The latest issue of New England Review (40.2) includes "Polish Poetry in Translation: Bridging the Frontiers of Language" edited by Ellen Hinsey [pictured], NER's international correspondent, with translations by Jakob Ziguras.
Hinsey discusses her approach to this collection, coming to the difficult question of "how to choose among so many brilliant authors? Should one pick a range of poets, or focus on individual key texts that might reflect a Polish reader’s idea of major 'missing' poems?"Read more...
If you love rules and regulations, following forms and formulas to make something work, gnashing your teeth and pulling out your hair to meet perfection - and you love poetry - then you're going to love this free Prime 53 Summer Challenge Poetry Contest.
Press 53 Poetry Editor Christopher Forrest [pictured] and Publisher and Editor in Chief Kevin Morgan Watson devised a new poetic form: the Prime 53 poem.Read more...
Wrap up your summer and get ready to head back to school with Zac Thompson’s “The Water of Life” a stage/screenplay in Qu #10. The characters, Leah and Carrie, are young, romantic partners at the close of their two-month summer relationship, each preparing to go to college—Carrie away to university and Leah to the local junior college. Leah, a preacher’s daughter, has set up a baptistery so the two can bind their relationship with a ritual. The dialogue is subtly quick and revealing, Leah being the pragmatist and Carrie the comic; Leah the “intense” dramatist and Carrie the lighthearted, “afraid to express [her] feelings.” It’s an intimate scene, full of the love and subsequent gut-churning realism young people face when their paths are on the verge of separation. A memorably bittersweet read.
Review by Denise Hill
With the Spring/Summer 2019 issue, Ecotone Editor Anna Lena Phillips Bell [pictured] introduces a new "department" to be included in each issue of the journal, "Various Instructions, in which writers and artists will offer lists, prompts, formulas, how-to's, and the like."
Drawing inspiration from Eric Magrane's "Various Instructions for the Practice of Poetic Field Research," Bell writes that "these instructions are an invitation to think deeply in and with place. They have proved enduring; I’ve been glad to use them in teaching and in my own poetic practice."Read more...
Robb T. White’s lead story “A Civilized Man” is provided as a sample of the July 2019 Thriller Magazine (2.1). White’s narrator opens the story with, “What is a civilized man?” and walks readers through his fiancé’s disappearance and ultimate discovery of her brutalized dead body. The predictable dead-end investigation is offset by the narrator’s unexpected choice of action as he lays down his own justice. “It’s odd that I feel no guilt or shame.” The narrator confesses, “Quite the opposite. I feel . . . pleased, if that’s the right word.” Likewise, in reading the objectively detailed sequence of events, I felt no guilt or shame in his actions either. Pleased ? Maybe that is the right word.
Review by Denise Hill
Two whirlwind prose poems by Leslie Marie Aguilar in the May 2019 issue of wildness online speak in abstractions melded with concrete symbols, creating a contemporary mythology of the self. “Bone Altar” begins, “Legends begin with valerian root, red clover, & a touch of tequila.” and instructs the reader to call upon ancestors. “Cartography,” just at the moment I think the poem’s speaker is deeply troubled, assures me, “If this sounds like a cry for help, like shouting into a canyon & hoping to hear a voice different than your own, it’s not.” Two dizzyingly brief works with lasting impact.
Review by Denise Hill
". . . about a year from when this issue arrives off the press, I’ll be stepping down as editor. The decision came to me rather suddenly, I confess, and several years earlier than I’d previously imagined. What had long seemed a comfortable bike ride, despite occasional potholes and sudden challenging hills that maintained my interest and attention, was now unexpectedly weighing in my legs and on my shoulders. I was growing a bit weary and impatient for other vistas, other challenges."
In discussing the role and responsibilities of editor, Lynn responds to the label of gatekeeper :
"It’s hostile and resentful, suggesting that the role of literary editors is to maintain high barriers. With all my heart, however, I believe that the appropriate charge for an editor of the Kenyon Review is to resist any such notion of guardianship, of excluding any class or set of writers. Rather, whoever is appointed to follow me, she or he or they, should continue to seek to include, to aggressively search out new voices and new talents and even new media with which to publish them, while also nourishing and supporting many of those talented authors we have discovered and honored for the past two decades and more."
We wish Lynn a smooth transition away from his wonderful work with Kenyon Review - may he indeed be met by beautiful vistas and invigorating challenges.
CRAFT Literary’s mission is to “explore the art of fiction with a focus on the elements of craft.” They do this through publishing fiction with commentary, pieces on craft, interviews, and more.
