NewPages Blog :: Magazine Reviews

Find literary magazine reviews on the NewPages Blog. These reviews include single literary pieces and an issue of a literary magazine as a whole.

Visit Flint with About Place Journal

About Place - October 2019Magazine Review by Katy Haas

The October 2019 issue of About Place Journal takes readers on a journey from north (truth) to south (courage) to east (rebirth) to west (mourning). I immediately connected with a poem found in the north: “Flint” by Kendra Preston Leonard.

It would be hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about Flint, Michigan at this point. In early 2014, the city (which is only about a forty-five-minute drive from my home and is home to a handful of my friends) was in the news for their water crisis. After changing water sources to save money, residents were left with lead-poisoned water, an on-going issue in the city and the state.

Leonard writes about this in “Flint,” the speaker asking readers to “Come and drink,” “this acid” and “the sweet sweet leaded water,” to “Drink / and drink / and drink/ down this styx.” She invites those with distance to “Find out what it is to stand you here,” “where the river / adds children to the cemetery.” This lessens the distance between watching the information on the news and leading readers to really considering the humans that have been harmed by water, something that’s necessary to live.

Leonard’s imagery is enjoyable to read, despite the gravity of the poem’s message. The piece reads smoothly, flowing like a river. “Flint” is a great place to start your journey into this issue of About Place.

Anna Leigh Morrow Invites Us into Her Nana’s House

Still Point Arts Quarterly - Spring 2020Magazine Review by Katy Haas

The latest issue of Still Point Arts Quarterly is dedicated to “Grandparents and Other Wise Ancestors.” The art centers on this theme and the featured writers share stories of the family who came before them. Of these, Anna Leigh Morrow’s “Home-Canned Magic” really jumped out at me.

Morrow focuses on her grandmother’s house and the magic that seemed to be conjured there. Morrow states that while it’s both her grandparents’ house, calling it “Nana’s house” makes more sense: “Nana is so completely the queen of her domestic domain that I often use only her name when I talk about their home.” I found this piece so easy to relate to, especially now as my family has been cleaning out my grandparents’ house (though I, too, have always called it “grandma’s house”) after my grandpa’s passing in January. Climbing the precarious ladder up to the attic for the first time in years and poking through my grandmother’s old belongings in the rafters brought back my own memories of childhood magic at my own “Nana’s house.”

Morrow reveres her grandmother in the ways she has sacrificed for her family and continues to love and support them throughout the years. She details moments of magic—her green thumb, her ability to create through cooking for her grandchildren, her ability to show others where to find their own magic.

Simple and straight forward, Morrow lets readers into her Nana’s kitchen for a visit, letting us get to know the woman who encouraged and inspired her as she grew up. This piece is welcoming and full of love, a nice thing to read as a reminder of the good that surrounds us during the chaos of current events.

Not Your Ordinary Issue of True Story

True Story - Issue 35

Magazine Review by Katy Haas

True Story veers away from their usual issues in publishing Issue 35. “Not Your Ordinary Experience of Desire” is a collaborative piece between Susannah Borysthen-Tkacz and Justin Chen. When I saw this was written by two writers, I expected the nonfiction piece inside to jump back and forth between their points of view, and I suppose it does, but it does so in a more unique way than what we usually see. The entire issue is printed horizontally, Borysthen-Tkacz’s narration on the left side of the page, and Chen’s on the right.

The joint piece is broken up into three parts. The first focuses on each writer’s childhood: Borysten-Tkacz’s early history as a gymnast and the beginning of an eating disorder, and Chen’s unfamiliarity with American pop culture and intimacy. In part two, they each identify the ways their relationship begins to deteriorate; he focuses on sacrifice and giving up parts of one’s self, while she begins to realize she’s queer. In part three, the two start to shape themselves outside of their relationship, finding out who they truly are apart from each other.

By writing together, they fill in gaps the other leaves behind. We’re able to see both sides of the same story, neatly arranged next to each other on the page. Both write with a sincerity I found touching and easy to connect with. Despite the tumultuous events, they manage to bare their true story with honesty and grace.

