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  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date May 2017
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online

Blood Orange Review has existed for eleven years and has continued to stick to their founding mission: “to create a home for the emerging and established writers.” The May 2017 issue gives a home to twelve writers and one interview with Rita Wong.

  • Subtitle Maps & Legends
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  • Issue Number Issue 2 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Published out of Virginia Commonwealth University, Broad Street: A Magazine of True Stories, bridges personal and researched knowledge in creative nonfiction. The journal furthers what it means to tell true stories. This issue, themed Maps & Legends, goes where no map can lead to find truth: exploring what it means to be a foreigner.

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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online

It's overwhelming to think of the number of people we see daily and try to imagine their individual lives, their hidden stories. John Koenig calls the sudden realization of everyone having their own story "sonder,” and bioStories lends a hand in coping with sonder by giving readers nonfiction glimpses into the lives and stories of those around us. New work is added to the website weekly, with two PDF anthologies of this work released per year.

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  • Issue Number Volume 42 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

The Black Warrior Review (BWR), published out of the University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, mixes the bizarre with the familiar in issue 42.2. Best summed up by Megan Milks in their chapbook “The Feels”— a legitimization of queer pairing in fanfiction communities—this issue expands “what is possible in both the actual world and the world of the text.”

  • Subtitle Texas Poetry Review
  • Issue Number Number 27
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

There's nothing particularly distinctive about Borderlands, but it does contain some fine poems, and there's nothing wrong with that. Many of the poets here take small moments for their subject matter, suggesting larger introspection, as in a poem by Eric James Cruz. Here, an early morning run in a beautiful, pastoral place puts the poet in a meditative state of mind: “It is good to come here, / this happens to be your life, / this cradle of dark things, / this place in need of naming.”

  • Issue Number Volume 57 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

BPJ publishes some serious poetry, and by that I mean finely-tuned, well-crafted poems that may require two or three or twenty readings to reveal themselves to you. There's nothing “fun” or “hip” here, and I say this not as a value judgment on “fun” or “hip” or even “serious,” but so that readers new to this venerated journal know what to expect.

  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

A lot of litmags call themselves contemporary, but Backwards City Review is one of the few that truly feels like a product of the 21st century. It's not just the alt comics and offbeat fiction, but the awareness that literature and art can, indeed, be fun. Dorothy Gambrell's Cat and Girl comic, for instance, presents a waitress (girl) and an indecisive customer (cat) trying to decide on an order. (What's “the anthropomorphic platter?” “Beef tongue on a roll.”)

  • Issue Number Issue 7
  • Published Date Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Enclosing 76 pages of innovative wordplay by contributors, Bird Dog constitutes a thin journal. But the density of material it contains ranks Bird Dog’s seventh issue among my favorites, one of the reasons for which is the cover—an electric orange with many dogs howling at a birdlike black gnash. My first dive into the material brought to face a labyrinth of giddy texts, where sentences sprang in every direction with ease. Most works deserve praise for their innovation.

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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Booth never fails to present a beautiful product, and Issue 9 is no exception. In fact, it’s such a beautifully produced issue, I wrote notes about it in a separate journal, unable to bring myself to scribble in the margins and ruin a good thing. A green color scheme starts on the cover with art by Jillian Nickell—a house on a hill that’s actually a sleeping creature’s back—and carries through the entire issue. Even the inside cover flaps are donned with colorful art. Luckily, the editors put in just as much care in their writing selections, so readers guilty of judging books by covers will not be disappointed when they read the work this issue of Booth holds.

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  • Issue Number Issue 15
  • Published Date 2016
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

The 15th issue of Bop Dead City was released last month with the theme “Dreams,” a dreamlike state carrying over to much of the work in this issue.

This issue of The Bitter Oleander is heavy on translations and features an interview with writer and editor Nicomedes Suárez-Araúz as well as a selection of his poetry, which, overall, provides an international flavor to the collection. The translations in this issue are accompanied by the pieces printed in their original languages, from German to Spanish to Swedish, which I think adds nuances to the reading that otherwise might not be caught.

