is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more.

Umbrella - Winter 2009/2010

  • Issue Number: Issue 12
  • Published Date: Winter 2009-10
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual online

As an inveterate online surfer, I often find that online poetry magazines too often present work that is puerile and pretentious, without music and without depth. I was, therefore, overjoyed when I discovered this literary journal which has been around for the past three years. It is a very attractive production which is well organized and publishes some first rate poetry.

I started off with the fall issue in which I found the most enjoyable poem I have read in the past year. Rose Kelleher’s “A Knight’s Tour” concerns a chess board problem in which she imbues the knight with anthropomorphic qualities and immerses him in time, symbolism, and rebirth. The creativity here is simply topflight, with plays on words, and Jorge Borges is smiling from his grave in Argentina. The editor, demonstrating excellent discernment, has nominated the poem for a Pushcart Prize.

In the same issue is a brief essay by Don Kunz entitled “Slammed,” in which the author takes slam poetry to task. He writes, “But slam’s rapid-fire rap rhythms are tediously predictable, and the couplet rhyme scheme turns ideas into blunt greeting-card pronouncements. So, call it verse. Don’t call it poetry.”

Moving forward to the winter issue, editor Kate Benedict allows for a point-counterpoint by publishing an excellent slam poem by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, with all the rap rhythm and in-your-face aggression indigenous to the style. But there is sensitivity also – the end product probably being a few notches above what Mr. Kunz may have heard at his slam festival. A snippet:

Because there is poetry here, every cracked voice,
every stutter, every stumble is poetry. Every
shaky piece of paper held by shaky hands,
every nervous laugh, every awkward pause: poetry.

The featured poet in this issue is Cati Porter with six poems and an entertaining interview. The author is also a painter and enamored with Modigliani, consequently several of her poems have a lovely sensual quality emanating from his nude studies:

I lean away as if posing with my eyes closed
will avert your gaze,
though because my face is in shadow
you are drawn
to my breasts
pressed upon the foreground.

This lit mag calls itself “The supremely rereadable electronic journal,” and based on a perusal of the last two issues, they are right. Unfortunately, they are cutting back from quarterly to biannually, which is lamentable. This kind of quality should be available quarterly.

Return to List.
Review Posted on March 31, 2010

We welcome any/all Feedback.