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Published March 16, 2010
In the latest issue of Drash, Pam Grossman's poem "Kaddish" - a Hebrew prayer for the dead - is offered to a tree. It begins: "Our tree is dying / hunks of splintered bark peel away / branches creak ominously / then litter the yard with brittle bones // The tree surgeon arrives, surveys the damage / proffers a prognosis / two years at most."

It reminded me of trees I have known, and the willingness of some people to care for them rather than just tear them down when they are ill or diseased. It also brought to mind the chestnut tree at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, that years ago was very ill and many feared would need to be removed. The tree had been mentioned numerous times in Anne's diary - being one of the few images of nature she could see during the day through the uncovered attic window. The tree was not only saved and remains under care, but seedlings from its chestnuts were sprouted and shared. You can read more about it on the Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam website, including an interactive monument to the Anne Frank Tree where you can "Leave a Leaf."
Published March 16, 2010
In addition to the beautiful cover (Ding Jitang "Picking Persimmons," Xi'an, China, 2000) and the carefully selected poetry to fill its pages, this issue (v60 n3) of Beliot Poetry Journal includes a conversation with Coleman Barks by John Rosenwald and Ann Arbor. In it, they talk about "the relationship between music and poetry, isolation and community, judgment and acceptance."

For anyone who has seen Barks read along with musicians (visit YouTube if you have not), this interview adds another layer of depth to the idea of poetry and music combined, as well as to the complexity of Barks. As Barks says of joining his reading with musicians, "I work regularly with cello; I mean any instrument. The poem feels just so bare or something; I think the music puts it out of the mind, puts it in that layer below, back down in the water table. Somewhere the music lets the personality maybe dissolve a little more, or the ego. A lot of people think that the poem should stand on its own, but it feels good; it feels like I'm giving up some of my proudness, pride in the language of selection, when I let the music carry it along."
Published March 15, 2010
With the newest issue of Sou'wester, Adrian Matejka steps in as the new Poetry Editor, taking the place of Allison Funk, a job Matejka recognizes as "daunting." Still, Matejka hopes to "perpetuate the precedent set forth by Allison, who was dedicated to publishing thoughtful, provocative poetry, while also working to cultivate a dialogue between the diverse aesthetics in contemporary American poetry." Welcome Adrian - may this be the first of many more issues of Sou'wester for you!
Published March 05, 2010
Fourteen Hills has always had the talent for selecting cover-poppin' art, and their latest issue is no exception. "Stuck on Morning Thoughts" by The Pfeiffer Sisters is the appetizer for the center portfolio section of the journal, which features more of their sadly/sweetly haunting characters. Fourteen Hills also provides a link to a web portfolio of The Sisters' (Jenny and Lisa) work, featuring some divine nude-art & graphics prints (for which they not only created the works, but modeled for them). Worth the click (and then some) to check it out.
Published March 03, 2010
While previous posts have shared news of literary magazine changes in editorship, Jeanne M. Leiby of the Southern Review writes of SR's "lost years."

The story of how SR began is recounted in the introduction to An Anthology of Stories from the Southern Review (LSU 1953). It has been 75 years since the Louisiana State University president, James Monroe Smith, first began the journal. It was in 1942 that "because of the war and the national economic crisis, the university suspended publication of the journal" - until 1965. Leiby writes, "It's sad for me to thing about this gap in our history, the words and works we could have brought to readers in those intervening twenty-three years. And it's not lost on any of us here that we are again a country at war, a nation deeply affected by bleak economic realities."

But, Leiby shows her gratitude to a supportive administration and especially to readers who have kept the magazine running, who have helped to maintain SR as a "grand literary legacy."

At such times of struggle for so many in the literary community, her words of appreciation are well received. We do not want to have to wonder about lost years of voices and words, and we won't have to, as long as we keep our readership and support of literary magazines strong.
Published March 02, 2010
Editor Neil Shepard offers his Editor's Farewell in the latest issue of Green Mountains Review. He recounts his beginning with the journal in 1986, and spotlights many of the accomplishments over the decades. Shepard will stay on as Senior Editor, while Elizabeth Powell, a new faculty at Johnson State College, will be taking the role of Poetry Editor and General Editor.
Published March 01, 2010
In his Editor's Note to the Winter 2009 issue of The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Nathaniel Perry writes of beginnings: "Beginnings always fascinate us: we remember the first lines of novels, the first lines of well-worn poems. We relish memories of childhood. Storms build up over the far ridge and ride into town, and we stand and crane our necks to watch them." With this issue of, Perry takes over the role of editor from Tom O'Grady, who has stepped down.

As part of his own new beginning the journal itself will take on some newness, including a larger format and full-color cover, a new section of reviews, which Perry considers an "attempt to expand [their] own participation in the larger poetry community," and, finally, a new feature: 4x4. Each issue will include the same four questions asked of four of that issue's contributors.

As all good things must come to an end, our farewell to Tom O'Grady, and to Nathaniel Perry: here's to new beginnings!
Published February 18, 2010
Yet another intelligently fun non-fiction piece from Lisa K. Buchanan - excerpted here from Meridian 24:

Pandora Seeks Advice Online

Dear Pandora,
My vote: Have your husband open it.
~Eve

Panny Love,
Why didn't I think of that?
~Epimetheus

Sweet Pandora,
It's like I told Eve. You will not die. Do you have that straight? Hear me loud and clear. You will not die.
Open it.
~The Serpent

Pick up a copy
to read the rest of advice from other notables: Bluebeard, Plato, Francis Bacon, Snow White, Aphrodite, Zeus, and many more - often with exchanges to one another, and including some "real life" comments by equally archetypal figures from Buchanan's own life.
Published February 08, 2010
Seth Fischer on The Rumpus responds to WSJ's article on the death of the slushpile: A Necessarily Incomplete But Hopefully Helpful List That Proves The Slush Pile Has a Pulse - includes a short list of "mags that writers have reported are good about actually reading and publishing from the slush pile" and reader comments.
Published February 05, 2010
The newest edition of Antioch Review couldn't be more timely, with its focus on "Celebrity Houses." The issue opens with an essay by Daniel Harris, who takes readers into the newest realm of "celebrityhood - politicians as celebrity." The issue includes a several essay on France "all of which praise it, its citizens, an the French way of life," and includes a look at their celebrities and politicians in turn.
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