The Colorado Review is one of the most reliably satisfying journals I know, with an editorial vision that is eclectic and generous, but not haphazard – a solid, but never stodgy collection of mature work. Summer 2008 features four short stories (by Kristin Fitzpatrick, Dawna Kemper, Lon Otto, and Kirsten Valdez Quade), all of which “accent the complex spaces between parents and their children,” and one of which, Valdez Quade’s “Den Mother,” is the winner of the 2007-2008 AWP Intro Journals Project, selected by Kwame Dawes. All constitute fine, enjoyable reading. These are competent, traditional stories with characters readers can care about and identify with.
Poetry this issue is particularly strong. I am thrilled to see new work from Stephanie Strickland, Alice Notley, Bruce Beasley, and Eleni Sikelianos, all of whose writing is exciting for the challenges they pose, formally and linguistically, and for the inventiveness, linguistically and philosophically, they embrace. I was impressed, as well, by beautifully crafted translations from Rosa Alcalá of poems by Chilean poet Cecilia Vicuña; and wonderful work by poets I had not read or had not paid sufficient attention to previously, including Christina Mengert, Patrick Whitgrove, and Linh Dinh.
I was intrigued, somewhat happily confused, and am curious to learn more about poet Pattie McCarthy, whose excerpts from “Spaltklang: Is Good Broken Music” appear here. McCarthy’s work is a dense compilation of materials from a vast variety of “notes and sources” which form part of the rich, overlapping registers of her poetic discourse.
Two short nonfiction pieces, “Terra Cognita” by Robert Root and “Being Margaret” by Margaret MacInnis, represent the best in creative nonfiction, combining the intrigue and richness of good fiction with personal revelations and observations. Root’s essay about a hiking trip on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine made me long to go again to Mount Desert Island, despite the fact that I no longer care for hiking and am typically bored by “nature writing.” This issue closes with intelligently rendered reviews of ten books, including fiction and poetry from commercial and independent presses.