Recent publications include Cathy Ulrich’s flash fiction piece “Being the Murdered Extra.” Ulrich imagines the backstory for the quintessential crime show “dead girl.” Written in second person, readers are put in the place of the auditioning girl while still feeling disconnected (you’re dead after all) as the story moves on to breathe life into the background characters of the background character: her mother and her roommates. This story is accompanied by two paragraphs of commentary on the craft.
The “Craft” section of the website includes sections titled “Essays,” “Interviews,” “Books,” and “Roundups.” In “Books,” find reviews, and in “Roundups” check out lists like “TV Adaptations We Love” and “CRAFT Fiction by the Elements.” A recent interview with Ariel Gore is introduced by a bonus essay on Gore’s We Were Witches by interviewer Melissa Benton Barker.
Jody Hobbs Hesler in “If You Can Name It, You Can Fix It: A Craft Glossary” writes about the benefits of giving clear feedback during writing workshops. In the essay, she points out how it’s easy to provide feedback of what’s working, but harder to articulate what could use some help, so she offers her own help by pointing out some common issues such as “Cliches of the Body” or “Too Much Reality vs. Realism.” Hesler provides a convenient little glossary for writers and those who workshop.
CRAFT Literary provides a deeper look into fiction while offering writers plenty of material to help out with their own writing processes.
Review by Katy Haas
The latest issue of Blood Orange Review offers plenty of good writing, the nonfiction inviting readers to consider where they come from as the three writers do the same.
Melissa Matthewson answers the question of her essay’s title “Aren’t There Any Beautiful Things in Your Own Country?” with “Yes. No. Also, fewer.” A response to Susan Sontag’s “Unguided Tour,” Matthewson writes of the beauty living along the California/Mexico border, the beauty that continues to fade as time passes.
In “We Carry Smoke and Paper,” a desire to perform a Chinese red egg ceremony for her daughter’s one-month celebration leads Melody S. Gee to think about how she and her mother each fit into the label of “Chinese,” and how Gee particularly fits, raised in America for basically her entire life, daughter of a mother who single-handedly tries to keep her Chinese traditions alive. This is an insightful and revealing piece on cultural and familial identity.
Questioning familial identity is the backbone of “Crescent” by Rochelle Smith. The piece begins:“John Coltrane is my father. The jazz saxophonist, yes [ . . . ]. I’ve known this all my life. Or that’s not true, not all my life, really only since I first heard his music, which was in college.” Readers may have their doubts, but Smith backs up her claim with proof of how Kenneth, the man her mother marries, couldn’t possibly be her real father. “I’ll tell you two stories about Kenneth,” she says, letting the reader into her story, “and then you tell me.” But we find this is all wishful thinking, like the angsty teenage years where the flitting thought comes up: “maybe I am adopted—there’s no way I come from these people.”
Check out the nonfiction in the latest issue of Blood Orange Review and take some time to think about where you came from.
Review by Katy Haas
Our families and the people we care about affect much of how we feel or what we do in life, so it’s appropriate that many of the poems in the Spring 2019 issue of Apple Valley Review center on family.
Gail Peck’s speaker thinks of “The Perfume I Never Gave My Mother,” the scents of “flowers [ . . . ] desire [ . . . ] youth” clouding around her as her mother’s health fails, scents reminding her of the way her “mother loved flowers. [ . . . ] Always an arrangement / on her table that could take your breath away.” Mark Belair considers the silence and absence of his grandfather’s house after he dies, offering us a tiny glimpse through “the mail slot,” also the title of the piece. Seen through the innocent scope of the speaker’s childhood self gives us a refresher on loss as he fully understands it for maybe the first time.
Lynne Knight writes of two family members in her set of poems, her father in “At Twenty” and her sister in “After My Sister’s Mastectomy.” The former recounts a tumultuous relationship between father and daughter as she watches him angrily smoke cigarettes on the sidewalk below her apartment. Knight expertly captures the complicated push and pull of loving someone while hating parts of them at the same time:
hating his daughter
even as he loved her, for making him yield
to love’s weakness, its longing
for nothing to change.
The latter poem of Knight’s draws on images of outdoors and nature to explore the finiteness of life while encouraging us to appreciate the bits of beauty, wonder, and humor the outside world offers while we’re here.
In addition to these works, this issue offers much to discover, including two fiction pieces by Jeff Ewing and Jeff Moreland, poems by Doug Rampseck, and more.
Review by Katy Haas