Crazyhorse Fiction Editor Anthony Varallo's Editor's Note to the Spring 2019 issue couldn't be more timely. In it, he recounts a conversation with a colleague asking, "What do you do with all your books?"
A conundrum for most NewPages readers, no doubt, since being book people still means holding onto physical copies of books, no matter how many e-versions we could be reading also/instead.
I once envisioned the perfect adulthood as being one surrounded by books. I guess I also should have envisioned the time to read them all! Much like the Twilight Episode, Time Enough At Last, we here at NewPages find ourselves surrounded by books and literary journals with barely enough time to glance the covers and contents before another batch arrives in the mail.
We do make time, however, to read, to write reviews, to appreciate others' reviews, and keep up with the literary world in general. Still - here are all these physical books.
Varallo [pictured] writes, "For many years, I acquired books with the idea that I was building a library. A library that would give me pleasure for years, I'd hoped, or a library that might be useful to others . . . "
We had also held such visions at one time, purchasing a dozen or so quality bookcases and having some built in. They quickly filled the office and spilled into numerous rooms in our home. And who read them? Did we have time? Did they even "look good" ? As Varallo comments, "I tell my colleague about the tower of books on my nightstand, the one that stretches higher than my lamp. I describe the books stacked horizontally on my bookshelves, not in the artful, decorative style you sometimes see in glossy magazines; these are stacks of pure necessity. Books piled on top of other books, sometimes bending the covers of the books beneath them."
This is the reality of 'too many books.' Yes, there is such a thing as too many books. And the truth of the matter in our case is, they should be freed onto others so that they can be read.
We cleared off the bookshelves in the office. Cleared out almost every bookcase in the house. We boxed up books and magazines and donated them to various libraries, colleges, universities and K-12 classrooms in our area and a bit beyond (Hello Alaska friends!). After this initial clearing out, we are still met with a steady stream of books and lit mags that come through. It is our work, after all.
What to do with them? We have a plan hatching and look forward to sharing it with you later this summer. In the meantime, What do you do with all your books?
It doesn’t matter if you gravitate toward fiction, nonfiction, or poetry when cracking open a new issue of literary magazine—the Spring/Summer 2019 Concho River Review has you covered.
John Blair kicks off the issue with “The Glass Mountain,” a piece that drips dark energy. Ray’s young, troubled niece moves in with him and his wife after her mother dies. Sexual and violent tension build throughout the story, finally culminating in an explosion of darkness.
In nonfiction, Brandon Daily revisits a dark time in his own life in “A Moment In Our Life, Again,” an intimate taste of the turmoil a couple feels when trying for children and experiencing multiple miscarriages. Daily gives the point of view of the father in the heartbreaking scenario, his pain orbiting his wife’s. The piece takes place as Daily waits outside the bathroom door, waiting for bad news, and then moves backward to shed light on the years and previous miscarriages that led up to this one, the moment suspended, hanging over readers like a shadow.
The issue concludes with twenty-seven poems by twenty-seven poets. Some of my favorites include “Migratory Bird Count” by Walter Bargen, a light piece on perception; “Some Good News” by Grant Clauser who points out the little bits of human kindness and comfort we can cling to; “AX” by Timothy Krcmarik, a small study on the speaker’s five-year-old son; and “Hunger” by Elena Lelia Radulescu, wives’ tales exploring the delicate balance of loneliness. Regardless of which poem a reader decides to start with, all are straight forward narratives telling stories in clear voices.
Both poetry and prose in this issue of Concho River Review promise readers a satisfying selection.
Review by Katy Haas
Published by the Black Earth Institute, dedicated to re-forging the links between art, spirit, and society, the May 2019 issue of About Place is themed "Dignity As An Endangered Species."
Issue Editor Pamela Uschuk notes that the editors "chose work that addressed the question, what is dignity?" from the starting point that "dignity is endangered during these times." Assistant Editor CMarie Fuhrman asserts, "It is necessary that we begin to define, for ourselves and as a Nation, that which makes us human, humane." And Assistant Editor Maggie Miller explores the concept of dignity and closes her preface: "With chin up, shoulders back, we too go forward – with dignity given not taken away."
Contributors to the issue include Rita Dove, Joy Harjo, Jacqueline Johnson, Patricia Spears Jones, Fenton Johnson, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Linda Weasel Head, Kelle Groom, Maria Melendez Kelson, Cornelius Eady, Sagirah Shahid, Inés Hernández-Ávila, Gerald L. Coleman, K.LEE, K. Eltinaé, and Kimberly Blaeser.
