropriate for the fall season, and the examination of Wright’s work inspired me to re-read his work with renewed enthusiasm. [Field, Oberlin College Press, 10 North Professor Street, Oberlin, OH 44074. E-mail: oc.press@oberlin.edu. Single issue $7. www.oberlin.edu/ocpress] - JHG

 

The Georgia Review

Volume 57 Number 3

Fall 2003

This hefty collection of essays, fiction, poetry, art and reviews defies easy categorization, such as “traditional,” “Southern regional” or “academic.” The issue starts out with a riveting essay by Gerald Stern and continues with wonderful pieces like Nance Van Winckel’s luminous short story, “Funeral of the Virgin,” and Michael Chitwood’s poem “The Cello.” A generous portion (over 15 pages!) of the journal is allocated to reviews, which, since I am something of a review junkie, I appreciated. A review of this issue would not be complete without at least passing mention of the featured art work by Lynn Davison. The prints of her fantastic but disturbing paintings have the kind of light and shape reminiscent of Dalí, but the situations and people she portrays are firmly grounded in a more realistic, and therefore more ominous, world. She is a stunning talent, and representative of the strength of the work in this journal. [The Georgia Review, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-9009. E-mail: garev@uga.edu. Single issue $9. http://thegeorgiareview.com] - JHG

 

Green Mountains Review

Volume 16 Number 1

Fall 2003

The sizeable, glossy Green Mountains Review is filled, as always, with fresh and interesting work; this time many of the pieces have a metaphysical bent, but with a twist, such as poems that meditate on the true holiness of the phrase “Holy Shit,” that imagine Mary Magdalene’s conversations about Jesus at the tomb, and that consider explanations of mortality to a little boy at a crematorium. Half tongue-in-cheek, Charles Harper Webb’s poem “In Unromantic Times” bemoans our contemporary cynicism, and the death of romance, with an edge of real grief at the end:

“Our young gentlemen…don’t sip sorrow // Like plum wine snatched by corsairs on the China / Sea. They don’t give up titles and lands, / Then dash off into rain hard as grapeshot / To die in some glorious foreign war. There are / No wars worth dying for. There’s no true rain.”

In a lighter vein, this issue features a lively interview with Mark Halliday, who talks about the importance of playing with words and with poetry. This journal delivers a pleasing mix of writers and styles. [The Green Mountains Review, Johnson State College, Johnson, VT 05656. Single issue $7. ] - JHG

 

Posted Jan 6, 2004

The Green Tricycle

Issue 13

November 2003

The Green Tricycle is billed as the “Fun to Read” lit magazine, and it lives up to its mantra superbly. Each issue incorporates poetry, “flash-fiction” and “mini-drama” under three different themes that are tossed out prior to the issue’s publication so as to give writers ample time to craft a work based upon the requisite themes. In Issue 13, the three categories up for grabs were: Lure, Sage, & Rock. Each separate theme then includes a work of art in the graphic design genre as well as approximately ten to fifteen selections of poetry and prose inspired by the topics. The refreshing and amazing thing about this type of format is the sheer diversity of style and subject matter it spawns. Under the heading Lure, writers share about fishing trips with fathers, poetry of unrequited love, and having to visit grandmothers. Under the heading Sage, writers share about medicine men, eccentric old women, herb gardens, and wisdom. Under the heading Rock, writers share about music, grave markers, gardens, mountain trips, and unforgiving landscape. It was like unwrapping a birthday present each time I read another selection due to the surprise and delight I experienced upon seeing how an individual author took the unifying theme and twisted it to leave her fingerprints on it. The organization of the zine allows for continuity and an easy transition from poetry to prose as well as from one author style to another. Two pieces stood out to me in particular, “Adobe Dreams” and “Visiting Grandmother.” In “Adobe Dreams” by Kevin Craig an aging hippie recounts his loneliness for times past intermingled with his deep attachment to the stark beauty of his home under the New Mexican sky, “Sage is keeping me a prisoner in paradise.” This quote is indicative of the simple truth and beauty coursing throughout the veins of The Green Tricycle. Although prose, this selection laps upon my ears like true poetry. Another wonderful selection entitled “Visiting Grandma” by Uma Mahadevan –Dasgupta also captures the simple, straightforward essence of the publication, “And then there’s this little game between us, with Grandma looking for ways to make me stay, and me looking for the first moment to escape.” Whomever believes that “fun” fiction is without literary merit should hit up The Green Tricycle. Its clever format, variety, and simple truths will strike a chord with any reader. http://greentricycle.com. -ST

