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Columbia - 2004

  • Subtitle: A Journal of Literature & Art
  • Issue Number: Issue 39
  • Published Date: 2004

The interviews (sometimes a dull spot in literary magazines) are a highlight of this issue of Columbia. In Mary Phillips-Sandy’s talk with culture critic Camille Paglia, high priestess of free associaters (think female, literary Robin Williams), Paglia offers an energetic mix of liberal, conservative, and crackpot views—the dead giveaway of an open mind at work. She compares Stephen King to Edgar Allan Poe, to the glory of both; takes a passing whack at Joyce Carol Oates’ prose style (“I can’t believe she just throws that stuff out there!”); and is a great proponent of the Web, for which she began writing “early on,” but admits to composing her first drafts “by hand with a real pen on real paper.” Lytton Smith’s interview with master poet Robert Mezey is equally refreshing and candid. (“If it’s not a pleasure to read poetry, what the hell do you do with it?”) And the two poems Mezey contributes, “Hardy” and “Tea Dance at the Nautilus Hotel (1925),” are true formalist beauties. Joan Houlihan, poet and penner of fierce and clear-sighted essays on the state of the art today, offers “Injury,” a gem of her own that by way of its original rhythms and its difficult love for the world put me in mind of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Distinguished short fiction and portraits by three photographers with divergent conceptions of beauty round out the issue. Columbia is elegant and bold and unselfconsciously diverse, and its fascination with the written word and with those who make it their calling is contagious.

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Review Posted on February 28, 2005
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