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  • Issue Number Number 23
  • Published Date 2016
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Micro-mag Blink Ink has seen some exciting changes thus far in 2016, including a new and improved website, a special glossy-covered issue at the beginning of the year, and in the latest, #23, a postcard insert of Kristin Fouquet’s black and white, gender-bending photograph “Edgar Allen Poe-Boy.” But there’s more to Blink Ink than a new site and a fun postcard: there are also great little poems packed into every issue, issues small enough to comfortably fit in the back pocket of one’s jeans.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 1
  • Published Date Midsummer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Too beautiful by half, BardsongThe Journal for Celebrating the Celtic Spirit, is an unabashed 8.5 x 11-inch publication devoted—in both senses—to the Celtic theme which is expressed by Assistant Editor Kathleen Cunningham Guler as: "[. . .] hiraeth. Untranslatable into English, my own understanding of it has come to mean several ideals: a melancholy longing for an unfulfilled dream of the way things should have been; a need to return to the ancientness of our culture and people; and that beneath the surface of what we consciously see in the present world lies another place, one that is sacred and holds the secrets that are the heart of our heritage."
Poetry dominates the spring edition of Bitter Oleander, a handsome, glossy journal produced by Bitter Oleander Press. This issue features work by twenty-six poets, with six excellent translations among them. Standouts include David Johnson’s stark and affecting three-part poem “Morning” and Christine Boyka Kluge’s “Swallowing Darkness”: “This is the time of night / when blackest dreams unfold / like bats from secret eaves.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date January 2016
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Brilliant Flash Fiction, the online literary magazine, is all about the flash. Individual issues are made up of one continuously scrolling page, eliminating the distraction of returning to a table of contents or turning digital pages, and there’s no PDF download required. The stories fall down the page in quick succession, accented by the flashes of color the accompanying photographs provide. Readers are carried from one story to the next with just enough time to get acclimated to whichever setting or character’s mind we’re suddenly thrust into.
  • Issue Number Number 15
  • Published Date 2003
I expected something devoted a bit more to Southwestern literature, since Blue Mesa Review is published at the University of New Mexico, but this appeared to be a standard literary magazine without regional focus. This issue is jam packed with great essays, stories, and poems, including “Weathering the Freeze” by Bonnie Jo Campbell, a visceral description of sub-zero weather on a farm in Michigan; “Black Box,” by Katherin Nolte, a short story about a woman having an affair with a man whose wife becomes a zombie, quite possibly because the philandering woman’s husband knows voo-doo and has discovered his wife’s affair; and a long section featuring Gene Frumkin’s poetry, whose work “succeeds above ground and deep in the mine shaft.” Because I love non-fiction rooted in a sense of place, my favorite piece in this issue is an essay by Jennifer Brice, entitled “Wild Music: Reflections on Big Oil and Innocence.” In it, Brice explores the Alaskan past and present, explaining that yes, the “pipeline” and “oil” changed Alaska in myriad ways, but the core part of Alaska that “seems unwilling to compete with or improve upon nature” has remained the same. [Blue Mesa Review, University of New Mexico, Dept. of English/Hum 217, Albuquerque, NM 87131. E-mail: . Single issue $12. http://bluemesareview.org] - JP
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  • Issue Number Number 5
  • Published Date 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
BULL Number 5 is covered in colorful, urban-styled art, created by the late Patrick Haley, whose work is profiled at length in this issue. Inside, his black and white drawings of surreal settings, strange creatures, and highly-detailed settings take influences from a variety of interesting visual sources such as Salvador Dali, R. Crumb, Heavy Metal magazine, and street graffiti. Each of the thirteen pages of drawings and sketches plucked from the artist’s notebooks tells a story, even the most basic “practice” sketches, with a couple in particular that could make one feel as though they could fall right into the page.
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  • Published Date Winter 2014/15
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If focus is the key to success, Barrow Street is throwing straight bullseyes. Forget author interviews, genre-jumping, and flashy art, and delve into the text, straight into the words on the page. The Winter 2014/15 issue has a simple no-nonsense design. Authors are listed alphabetically. Bios are found at the back in fine print jammed together to save precious real estate. No editor’s letter. No ads. Just a tight masthead and a New York address and 96 outstanding poems, running the gamut from short and sweet to epic and tragic. Sixty-two poets are published, ranging from first-timers to big names from big institutions with supporting bibliography. Whatever process the Barrow Street editors and readers are using to sift through their slush, which I imagine to be a mountainous snow bank, doesn’t change a thing: because it is working. Since 2000, they have had 18 poems selected to be anthologized in Best American Poetry.
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  • Issue Number Volume 21, Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Bitter Oleander’s autumn issue is a motherlode of bold interpretations softened with poems like the delightfully introspective, “I Don’t Want to Write” by Simon Anton Nino Diego Raena. “Leave me alone, please. / All I want is to enjoy the solitude of being / a nonentity in this lightless balcony.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Fall 2015 Bellevue Literary Review from NYU’s Langone Medical Center operates under the subtitle “Embattled: Ramifications of War.” Self-described as a “journal of humanity and human experience” this issue focuses specifically on narratives surrounding not only war, but war’s varying and often heartbreaking effects on the human experience. The short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction explore delicate topics such as PTSD, death on the frontlines, and post-deployment readjustments with an unflinching matter-of-factness paired with beautiful language.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Bone Bouquet is a biannual print journal that features poetry by women writers. The Spring 2015 issue includes a varied range of voices and styles, and a satisfying selection of creative forms. The speakers throughout are strong, self-aware, and are unafraid to expose their flaws. This slim volume covers topics of grief, loss, and self-consciousness, while also displaying the beauty of language through several complex descriptions of the surrounding world.