 

Quick Fiction

Issue Four

October 2003

Measuring in at 6”x6”, this is a great little journal to tuck in a bag, purse, glovebox, computer bag, under a pillow or wherever you can think to stash it for truly quick reading. Keeping entries at under 500 words, this publication offers a zen approach to reading literature – just as we can remind ourselves to breathe during hectic days, this publication is an accessible reminder to read. The stories themselves range from tightly crafted complete fictions in less than two pages, to some that seem like great beginnings of what could be longer stories (or springboards for our imaginations to continue the story), to a few that read more as disjointed streams of consciousness, leaving readers saying, “Huh?” at the end. Of special preference for me in this issue, first, the cover art, which attracts the eye over and over, and of the stories (24 in all): Ben Miller’s “#425 (Second Marriage)” in which the government has instituted marriages be renewed every 10 years as a way of creating revenue and stimulating the economy; the plot tension and character development in Pia Z. Ehrhardt’s “Strike”; Andrew Michael Roberts’ humorous social interaction with a three-legged dog in “Truncated”; and what seems to be the history of western civilization condensed in the intense, fast-paced imagery in Jeff Reichman’s “Timber.” In particular, all book lovers should have this issue if for nothing more than Leslie Busler’s “Memoir of a Bookshelf” which, seemingly simple, has been painstakingly crafted, causing me to ahh and ooh and think of my own version to write. For those of us who repeatedly say we have no time to read, Quick Fiction is our breath of fresh literature. [Quick Fiction, JP Press, 50 Evergreen Street, Unit 25 Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. Single issue $5.50. [http://www.jppress.org/issues.php] - DH

 

Free Lunch

Number 30

Autumn 2003

This zine-styled publication should be on the required reading list for college-level creative writing and poetry classes: a jewel of a compact scholarly literary supplement that can provide the basis for numerous discussions and approaches to poetry. Ron Offen’s editorial, “Meaning, Intention, and the Art of Poetry,” offers a springboard for the discussion of contemporary poetic styles (or lack thereof), publication by small press, and poetry and meaning vs.(at times) individual understanding (if you don’t understand the poetry, does that mean it’s good?). The argument touches on deconstructionist analysis vs. reader response, among other criticisms which could be brought into this debate. Offen promises in the next issue to continue this discussion, which I look forward to reading. Of course, James L. Weil’s poem “For Bob” could well provide an answer in itself, concluding: “Poetry. / You don’t get / it. You let / it get you.” Other features of the publication include “The Free Lunch Mentor Series” in which “a prominent poet introduces an unestablished poet of his or her choice” (Carl Lindner introduces Julie King), and “The Free Lunch Reprise Series” which “presents forgotten or undervalued American poets” (Weldon Kees is featured) – two sections providing a healthy dose of literary education in each issue and creating a strong sense of poets’ community. This is in addition to the dozen or so other poets whose writing fill each page. My favorite: Ray Skjelbred’s two works, “X” and “The Optometrist,” both of which twist language, sound and imagery playfully to transport readers to those mystical metacognitive plateaus only poetry can take us. Free Lunch indeed feeds the hunger of poetic intellect. [Free Lunch, PO Box 717, Glenview, IL 60025-0717. Single issue $5. http://www.poetsfreelunch.org/index.html] - DH

 

Hayden's Ferry Review

Issue 32

Spring/Summer 2003

Always satisfying, this issue is intensely exciting with a "Special Section" on "sublimation," defined in chemical terms. The editors have selected work that considers the "questions of expansion, collision, and revelation" — categories of inquiry and exploration as rich and provocative for the arts as they are for the sciences. And the work here is indeed rich and provocative. The special section features exquisitely crafted writing by poets (Eric Pankey, Heidi Czerwiec Blitch, Anne Shaw, among others) whose reverence for language naturally expands our sense of ourselves and the world, collides with everyday meanings and contexts, and reveals something that moves us to think in a new way, not to mention to consider the power of language itself. Caerwiec Blitch's work, from "Hiking the Maze," concludes with questions that seem just right for the theme of sublimation: "…Have I/said the right thing? Is this the right language?" Black and white photographs by Emily Matyas are equally compelling, expressing unusual and captivating interpretations of "sublimation." The quality of the reproduction of all of the photos in the journal is outstanding. Several fiction "short shorts" and prose poems round out the special section. While the work on the sublimation theme makes this issue of Hayden's Ferry Review stand out, there is strong work from notable voices throughout, including new poems by Albert Goldbarth and David Wojahn, and interviews with Wojahn and with Michael Cunningham. [Hayden's Ferry Review, Box 871502, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1502. E-mail: HFR@asu.edu. Single issue $6. www.HaydensFerryReview.org.] - SR

