In a brief introductory note, editor Maria Mazziotti Gillan reveals that the journal receives 10,000 submissions annually. I wish there were as many people regularly reading and subscribing to these sorts of reviews as there are submitting to them! We are lucky that dedicated editors like Mazziotti Gillan are willing to do the challenging work year in and year out to keep journals like the Paterson Literary Review alive. Selected recently by Library Journal as one of the ten best literary magazines in the country, the review continues to offer readers the best of well-known writers and those “whose work is so fine it should be better known” – a much more apt and respectful phrase than “emerging” or any of the other terms used to define writers whose reputations are not as impressive as their work.
This issue includes a special section by visual artist and poet, Al Tacconeli, who has donated much of his private art collection to the Passaic County Community College which publishes the journal. His poems and Matisse-like cut-out drawings are similar in style to each other, the reader/spectator wants to stand back from them and give their deceptively simple edges a chance to sink in (“Disgusted with loneliness, he fled / the crowded, noisy bar / drove down First”). Tacconelli is followed by an impressive line-up: poems by more than 60 poets, a combination of really big names whose appearance in the same Table of Contents seems striking in and of itself (Diane di Prima, Marge Piercy, Vivian Shipley, Hilda Raz, Louis Jenkins, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, A.D. Winans, Charles Harpher Webb, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Gary Fincke, Jim Daniels), and “the deserve to be better known” (Daniela Gioseffi, Leigh Philiips, Christine Gelineau); eight prose pieces; a short portfolio of flash fiction by Francine Witte; two essays; the 2006 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards winners, honorable mentions, and editors’ choice selections, which include the work of more than 40 poets; and several reviews.
While the subject matter treated in this enormous variety of work is certainly vast, inclusive, and unconstrained, the journal has a clear editorial predilection for both poetry and prose that favor the language of the quotidian. This is not to say that the sentiments and ideas expressed are without depth or deep consequence, as Hilda Raz concludes in “Vocation”: “you should write a book some day, / shouldn’t you write a book, shouldn’t everyone / who has met death in the window and put him off / write a book?”