About the reviewer: Katy Haas is Assistant Editor at NewPages. Recent poetry can be found in Taco Bell Quarterlypetrichor, and other journals. She regularly blogs at:

See What’s Coming “LatiNext” in Poetry

Poetry - March 2020Magazine Review by Katy Haas

The March 2020 issue of Poetry includes a LatiNext folio with selections from The Breakbeat Poets Volume 4 forthcoming from Haymarket Books. This anthology “opposes silence and re-mixes the soundtrack of the Latinx diaspora across diverse poetic traditions” and the selection included in Poetry gives a good sampling of what to expect in this anthology releasing in April.

My favorites include “My Uncle’s Killer” by J. Estanislao Lopez, “Rules at the Juan Marcos Huelga School (Even the Unspoken Ones)” by Lupe Mendez, and “Lady Fine Is for Sugar” by Stephanie Roberts. Continue reading “See What’s Coming “LatiNext” in Poetry”

“On Our Toes” by Cristina Rivera Garza

World Literature Today - Winter 2020Magazine Review by Katy Haas

In the past couple years, it has been difficult not to notice the hashtags #MeToo or #TimesUp filling up timelines across the internet. But while so heavily focused on what’s going on in the United States, and despite the connection of social media, many of us have been able to overlook what’s happening in other countries, including one bordering our own. Cristina Rivera Garza in “On Our Toes: Women against the Femicide Machine In Mexico” in the Winter 2020 issue of World Literature Today sheds light on #RopaSucia, which was used “to showcase incidences of misogyny in academic institutions and cultural circles”; #MiPrimerAcoso, stories of “my first harassment”; and #MeToo as tools used by feminists throughout Mexico as they fight to make changes for women in their country.

Continue reading ““On Our Toes” by Cristina Rivera Garza”

“Tent People” by Kate Arden McMullen

Carve Magazine - Winter 2020Magazine Review by Katy Haas

Carve Magazine never fails in bringing readers fresh fiction. In the Winter 2020 issue, Kate Arden McMullen opens her story “Tent People” with a paragraph introducing our narrator, Baby, and her family: Lily, Elis, and Daddy. As the scene unfolds, Baby’s mother is notably absent. The story wraps around this absence as Baby wanders around in her newly found womanhood (“I’m full-grown now Mama says since I got my first-ever period last month,” she notes). Continue reading ““Tent People” by Kate Arden McMullen”

Take a Walk Down “One Narrow Street in Tokyo”

The Main Street Rag - Winter 2020Magazine Review by Katy Haas

There’s something simple and sweet in “One Narrow Street in Tokyo” by L. Davis, published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Main Street Rag, and it’s that simplicity that drew me into it. The language is sparse, and so is the poem itself, taking up just a tiny sliver of text on each side of the page.

Davis captures a small section of time in which life changes for a girl, a life so fleeting compared to that of the shrine she passes. A nearly mystical aura lingers around the fox that watches from its home in the shrine. Davis uses no punctuation used in this piece, sweeping readers up into the scene and to the end in one seamless motion. I read it over and over, letting it wash over me, my eye originally caught by the poem’s formatting. Short and sweet, it’s a good place to start with this issue of The Main Street Rag.

About the reviewer: Katy Haas is Assistant Editor at NewPages. Recent poetry can be found in Taco Bell Quarterly, petrichor, and other journals. She regularly blogs at:

The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review – Fall 2019

Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review - Winter 2019Magazine Review by Katy Haas

I’m ready for spring to hurry up and get here already, so I couldn’t help gravitating toward poems featuring plants in the Fall 2019 issue of The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review.

Tara Bray focuses on plants in all three of her poems: “Inside the Sycamore,” “Milkweed: Doxology,” and “Lemon Verbena.”  She writes with a hushed appreciation and admiration for each of these. There’s a familiarity and softness in her words. She calls the lemon verbena “sister,” she and her family fit themselves inside the sycamore, she feeds off the milkweed, a deep connection tying her to each plant.

This makes me appreciate Brian McDonald’s “Basil,” found on the following page, that much more. He heads in the completely opposite direction, beginning his poem with much less adoration: “Fuck. Another summer of trying to grow / these oily leaves I’ve always let fry / in the heat.” The basil plants lead McDonald to consider his shortcomings: other plants that have died in windowsills and his uncertainty about whether he’s treating his wife how she should be treated. He’s open and honest, deeply human, all with the help of these fragile basil plants.

It will still be cold here in Michigan for at least another month or two, so I definitely appreciate the writers that are able to deliver me from the chilliness and drop me in the middle of a sycamore or a warm backyard, a tray of basil plants in hand.