 

Midnight Mind

the guide to life (like we know what we're talking about)

Number Five

2003

Fun. Funky. Wild. Weird. Probably is best to read this at midnight. If it's not necessarily the most reliable guide to life, it's certainly an entertaining experience. Design is important here whether you read it at 12 noon or 12 midnight, with drawings, photographs, dueling fonts, graphics rich pages, the reproduction of handwritten text, and so much to look at, it's hard to know where to start. "Letters and E-mails," "Life Moments" (quirky stuff from published writers), "Things of Note," "Mistakes We Made in the Last Issue," "Overlooked Art," and other "Journal Entries" are generally quite clever, though a few are merely silly. The "CD Rack" and "Magazine Stand" offer short, intelligent, useful reviews of current releases and publications. The book reviews are worthwhile, too. Oh, and did I mention there is poetry, fiction, and nonfiction? The titles alone could make any middle of the night more meaningful: "City Planner with a Pointer and a Blueprint talking to the Engineer at the Board Meeting regarding the Building of the Expressway, Boston, MA, Sometime during the 1960's" by Tim Malone and "If You've Never Stepped in Dog Poop," by Linda Simone. There's some serious thinking and writing going on here, too, including a thoughtful little essay by Aileen Weintraub, "Politically Speaking. On the Front Lines of Volunteerism" and many pieces about the most serious of subjects: war, lost love, suicide. But, just so we won't take ourselves or Midnight Mind too seriously, the editors have gleefully provided a "guide" to their guide! If you've ever seen the guides for reading groups published at the end of many of what, for lack of a better term, let's call Oprah Book Club type novels, you'll love this "Reader's Guide to the Guide to Life"— question “# 2. Does Linda Simone want to know someone who has stepped in dog poop?" [Midnight Mind, P.O. Box 146912, Chicago, IL 60614. E-mail: info@MidnightMind.com. Single Issue $7.95. www.MidnightMind.com] - SR

 

The Carolina Quarterly

Volume 55 Number 3

Summer 2003

"There's only so much of anything you want to know," concludes Calvin Trillin in "Comments from a Modest Man," a thoughtful and entertaining interview conducted by Jonathan D'Amore. That sums up the whole of this very worthwhile issue of The Carolina Quarterly — it's modest, but self assured, unassuming, but powerful. The fiction is particularly strong. The story "Falling Dream," about learning to live with the effects of brain injury, by newcomer Jane Carter, is unusually appealing. One of those pieces you're glad not to have missed and can't forget. I hope to see much more of her work soon. Another, "The Soup of Human Kindness," by the more experienced Ellyn Bache (this one, too, curiously, about a medical situation), also departs, gloriously, from the edgy, disembodied, agitated fiction that is so popular lately. A mature, tender, and hopeful story. The Carolina Quarterly is definitely not to be overlooked. [The Carolina Quarterly, Greenlaw Hall CB #3520, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-3520. E-mail: cquarter@unc.edu. Single issue $5. http://www.unc.edu/depts/cqonline/] - SR

 

TWO LINES

Parties

2003

Celebrations, gatherings, affairs, factions, feasts, salons, unions, orgies, sects, partners, leagues, cabals, defendants, accomplices, holidays, conspirators, partakers — the definition of "parties" for this tenth volume of the journal. TWO LINES is an engrossing theme-based journal of poems in translation, published by the Center for Art in Translation in San Francisco. It's beautifully and cleverly done and, to its credit, includes only work published for the first time in English in North America. The historical framework is as expansive as the geographical scope, with poems from ancient times to the current moment. Poets include a few writers who may be well known to readers in the U.S. and many who certainly remain unknown here were it not for TWO LINES. All of the poems appear in their original language (Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, French from France and Senegal,  Finnish, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Provençal, Spanish from several Latin American countries, Uzbek, and more) and in translation, preceded by a bio of the poet and a short commentary from the translator about the process of creating the translation. Brief contributors' notes at the back of the journal provide the translators' bios.

