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Phoebe - Fall 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 35 Number 2
  • Published Date: Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

Phoebe is a biannual journal of fiction, poetry, art and special features (interviews, art/text collages, etc.). It's quite a prestigious review and, like others in this niche, features a certain kind of poetry. It's Greg Grummer Poetry Award winner, Lynn Xu, epitomizes this. In "[Language exists because]," she writes: "Language exists because nothing exists between those / who express themselves. All language is therefore / a language of prayer." Phoebe poems are ethereal, professional, self-referential, and stocked with learned references; they are lyric, careful, restrained, polite and exact. Most often, they are about language and writing, about Art. They are always competent, but they generally lack vitality. They are never rough-hewn, desperate or gritty. They're never funny. There is undoubtedly a big market for this type of poem, and writers such as Xu perform it with elegance, poise and economy. The poems are fussy and rather affected, sometimes quite sterile, but they are refined and euphonious. One gets the sense of clever MFA students texting each other, but not of broken people who've lived life. The fiction is much, much better, which is typical of high-end reviews; "The Orchard" by Jacob Appel (Winter Fiction Contest winner) is a stand-out. The art is good if also quite incidental, which is what seems to happen when literary journals feel compelled to go graphic; the visual work isn't fully realized or integrated with the written texts in a meaningful way. [] –Andrew Madigan

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Review Posted on June 30, 2006

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