Blink-Ink – True Crime Issue

Blink Ink - Issue 38

Magazine Review by Katy Haas

True crime seems to be all the rage lately, from books on famous cold cases to Netflix documentaries to hit podcasts. Blink-Ink tries its hand at covering this theme in Issue 38 wherein 16 writers use micro-fiction to explore true crime.

JR Walsh writes about a B&E at an ex’s house where the criminals’ “fingerprints never moved out.” Katie Yates writes of a husband who steals a puppy for his wife. In Craig Fishbane’s “Weapon of Choice,” one weapon is social media, the other is a gun. Leah Rogin-Roper provides four related pieces on a juvenile detention center. The stories in this issue cover a wide array of crimes in creative ways, and it’s fun to see a fictional take on truth.

Blink-Ink publishes stories that are 50 words or less. This makes for short, snappy stories that toss readers headfirst into the drama. In this issue, we never have to wait long to find out who did it in these whodunnits.

“Death of the Farm Family” by Sarah Smarsh

The Common - Fall 2019Magazine Review by Makenzie Vance

In the Issue 8 of The Common, Sarah Smarsh describes how her grandfather’s home became a central gathering place for friends and family and then how it was lost after his death. She begins two generations before her own and skillfully condenses her three-generational story into a compelling length.

Smarsh recounts how her drifter grandmother met her grandfather and finally settled down after a life of wandering with her teenage child—Smarsh’s mother. Though the farmhouse served as a communal space for family and friends and a home for eccentric farm traditions like sledding in a canoe behind a truck, the farm fell apart when her grandfather died, leaving a hole in their lives.

Smarsh speaks to all when she illustrates the importance of a central gathering place for a community, and she reaffirms the importance of small farms and the lives lived upon them.


About the reviewer: Makenzie Vance is a creative writing student at Utah State University.

New England Review – Polish Poetry in Translation

New England Review - Volume 4 Number 2, 2019Magazine Review by Andrea Diamond

Ellen Hinsey and Jakob Ziguras were invited to assist the New England Review in compiling a collection of poems written by previously untranslated Polish authors in a special issue titled “Polish Poetry in Translation: Bridging the Frontiers of Language” (Volume 40 Number 2, 2019). No doubt, Ellen Hinsey, who had previously used love as her guide to identify works to include in her book Scattering the Dark: An Anthology of Polish Women Poets, was chosen for her care and attention.

The introduction to Hinsey’s anthology is referenced in an editor’s note in this issue and highlights difficulties that translation presents. Hinsey describes how even best efforts are often unable to fully create expressions and understandings in English that exist uniquely in Polish (and other languages) while also preserving beauty in the verses. Continue reading “New England Review – Polish Poetry in Translation”

“Owosso” by Mary Birnbaum

Crazyhorse - Fall 2019Magazine Review by Katy Haas

Mary Birnbaum’s nonfiction piece “Owosso” caught my eye in the latest issue of Crazyhorse, not only because it’s the winner of the Crazyhorse Nonfiction Prize, but because it’s a familiar name (though a surprise to see in a national literary journal); the tiny town in Michigan is a mere hour away from where I’ve lived my whole life. It’s also where Birnbaum’s grandfather lived, she learns as she reads his obituary at the gym. This discovery leads her on an exploration of the concept of ghosts and hauntings.

Across the country, Birnbaum writes of the ghostly characters of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and personal ghost stories shared by two friends. This leads her to look at the ghosts of her own life. These are not supernatural beings haunting the darkness, but are her father and her grandfather, two strangers removed from her life.

Birnbaum’s thoughts about her father and grandfather are complex and complicated. She breaks her ideas apart into small chunks, making them easily digestible as she bounces back and forth between ghost stories, the “what-ifs” of finding and confronting her father, and her discovery at the gym. At one point she wonders, “if it’s worse to be a ghost or to be haunted. I wonder if both are possible in me,” leading me to consider the ways in which I myself am a ghost or am being haunted in my own life.

As the essay wraps up, Birnbaum decides to label Owosso a mythical location. But while the small city is something separated from herself, it did conjure up from the shadows a tiny, welcomed connection between writer and this reader.

