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Published May 18, 2009
Booklist editor Donna Seaman was the guest editor for the most recent issue of TriQuarterly (133). In her introduction, she begins: "My respect for the mystery implicit in creativity runs high, so I decided not to interfere with the process in my role as guest editor for this brimming issue of TriQuarterly. I did not name a theme, or assign a topic. Instead, I sought out writers who see life whole, who are curious about the interconnectivity and complexity of existence, and who care, deeply and unabashedly, about the world. When asked what I was looking for, I simply said, 'strong medicine.'"

"Good writing," she goes on, "is a tonic. The work of inquisitive, imaginative, unfettered, and courageous observers, thinkers, and dreamers provide succor. Heat and light. Food for thought and balm for pain. Lucid and compassionate literature breaks the isolating fever of the self."

Seaman has more to say on the parallels of this soul-felt medicine, introducing numerous contributors in the issue and their works, but it was her closing remark on the concept I was most comforted by, as so often, I don't find what I read so much soothing as jarring, awakening me to feelings unlike any salve should. Seaman addresses this as well: "Strong medicine may make you sick before it makes you better. Here, writers and readers alike face harsh truths about humankind's diabolical paradoxes and planet-altering endeavors. Strong medicine goads us into asking questions, articulating objections, and fueling the coalescence, let us hope, of new ways of seeing, and new ways of being."

Will my insurance cover this prescription of TriQuarterly? Oh, heck - the cover price is less than my co-pay, and no nasty side effects!
Published May 17, 2009
There's always much being said on the issue of funding and support for literary magazine, whether they are associated with a university, non-profit arts organization, or completely "independent," but now more than ever, there is a real concern about the survival of the literary magazine. Like the roots of an old oak, those concerns run deep, branching into areas far beyond simple finances.

A two-part manifesto Virginia Quarterly Review blog post brings a great deal of the matter into focus, with plenty of further reading reference:

The Future of University Presses and Journals (A Manifesto)
By Ted Genoways
May 9th, 2009

Whose Woods Are These? (A Manifesto, Part 2)
By Ted Genoways
May 14th, 2009

Via Carolyn Kellogg
Published May 14, 2009
Agni has long been providing exclusive online content, unique and separate from the print publication, with the content of each carefully selected for the delivery mechanism. The newest print issue of Agni (69) indeed offers something not only unique to print, but wholly unique to Agni among literary magazines: an exceptionally well reproduced, two-sided, trifold foldout of the collage "Where Were You When the Moon Was Full" by Aldwyth. This is in addition to several other color and black and white images to accompany Rosamond Purcell's art feature on Aldwyth, "In Her Hand: The Art World Goes to War."

Also included in this issue, the Editor's Note by Sven Birkerts, "What Remains," honors the lives of David Foster Wallace and John Updike through a thoughtful remembrance of their writing. As only Birkerts can, these comments truly honor without gushing, and say a great deal more about the place of writers in our memories. Worth a read regardless of your fan status with either author.
Published May 14, 2009
Canadian lit mags are still putting a call out for support. According to Managing Editor Rosalynn Tyo of The New Quarterly, "the Department of Canadian Heritage plans to eliminate funding for magazines with less than 5000 in annual ciculation as of April 2010...All that would remain on the table, of what's on my table anyway, is Geist and Canadian Living."

Like so many other quality, small literary publications, TNQ and other Canadian magazines could probably get by for a short period of time without this support, but more to the point is demanding the arts continue to be recognized for their cultural value and importance and supported as such. Not, as Tyo points out, forcing profitability and commercial viability as the marker of survival. Some things we just know are good for us, even if they don't make us rich.

Speaking from a state (Michigan) where we've seen massive funding cuts for arts and historical organizations, it's a sad, sad existence. And once it's taken away, don't think you're going to see it back any time soon. Fight while you still can, Canada, and for those of you with any say in this, visit TNQ's website for information on how to participate. Of course, purchasing subscriptions always helps.
Published May 13, 2009
According to Editor Robert Fogarty, the Antioch Review Spring 2009 issue introduces the new feature From Our Archives: "Beginning with this issue we will reprint a famous piece from our archives (essays, stories, poems)."

I've previously heard some controversy about publications doing this, as reprinting already published works takes up valuable real estate that hungry new writers are ever eager to fill. However, Antioch's approach to this, simply stated, is intriguing: "Read it and see how it stood the test of time. Is it gold or pyrite?"