The generous definition of "parties" keeps the work unpredictable (and often profound). Discovering what sort of "party" these poems and stories will evoke is part of the excitement. The translators' commentaries are essential reading for lovers of language and those interested in the "art and craft" of translation. TWO LINES would be magnificent reading for college-level courses and writing workshops on world literature. At nearly 300 pages, there's enough here now to keep a serious reader of international poetry engaged from May to May, when, for the last 10 years, the journal has been published. In 2004, however, the journal will begin biannual publication, with one theme-issue and one guest-edited issue which will focus on the literature of a specific region or language group. The editors have announced "power" as the next theme: muscle, electricity, fame, potency, beliefs, money, magic, authority, addictions, sway, resistance, establishment, mobs, physics, emotions, stars, royalty, knowledge, influence, fuel. Let me add one: TWO LINES. Powerful and exciting work. [TWO LINES, 35 Stillman Street, Suite 201, San Francisco, CA 94107. E-mail: editors@twolines.com. This issue $14.95. www.twolines.com or www.catranslation.org] - SR

 

The Journal of Ordinary Thought

Different Doors

Summer 2003

Now in its second decade, JOT "…publishes reflections people make on their personal histories and everyday experiences. It is founded on the propositions that every person is a philosopher, expressing one's thoughts fosters creativity and change, and taking control of life requires people to think about the world and communicate their thoughts to others." The doors here symbolize place, Chicago (past and present) to be exact, and some of the streets, towns, and geographies people who live there now have left for Chicago.

It can be surprising how out-of-the-ordinary ordinary thought can be! A product of writing workshops of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, this would be a terrific journal to read in classes and workshops with novice writers (and photographers). "Unpolished" as much of this work may be, there are some truly fine and exciting moments. Here's the opening of "Fast Life" by Daniels Malavé: "Rockwood and Maplewood is the place / where the gangs all hang and slang / A lot of action. A lot of satisfaction." And "Somewhere in Basra, A Woman" by Susan House is as good a post-9/11-at-war-with-Iraq poem as I've seen, and there's one in almost every journal this season, understandably so. Some of the work is quite sophisticated, in an understated way, demonstrating that the journal's slogan, "every person is a philosopher" is indeed the case. [JOT, Neighborhood Writing Alliance, 1313 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail: editors@jot.org. Contact for single issue pricing. www.jot.org] - SR

 

The Kenyon Review

Volume 25 Numbers 3/4

Summer/Fall 2003

The Kenyon Review offers a special edition, with the theme of culture and place. The annual index appears in the back, offering an overview of an entire year fiction and poetry. Poems focus on place, from Jennifer Grotz’s artistic “Arrival in Rome” to the incredibly detailed “A Flat in Jaipur” by Vinay Dharwadker. The latter poem offers brilliantly vivid images, from the rainbow film of oil on water to banana peels “black and limp as strips of leather” (122). “Japanese Magnolia” by Virgil Suarez paints a delicate picture of the lovely flower, with simplistic double lined stanzas rich with meaning. The poems create scenes from distant countries, heightening the reader’s awareness of the world.

“Amar” by Daniel A. Hoyt offers one of the few stories in this collection. Framed by descriptions of food, the character, Amar, struggles with life in a cheap diner with a son to support. There, he meets a thoroughly modern angel living in the slums of Dresden. Rebecca McClanahan writes a diary-style essay, detailing her attempts to rescue a wounded squirrel and what she learns in the process. Other works of creative nonfiction include life in Japan and a valley of hermits “tucked tight against the border of Montana and Canada” (Rick Bass 152).

All of the writing in The Kenyon Review is very strong, colored with beautiful prose and sensual images, bringing other worlds into vibrant focus. This extra long double issue is even richer than most, offering readers a delightful journey across time and space. [The Kenyon Review, Walton House, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH 43022-9623.E-mail: kenyonreview@kenyon.edu. Single issue $10. http://www.kenyonreview.org/] – VF

 

The Saint Ann’s Review

Volume 4 Number 1

Winter/Spring 2003

This magazine is short and pleasant, about 150 pages. Within its covers, the reader will find stories, an interview, pictures, and lots of poetry. Many of the stories and poems in this issue seem to center around parent-child relationships. There are several Jewish stories and poems and a Latin American story. Another story focused on a young girl’s reaction to Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, filled with emotion and poignancy. This issue also featured an interview with Carroll Dunham, an artist who paints avant-garde mythology. Several examples of her work appeared in the magazine, emphasizing her incredibly creative talent. An excerpt from the recent book Waterfront: Ramblings and Soundings on Manhattan Island adds color to the magazine. Creative photographs and endless poems fill this magazine, creating a charmingly diverting read. [The Saint Ann’s Review, Saint Ann’s School, 129 Pierrepont St, Brooklyn, NY 11201. E-mail: sareview@saintanns.k12.ny.us. Single issue $9. http://www.saintannsreview.org/] - VF

 

 

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