“Transcendence: A Schematic” by Alyssa Quinn

Meridian - Summer 2019Magazine Review by Shaun Anderson

Alyssa Quinn’s “Transcendence: A Schematic”—Meridian Editors’ Prize 2019 winner—explores her efforts to process the loss of her brother. Weaving together a pilgrimage to Walden Pond, her memories of her brother, and her own beliefs and doubts, Quinn probes the hollowed out spaces, searching for a truth she can hold in the absence of her brother.

The exploration of emptiness leads Quinn to consider the places others turn to for truth. She explores science, religion, and maps, searching for a space where she can find her brother. Even in form, Quinn demonstrates absence as she creates a schematic, seeking answers from figures that do not exist. As Quinn tries to present an answer to her questions about death, transcendence, and reality she can only state with absolute uncertainty, “Perhaps the center is just as elusive as the beyond; matter as problematic as spirit.” In death, Quinn’s brother has shattered Quinn’s understanding of reality.

While the essay pulses with the agony of living in an emptied reality, Quinn recognizes that even her writing has been reformed by the loss of her brother. Quinn must confront the fact that “Syntax cannot convey true absence—say ‘I miss him’ and there he is again—there is no language for loss, for such awful missing.” Her work plunges into the loss of her brother, and emerges with the knowledge that Quinn must create a space to hold her brother within her own words.


About the reviewer: Shaun Anderson is a creative writing student at Utah State University.

“Dream Logic: The Art of Ten Contemporary Surrealists” by Kristine Somerville

Missouri Review - Fall 2019

Magazine Review by Katy Haas

The Fall 2019 issue of the Missouri Review invites readers to wander away from the ordinary into a world that’s a little bit “off” in its feature. In “Dream Logic: The Art of Ten Contemporary Surrealists,”Kristine Somerville offers a brief history of the surrealist art movement.

While we learn the history, we also see full-color images of surreal artwork, including embroidered mixed media images by Robin McCarthy, clay sculptures by Ronit Baranga, collages by Rodriguez Calero, and more. Indeed, these all carry dreamlike qualities as they challenge our expectations. Each piece grabs the eye and forces it to take in new, creative perspectives. Baranga’s work features grotesque human features emerging from delicate teacups. Gensis Belanger’s work seems to showcase the ordinary until you blink and realize a stool is supported by four large cigarettes instead of regular legs, and the foot inside the sandal that rests on the stool is actually a hot dog. Whimsy and dream logic reign in this feature. The provided history grounds us, though, giving a clear lens through which we can examine the art.

Somerville closes with the reminder, “surrealism provides an outlet for creativity and spontaneity and an escape from the tyranny of the real.” Allow yourself to escape for a moment and wander into the dreams of the surreal artists found in the Fall 2019 issue.

Two Poems by Bill Snyder

Weber - Fall 2019Magazine Review by Katy Haas

The Fall 2019 issue of Weber includes two poems by Bill Snyder: “Redundancy” and “Home.”

Snyder travels through time in these poems. In “Home,” he brings us to 1972 as he hitchhikes to his father’s house in Florida to surprise him with his arrival, and in “Redundancy,” he brings us to 1995 while he plays Scrabble with his mother.

Snyder writes with clarity, each poem rich with description that never bogs the message down. Each feels like a tiny short story, grabbing readers and pulling them into the scene. We are sitting at the table with his mother, “sunlight seeping in.” We are standing on the side of the road waiting in the humid air for a car to stop, “the sun behind a Burger King, Kentucky Fried, / all the rest.”

These poems are a pleasure to read, an intimate gaze at the familial bonds of Snyder’s speaker.

Ruminate – Winter 2019/20

Ruminate - Winter 2019/2020Magazine Review by Katy Haas

Each issue of Ruminate opens with “Readers’ Notes,” a response from a variety of readers/writers on the issue’s theme. This is one of my favorite parts of the issue—the little snippets of connection. The Winter 2019/20 theme is “Shelter,” and thirteen readers write in with their thoughts on the subject.

It’s interesting to see the variety of approaches writers take as they cover this topic. A few speak of physical structures that offer shelter. Benjamin Malay writes of an abandoned farmhouse found while hitchhiking; Duane L. Herrmann’s shelter is a screened-in porch during childhood; and Sharon Esterly writes of a DIY Cold War bomb shelter. Moving away from man-made structures, Rebecca Martin observes a child’s own body being their shelter; Liz Degregorio’s shelter is “the kindest lie” her father could tell her as a child; and Sarah Swandell’s shelter is a womb.