Regardless of the hungry masses, this is a great question to ask and have the opportunity to explore. As often as I run across "old" lit mags and am thrilled to find some of the first works of now-famous authors, there are far more where-are-they-now authors. Granted, we can't all be famous, or even a recognized name, but probably more the issue: is what was written for the time, or for all time? And does its having been the former rather than the latter render it "pyrite"? I'll be interested to see what Antioch discovers with their new feature and some feedback from their readers.
Published May 07, 2009
The Puritan Editors Spencer Gordon and Tyler Willis have sent notice that as of May 1, 2009, "The Puritan is officially out of commission." Citing "including insurmountable financial debt, a dramatic change in location, and the current abysmal economy," the magazine will be on "permanent hiatus." As with so many mags, that pretty much means done unless a lot of money were to fall into their laps. Our thanks to The Puritan for their work in bringing new voices onto the lit scene for so many years.
Published May 07, 2009
Intrigued as I am by magazine covers, the "Cowboy College" line on the cover of Antioch Review (Spring 2009) drew me in. Editor Robert Fogerty takes a moment to introduce Bruce Fleming's lead essay on his 'student-centered-learning' experience at Deep Springs, "a unique educational endeavor located in the wilderness in California." Fogerty writes, "There is more here than a look at a quirky college; it is, rather, an examination of educational vlaues and vexing questions about authority and a look at a slice of contemporary youth culture. And most important it is an essay that looks at a much more fundamental issue: what is the purpose of an education?" Explored, though I don't dare say answered in Flemings essay, this is just the start of a very diverse, conversation-starter issue of Antioch.
Published April 15, 2009
The Spring 2009 issue of Zyzzyva offers readers a unique look at "textimage" with over 100 contributions in this single collection.

From the Editor's Note:

"Digital screens mash up words and pictures and videos and sound and links (to everything). The printed page segregates elements, putting them into their linear, orthogonal, rightful places.

"In this issue, we explore the spectrum of textimage, instances in which text and image collide and collude on the page-from the artist playing with that basic literary unit, the letter, to the writer sketching and doodling in his notebook.

Our take is not scholarly, but deliberately ecumenical, using examples from our pages over the past quarter century..."

Read more from Howard Junker, as well as view several of the works from this issue on Zyzzyva.
Published March 26, 2009
Jonathan Freedman, University of Michigan Professor of English and American Culture, has been named editor of Michigan Quarterly Review, the University of Michigan's flagship scholarly and literary journal. Professor Freedman holds a B.A. from Northwestern and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University, where he taught before coming to Michigan. He has also taught at Caltech, Oxford University, and the Bread Loaf School of English. He is the author of three books: Professions of Taste (1991), The Temple of Culture (2001), and Klezmer America (2007), and has edited numerous other volumes, including, with Sara Blair, Jewish in America, originally a special issue of MQR. In addition to his previous work with MQR, Freedman was a founding editor of the Yale Journal of Criticism and a member of its editorial collective.

MQR is a journal of the humanities, publishing essays, interviews, memoirs, fiction, poetry, and book reviews. Since 1977 MQR has been edited by University of Michigan Professor of English Laurence Goldstein, whose acute literary sensibilities and critical discernment have made the magazine an important venue for new creative work, and whose broad interests have encouraged its interdisciplinary scope.

He instituted the practice of devoting one issue a year to the exploration across disciplines of some topic of special interest, which has ranged from 1979's "The Moon Landing and Its Aftermath" and 1980-81's "The Automobile and American Culture" to the recent volumes on "Vietnam: Beyond the Frame," The Documentary Imagination," and "China." In the last two decades MQR has published work by Margaret Atwood, Robert Coles, Carol Gilligan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Barry Lopez, Czeslaw Milosz, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Rorty, Eric J. Sundquist, John Updike, William Julius Wilson, and other authorities in their fields, as well as some of the finest contemporary fiction and poetry. Work appearing in MQR is often selected for inclusion in anthologies such as the annual Pushcart Prize, Best American Essays, and Best American Poetry.

Professor Goldstein will complete his editorship with the Spring 2009 issue of MQR.
Published March 24, 2009
In "Why should I pay for your hobby?" (MastheadOnline) Stacey May Fowles responds to the CPF's established 5,000 annual circulation floor and the ignorance it will sustain: "But if you can’t get your business going, why should the average Canadian taxpayer be responsible for your personal passion? Your niche interests? Your 'little' magazine?"
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