Submissions for the next issue of About Place Journal are being accepted until August 1, 2019 on the theme: "Infinite Country: Deepening Our Connection to Place, Culture and One Another." Editor Austin Smith and Assistant Editors Taylor Brorby and Brenna Cussen Anglada.
In 2018, Driftwood Press began accepting graphic work for their book publishing arm, and as readers wait for their chance to pick up a new graphic novel, they can check out the graphic work in the literary magazine. The current issue published at the start of 2019 features three selections in graphic works: “LaughTrack” by J. Collings, “The Salton Sea” by Cindy House, and “Émigré Animals” by Jason Hart.
In “The Salton Sea,” House writes of her young son who, after refusing to complete a project, is given an alternate assignment at school. House’s eager willingness to patiently teach her poet son how to navigate in a world that doesn’t completely suit him is palpable in her poetic language and minimal illustrations, a touching piece.
Hart uses topiary animals to explore the immigrant experience in “Émigré Animals,” a man showcasing his resiliency as he creates the animals of his home country along the streets of his new home. The images of this comic reminded me of a children’s book, and I could easily see Hart’s topiary artist inhabiting a longer, expanded story.
“LaughTrack” is creative in its wordlessness; the only dialogue in the comic are streams of “hahahaha” laughter written in red. A man, miserable in his day to day life, feeds off the laughter he gleans from others, culminating in one final letdown. Despite the sullen tone hanging over the comic, the bright colors and sketchy lines make for a visually enjoyable read.
None of the three comics in Issue 6.1 of Driftwood Press are alike. Each brings something different to the table—different art styles, writing styles, subject matter—and I look forward to discovering even more comics offered in future issues and novels from Driftwood Press.
Review by Katy Haas
The editors of Frontier Poetry, in keeping with their mission "to provide practical help for serious writers," especially emerging poets, has a series of interviews - Editors Talk Poetry Acceptances - with "great editors from around the literary community." Frontier Poetry asks for "frank thoughts on why poems may get accepted/rejected from their own slush pile of submissions, and what poets can do to better their chances."
Adding an interview almost every month, Frontier Poetry has so far interviewed Kristin George Bagdanov of Ruminate Magazine, Rick Barot of New England Review, Chelene Knight of Room, Esther Vincent [pictured] of The Tiger Moth Review, Talin Tahajian of Adroit Journal, J.P. Dancing Bear of Verse Daily, Gabrielle Bates of Seattle Review, Melissa Crowe of Beloit Poetry Journal, Marion Wrenn of Painted Bride Quarterly, Hannah Aizenman of The New Yorker, Anthony Frame of Glass Poetry, Luther Hughes of The Shade Journal, Don Share of Poetry, Sumita Chakraborty of Agni, Jessica Faust of The Southern Review, and Kwame Dawes of Prairie Schooner.
If my mother and I walk out of a store into the center of the mall or exit a building onto any town’s main street, there’s a 95% chance she’ll ask me which way we came from and which way we’re now headed. If we park in a crowded lot, she follows as I lead to her hidden car. When I’m with her, I am the navigator, the way-finder.
The 33-page nonfiction piece begins in an airport, Sellers struggling to find her way out to her car. From here, we work back, finding this was always an issue, cultivated when she was young as her mother struggled with mental illness and her father with alcoholism. Knowing which way to turn, when it’s okay to turn on a red light, how to navigate a college campus or a familiar neighborhood, recognizing faces—this is all foreign to Sellers. However, Sellers writes all of this straightforwardly and clearly as if she’s describing how we can make it out of an airport, a route we can effortlessly follow, her words a way-finder at our side.
After tracing back to examine the possible source of this predicament, she puts a name to it: prosopagnosia or topographical agnosia. Once it has a name, it’s easier to understand and cope with, which leads to the deeper point of Sellers’ piece. In witnessing others struggle, she notes that she’s not uniquely alone, and she realizes the compassion and patience she shows others lost with or around her. This sympathy is missing when dealing with her own directional mishaps, the rest of the piece a steady reminder for readers to treat ourselves and others with more compassion as we find our ways through the world.
Review by Katy Haas
The basic stories in much of our canon of literature are hardly subtle. Their power and wisdom come from the discoveries about human nature and behavior through characters and their struggles. Beware of pride-bound, stubborn, pigheaded leaders—yes and beware of the idea that the themes of classic literature are “irrelevant” today. The resiliency of literature comes also in the clear and perfect expression of the moments and moods of life through language, many examples of which cannot be forgotten—Hamlet with the skull of his jester, Keats and his nightingale, or the sheer poignancy of Nick Carroway at the end of Daisy’s dock, looking out on the green light, thinking "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Speer Morgan, "Collisions," The Missouri Review, Spring 2019