Each of these pieces is short and succinct. All grab attention and hold fast as readers unfold the layers that reveal the shelter within. The Readers’ Notes section serves as a great opener for Ruminate, both as a warm-up for the rest of the issue, and as a way to jog one’s own creativity, prompting consideration on how we too might briefly write on the given topic.

“Echoes” by Edward Hower

blackbird echoes howerStepping back in time to 1960s-Manhattan, author and former supernumerary actor with the New York City Opera Company (NYCO), Edward Hower reminisces of sharing the stage with the magnificent, world-renowned coloratura soprano, Beverly Sills in “Echoes.”

Readers, performers, and devout season ticket holders alike are presented with backstage passes to one of the most opulent, velvet-covered theaters in the world. Hower’s recollections are so detailed that we can smell the sweat seeping through the make-up, pantaloons, and Roman breastplates.

Through a tender, adoring lens, Hower observes how Sills’s pianissimos float through the air forever, with descents so dazzling that guests are left liquified. Questions of purpose and place are contemplated in between the echoes of scales and vibratos: whom to love and how to love them, refusing to give up by giving in, and to what ends one must sacrifice for the sake of maintaining their integrity. As audience members we too may feel, as Hower expresses, “the tremor of applause rising through us” as we seek triumphant courage amid the tyranny of doubt on the stages of our own lives.


Review by Camille Sleight-Price

Salamander – Summer 2019

salamander summer 2019After twenty-seven years, Jennifer Barber has left her position as Editor-in-Chief of Salamander. In the Summer 2019 issue, readers can find a portfolio, edited by Fred Marchant, dedicated to Barber’s work with Salamander over the years.

Location is a strong theme among these poems. Martha Collins writes of Santa Fe in “Passing,” flashes of scene and memory flitting by as she walks us through the streets; Valerie Duff sits at the titular “Fry’s Spring Filling Station” in Charlottesville, VA and thinks of the passage of time; Danielle Legros Georges lands in Cap-Haitien, Haiti in “Green Offering”; Yusef Komunyakaa quietly reflects on the train stop at Liberty Airport in Newark, NJ; and Gail Mazur considers hiking Ice Glen trails in Massachusetts, thoughts of romanticism and friendship drawing her there. If you’re unable to get out and travel this summer, take a mini literary vacation through this selection of Salamander.

Between those stops on the map are other great poems including “Selected Haiku for Jenny” by Maxine Hong Kingston, a set of three-lined stanzas that seem almost like a writing exercise to urge her to write, as it begins “There are days of no poems. / Not even 17 sounds will come.” And then later “Haiku master: ‘No need / for 17 syllables. [ . . . ] / Be free.” In “Recovery,” Jeffrey Harrison writes of a familiar feeling for me: the fear of breaking a favorite coffee cup. In one moment, he thinks he’s lost it, and in the next it’s still there, “its yellow somehow brighter,” better now that he’s felt its loss.

There are plenty more poems to check out in this portfolio, a fitting good-bye for Jennifer Barber and her dedicated work throughout the years.


Review by Katy Haas

Big Muddy – Volume 18 Number 2

big muddy v18 n2Big Muddy has proven to be one of my most favorite journals to read. The topics of its many stories and poems speak to that downhome, simpler type of life, even if sometimes it may not be a positive image or experience for those involved.

Within its pages, you’ll find fiction, poetry, and essays that really make you think about life and the situations we find ourselves in. Most of the work and topics are directly related to the ten states bordering the Mississippi River, all the way from the U.S./Canada border to the Gulf Coast through Louisiana.

Continue reading “Big Muddy – Volume 18 Number 2”

Plume – December 2018

I always look forward to seeing what Plume Poetry is going to bring to the table with their Featured Selection each monthly issue. This month, they bring readers five poets under the age of thirty-five: Caroline Chavatel, E.G. Cunningham, Emma DePanise, Ella Flores, and Kimberly Grey. John A. Nieves briefly interviews the five as introduction to their respective two poems.

