New Ohio Review (/nor) clearly states, “This year we are particularly, though not exclusively, interested in innovative and cross-genre work that blurs conventional boundaries and resists easy definition.” /nor succeeds on all accounts. /nor is allusive, elusive, packed with experimental poetry, essays, fiction, philosophy, and everything in between – at once lyrical and pushing the boundaries of meaning, drawing from any and every source, exploring as well as indulging the natural slippage of language and the shifty exchange of meaning and context, where form is often as informative as text. One such example is Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s poem,“Draft 68: Threshold,” wherein words and, increasingly, entire lines and almost whole stanzas are blacked out as though at the hand of a censor, some silencing Other. This censorship leaves a “twist[ed] discourse,” “obliterates statement,” but ultimately is self-defeating, as what is blacked-out – these “wordless words” – becomes more interesting and more beautiful than what neutralized scraps are left.
Formal play and interactive reading/writing join in Thylias Moss’s “World View,” which takes the shape of a yet-unsolved math problem. The first element of the problem is a quote from Einstein and Infeld’s The Evolution of Physics: “To obtain a partial solution, the scientist must collect the unordered facts available and make them coherent and understandable by creative thought.” The quote is followed by three pages worth of solid text (the “unordered facts”) and the reader plays the part of the scientist by investing “creative thought” and working the material into coherence, imposing narrative structure. Closer to traditional fiction is François Camoin’s “Feathers from the Bird of Paradise,” the story of Nachtman, an updated incarnation of The Stranger, “a detached man” who “walks without purpose,” lives in his head, and rarely comes out except to read his books because little remains for him in this America, “this nation ruled by the mad and the imperious.”
Not to miss: Rosalind Morris’s non-fiction “The Age of Dinosaurs” is an examination of the connections between the American fascination with dinosaurs, the obsession of “youth and bigness,” and the notion of freedom. And finally, Marjorie Perloff and David Wojahn conduct “A Critical Exchange” on the poetry of Robert Lowell with great insight into the diverse schools of contemporary poetry and the evolution of the canon of American poets.
Other writers in this issue to check out include: Carla Harryman, Dean Young, Kristin Prevallet, Nathaniel Mackey, Charles Simic, Allen Grossman, Francis Ponge, Rodrigo Toscano, and more.
New Ohio Review takes big risks in this inaugural issue, challenging form, genre, and the reader. While not everything in this issue will be immediately accessible, big rewards are in order for any reader willing to take /nor up on its challenge to look at things differently.