Based out of Kansas City and Seattle, Bear Review is a new independent online biannual of poetry and micro-prose (under 500 words) as well as visual art. Between issues, Editors Marcus Myers and Brian Clifton also post Bear Review authors reading their work on Soundcloud and Tumblr.
In starting a literary magazine, Myers and Clifton say they like the juxtaposition inherent in those publications. "When reading one, you never know what will be on the next page--your new favorite poem? your best friend from childhood? a plot that destroys everything you though about storytelling? The possibilities are endless. We wanted to create a space in which this excitement could live and grow. Part of the fun for us is putting each issue in order and seeing how the text and images converse with one another. In a phrase, our mission is to keep our readers guessing."
And while the name Bear Review might seem to invite eco- or nature-themed writing, the inspiration expresses a more complex metaphor. When Myers was a teenager, he went hiking and came across a bear face-to-face. The experience was full of beauty that turned into danger and fear. Myers writes, "As readers, we crave that specific sort of encounter from each poem or flash piece we happen upon. Our favorite pieces, like literary bears, have a mix of beauty and danger that leaves us with a greater respect for what's real. And we want to share this vital wonder with our readers. "
Reader of Bear Review can expect to find this mix of beauty and danger throughout, though since the editors are both poets, the publication is bias to that genre. ("But we do love micro-prose," says Myers.) In both prose and poetry, Myers assure me that readers can expect to find a wide breadth of styles and contemporary modes as well as visual art from critically acclaimed photographers, illustrators, and painters.
Some recent contributors include Moikom Zeqo, Mathias Svalina, Jordan Stempleman, Lisa Russ Spaar, DA Powell, Rusty Morrison, Wayne Miller, Emily Koehn, Megan Kaminiski, Miriam Gamble, John Gallaher, Drew Cook, and Hadara Bar-Nadav.
Myers tells me that future plans for Bear Review are to continue making the journal "a beautiful place for the poems and prose we love; we want to continue to bring an audience there. We want to provide a place where established and soon-to-be established writers can share the same stage." A chapbook contest, website expansion for close readings, and book reviews and interviews are all in the works.
Bear Review takes submissions year round via submittable, and Myers and Clifton say they read each submission out loud. All work done as a labor of love, Bear Review is a welcome addition to the literary arts community.
[Cover: "Victim of Explosion" by August Sander, 1930]