Continue reading “Plume – December 2018”

Southern Humanities Review – 2018

The latest issue of Southern Humanities Review features a set of four flash fictions by Judith Ortiz Cofer, a good sampling of the rest of the writing inside the issue: “My Mother Comes Back from the Dead,” “Eleven,” “Thirteen,” and “Sen-Sen.” Themes of family, self, and gender appear repeatedly in these four, posthumously published pieces, bound together by a common voice. I imagined the same narrator speaking throughout the pieces.

Continue reading “Southern Humanities Review – 2018”

Runestone – 2018

In her editor’s note to Runestone Journal Volume 4, Gretchen Marquette writes about the value of literature and its role in helping us better understand ourselves. Recent research has shown how fiction improves our understanding of the world around us as well as make sense of our own predicaments. Marquette goes on to express this as the power of all literature, and thus the responsibility of writers old and new to “show us the way forward in our private moments of despair.”

Continue reading “Runestone – 2018”

Leaping Clear – Fall-Winter 2018

Works that ask: What is this? is what Leaping Clear values in its submissions. Artists and writers whose works are influenced by their involvement in meditative and contemplative practices will find a home here, as will readers who appreciate having a more interactive experience with what they read. Past issues included essay, fiction, music, video and photography, but this “Solstice” issue is focused solely on poetry and visual poetry.

Continue reading “Leaping Clear – Fall-Winter 2018”

SLICE – Fall 2018/Winter 2019

The cover of SLICE Issue 23 is a confluence of great design choices, from the gorgeous, slightly menacing artwork of Teagan White to the title itself, which sits, top-trimmed, like a visual onomatopoeia. The cover is glossy, the text is bright and easy to read, and the issue is slim but still substantial. The magazine exudes a contagious confidence, a sense that this, here, is everything a lit mag should be.

Continue reading “SLICE – Fall 2018/Winter 2019”

The Fiddlehead – Summer 2018

The Fiddlehead is published four times a year, devoting its Summer 2018 issue to poetry and reviews of poetry collections. The out-going co-editor, Ross Leckie, in his editorial opener, lets readers know that the special summer issues are “larger than the regular issues,” and “have the feel of something like an annual anthology.” Divided into three thematic sections each presented with a line from one of the poems within as a title and a black and white copy of the cover art—Waning Summer Light, 2017 by Sonya Mahnic—the issue contains poems by thirty-four poets and is packed with memorable work to keep company with even in the coldest of winters.

Continue reading “The Fiddlehead – Summer 2018”

Room – 2018

Room, published out of Canada, continues to live by their tagline “literature, art and feminism since 1975.” Room has come a long way from the white, middleclass, lesbian pieces of the 1970s. Editor Leah Golob is proud to say in her Editor’s Letter how “the magazine has taken greater care to feature a more nuanced, inclusive, and intersectional approach to gender and sexuality.” This issue is dedicated to queer writers who are either women or genderqueer. Through fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and art, this issue of Room proclaims queerness that is presented in bodies and in history, a queerness that is today and yesterday and always.

Continue reading “Room – 2018”

Chinese Literature Today – 2018

You don’t have to be an expert in Chinese literature to enjoy Chinese Literature Today (CLT). And though this issue is dedicated to Chinese science fiction, featuring science fiction writer Han Song, you don’t have to be an expert in science fiction either. CLT features fiction, poetry, and interviews, in addition to literary and film criticism all by Chinese or (for the first time) Chinese-American and Tibetan authors. Framed by introductory and contextual pieces such as “A Very Brief History of Chinese Science Fiction” by Wu Yan and Yao Jianbin, translated by Andrea Lingenfelter, CLT provides readers with necessary background. All the same, be aware that a good portion of the journal is dedicated toward academic articles and scholarship rather then wholly fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.

Continue reading “Chinese Literature Today – 2018”

Light and Dark Magazine – November 2018

Light and Dark Magazine’s name is also part of their mission: to publish work that displays both the light and the dark side of humanity. The online issues are bite-sized and easy to digest, providing just a few pieces to take in throughout the month until the next issue is published. The November 2018 issue features two new pieces of fiction—“You Do What You Have To” by James MacDonald and “Santa Madusa” by Siolo Thompson—and cover art by Abigail Bonnanzio.

Continue reading “Light and Dark Magazine – November 2018”

Hotel Amerika – Spring 2018

Glossy, heavy, and floppy, with a wingspan of seventeen inches and a page count of 310, Hotel Amerika, from a physical standpoint, is a struggle to read. The cover image, a sullen self-portrait by Canadian photographer Kourtney Roy, taken from her Autoportraits series, reimagines Snow White as a 1950s school dance wallflower, setting the mood for the eclectic mix of poetry and prose that follows. Roy’s wider body of work, available through her website, is an intriguing retro tour of America’s (and the wider world’s) physical and psychic landscape.

Continue reading “Hotel Amerika – Spring 2018”

Saw Palm – 2018

Fiction carries the day in Saw Palm 12, and the editors begin the issue with the genre via John Brandon’s smooth and seemingly unassuming “Hillsborough County Crime Report.” This was my first encounter with Brandon’s work—a fiction writer out of Florida who’s published almost exclusively through McSweeney’s. His story invites the reader into a side of Florida life captured often in film: the apparent world of organized crime. In this tale we meet The Driver and a chatty New Guy who was recently released from prison and is assigned to work with The Driver to tail a Subject.

Continue reading “Saw Palm – 2018”

Ruminate – Summer 2018

This month, I had the joy of reading Ruminate’s Summer 2018 issue “Hauntings,” and I know some of these stories will “haunt” me for a long time to come. Ruminate is a reader-supported contemplative literary arts magazine that explores the creativity, beauty, and irony in the human experience. They publish works from the viewpoint of all world religions and spiritualties, although many of the published stories, artwork, and poems do not have an overt connection to faith or spirituality. Continue reading “Ruminate – Summer 2018”

Wordrunner eChapbooks – Summer 2018

I generally don’t like to play favorites, but chapbooks are hands down my favorite books to read. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry—it doesn’t matter. If it’s a chapbook, I want to get my hands on it. Wordrunner eChapbooks offers a twist on the usual chapbook by bringing them online. Dedicating each of their issues to one writer, they create a digital chapbook, a great little showcase of one author’s work.

Continue reading “Wordrunner eChapbooks – Summer 2018”

Able Muse – Summer 2018

Anyone searching for a traditional approach and literary collection will be comfortable and entertained by the Summer 2018 edition of Able Muse. This edition of artwork, poetry, essays, fiction, and interviews provides both entertainment and insight in what can best be complimented by its traditional approach and content. The literary works and the featured art theme encourage the reader to look further into the associated online poetry workshop Eratosphere.

Continue reading “Able Muse – Summer 2018”

Little Star – 2017

Little Star 7 is understated, well-designed, bulky at nearly 400 pages, and packed with quality. The cover features “Blueblack Cold XIII” by Alison Hall, a work of subtle beauty best described by its title. The issue’s poetry is strong but mainly safe, invoking familiar gods and wonder at the workings of the world.

Continue reading “Little Star – 2017”

The Antioch Review – Spring 2018

The Antioch Review is a literary magazine produced in Ohio since 1941 and is one of the oldest literary magazines still published in America. It contains essays, fiction, and poetry from a variety of authors and has played a role in literary history, having included pieces produced by some of the most well-known writers, like Ralph Ellison and Sylvia Plath. The Spring 2018 issue of The Antioch Review sticks to the theme of “Love & Kisses, Lust & Wishes.” It’s an issue about love, about lust, about what we could want, and about what we never got to keep.

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Nimrod International Journal – Spring/Summer 2018

While it’s not new to group “the arts” under a single umbrella of creativity, Nimrod expands this umbrella even further to consider the arts merged with diversity. Editor Eilis O’Neal breaks the poetry and fiction down into two categories: work about the arts (broadly speaking), and work by diverse artists (broadly speaking). There’s no division between these two categories within the table of contents or anywhere in the magazine, creating a seamless flow from piece to piece. Nimrod is expansively inclusive in what defines art and what defines diversity. This inclusivity aids in how welcoming the magazine is. Nimrod creates a place to gather and share stories.

Continue reading “Nimrod International Journal – Spring/Summer 2018”

Star 82 Review – 2018

Available open access online with the ability to order quality print copy, reading Star 82 Review is like walking through an old home and discovering all kinds of cool nooks and crannies. It is filled with imagination and smart and searing perspectives succinctly conveyed in poetry and prose, including Word + Image, art, and erasure text. Each issue is identified by an erasure poem featured on the front cover. This issue: “applying for worlds of compromises and empathy.”

Continue reading “Star 82 Review – 2018”

RHINO – 2018

Each poem in this issue of RHINO seems to be in the throes of observing disaster or its aftermath and attempting to make sense out of senseless tragedy and sorrow. The result is powerful poetry from beginning to end, some poems so intense that time must pass to allow the turmoil to settle before reading on. Yeats’s haunting phrase “A terrible beauty is born” is apt to apply to these poems. They are beautiful in their lyric distillation of fear, sorrow, and grief, and are fitting in the current social and political climate.

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EVENT – Spring/Summer 2018

EVENT, a Canadian magazine published out of Douglas College, celebrates its thirtieth year printing a Notes on Writing issue. Established Canadian authors open the issue with essays reflecting on their lives as writers and writing as a piece of their lives. But more than simply reaching out to writers, EVENT grapples with questions writing can help answer, questions about discomfort and, at times, violence. Benjamin Hertwig’s Notes on Writing essay leaves us with the phrase, “uncomfortable in a most necessary way.” I couldn’t help but read the issue through that lens.

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Sheila-Na-Gig online – Fall 2018


Sheila-Na-Gig and I share a couple things in common, I recently discovered. We both came into the world in 1990, and neither of us can get enough poetry. The journal has grown and adapted in the past twenty-eight years, now an online magazine with quarterly contests for poets. The latest issue of Sheila-Na-Gig online features two poems by the latest winner, Rebecca Dettorre, as well as work by eighteen additional poets.

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The Meadow – 2018

This month, I had the enjoyment of reading the 2018 issue of The Meadow, a literary and arts journal published by the Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. This annual publication pulls together poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and artwork to make a collection that really encompasses great stories and representations of life, both in Nevada and throughout America’s heartlands.

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Birmingham Poetry Review – Spring 2018

The spring issue of Birmingham Poetry Review (BPR) is an assemblage of numerous pieces to inspire and stimulate. Form and function bestow imagery and metaphor in new and distinctive ways. The issue contains sixty-eight poems plus seven from featured poet, Gerald Stern, in addition to essays, reviews, and an interview, so there is much to savor and revisit at every reading.

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Sugar House Review – Fall/Winter 2017

There is something unusual about Sugar House Review. With its glossy paper and curious formatting, this magazine not only stands out among others but also delivers aesthetic pleasure to its readers. The Fall/Winter 2017 issue features simple yet bold design which, I am sure, will charm anyone holding it in their hands. In addition to its appealing design, Sugar House Review offers a great number of pieces that will excite attentive readers. This issue features poetry, “sugar astrology,” and an interview with Kevin McLellan whose poems appear on the earlier pages of the issue. Always curious to know about a poet’s process, I was delighted to see the inclusion of an interview that asks all of the indispensable questions giving a sneak peak into Kevin McLellan’s creative process.

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The Aurorean – Spring/Summer 2018

The Aurorean is a powerhouse of poetry. Published biannually out of Farmington, Maine, the Spring/Summer 2018 issue is sixty-one pages packed with works by seventy poets. For this reason, I would never recommend anyone read this full volume in one sitting. Doing so would leave any reader in a state akin to post-marathon exhaustion. Instead, this slim journal should be carried along your daily journey as a companion to life, to refresh your perspective, renew your vision, and deepen the experience of your existence.

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Ninth Letter – Spring/Summer 2018

The Spring/Summer issue of Ninth Letter is flashy, streaked through with fluorescent orange, graphic illustrations, and altered photographs. A self-described “collaborative arts and literary project,” the journal, which is based out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, connects art and design students with the MFA in Creative Writing program. The result is a fully-rounded version of the typically literature-dominated student-run journal.

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The Cincinnati Review – Summer 2018

Not long ago, the food writer Jeffrey Steingarten asked an intern where she was from. Amused by her answer, he replied with his trademark sneer, “I didn’t think one could live in Cincinnati.” The Queen City has taken its lumps over the years, but despite chocolate in chili and the often-frustrating Bengals, Cincinnati is emerging as one of America’s great, underrated cities. The culinary scene is exploding, vibrant murals bring life to street corners, the city’s sweetheart soccer team has just snagged an expansion slot from Major League Soccer, and community revitalization efforts shift the focus back from gentrified hotspots to the neighborhoods that need it most. Somewhere in this swirl of cultural growth sits The Cincinnati Review, a product of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of English and Comparative Literature.

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