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  • Issue Number Number 42
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In addition to offering readers a hefty volume of contemporary poetry from accomplished writers, the Spring 2015 issue of the Birmingham Poetry Review also includes an interview with featured poet Allison Joseph, a couple of useful poetry-focused essays, and a lengthy review section.
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  • Issue Number Volume 18 Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Blue Collar Review: Journal of Progressive Working Class Literature is a small, targeted magazine filled with voices insisting on being heard. The editorial introduction to this issue states, “Poems in this collection speak of both the pride and the misery of work. They flesh out the real insecurity and resentment of underpaid and tenuous jobs and the seeming hopelessness of unemployment.”
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  • Issue Number Number 95
  • Published Date Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brick is a biannual magazine based in Toronto, Canada, with many of the contributors living in Toronto or elsewhere in Canada. Undeniably, then, Brick has a Canadian slant.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4
  • Published Date Fall 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Smaller journals are vulnerable to becoming just another magazine in the ever-expanding literary world. It is up to the individual journals themselves to find a way to separate their art from the countless others in circulation. Border Crossing, now four issues old (founded in 2011), appears to embrace this challenge and continues to deliver high-quality work while experimenting with unique features such as their “Michigan and Ontario” section.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Before I began reading this issue of Black Warrior Review I skimmed its pages to see what they had in store for me. As it turned out, the pages held more than I could have ever expected, such as a chapbook by Nicole Walker, the graphic prose of Jeffery Chapman, a small section of featured work which includes everything from fiction and nonfiction to a graphic short story and artwork by Melissa Zexler. Needless to say that before I even started this issue, my mind was buzzing with excitement to read every single page.
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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 2
  • Published Date March/April 2015
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum, which publishes six issues per year, recentlycelebrated its fortieth anniversary, and that level of time and experience is evidenced by the high quality of the writing and the magazine’s simple yet elegant design. Aesthetically, I enjoyed how the poems were contained within thinly outlined boxes, the dimensions of which changed to best suit the need of each individual piece.
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  • Issue Number Volume 26
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Great art has a distinctive voice, one that draws the reader into story, into a narrative or a lyric, into a situation or moment. For the duration, the reader lives under the influence of that voice and consequently feels a sadness at the finish, upon leaving. If the voice is strong, well-crafted, fine-tuned, easy to sink into, without artifice, aware only of its purpose and the story, the reader will be left satisfied.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle 9-Month
When sitting down to read Burnside Review, I feel you have to be in the right mood: opening to something different with every turn of the page, and craving something that makes you see things in a new way. At my first sit-down, I wasn’t quite prepared, but during my second chance, I got lost in the words, wanting more when I had finished.
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  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2014
  • Publication Cycle Semi-Annual
Only two stories—but two big stories, longer than short stories and shorter than novels, big in word count and big in quality—is what this beautiful issue of Big Fiction offers. When you read the website, you think: big ambition! When you hold the book, you think: big, admirable taste in design and material! When you dive into the stories you think: big winners! big pleasure! big success! This issue is, to put it in big letters, EXCELLENT. SPECTACULAR. WELL WORTH YOUR TIME.
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  • Issue Number Volume 14 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Big Muddy contains a lot of technically very good writing. Descriptive pieces of fiction and poetry are showcased throughout its pages. The glossy cover photo of a filthy rider by Bradley Phillips should be interpreted as an invitation to explore in detail the trails that others have forged. I am left feeling the pages are a little devoid of emotion compared to a number of other publications I've reviewed, but that is the wonderful thing about the wide world literary magazines: there is a venue for all types! Speaking of trails, one of the 18 poems included is titled “Trails Are Trials” by James Valvis. The poem speaks to giving over to circumstances in life and surviving, regardless. I especially enjoyed the following lines, "Each step I could not be sure / the ground would catch my foot. / The trail grew muddy, treacherous."
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
“I like folksy vulgarity. I don’t say that because ‘folksy vulgarity’ is a good way to describe the contents of this issue of Bat City Review. I say it because one of my favorite scenes from a novel takes place in Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel,” writes Alen Hamza in the editorial preface. And thus begins the Fall 2014 issue of Bat City Review.
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  • Issue Number Number 10
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
As the title of the journal suggests, Breakwater Review is the in-between. “We are both the literal space between ocean and shore and the virtual space between reader and writer. And as it turns out, we want to read about other places like us—those liminal spaces in life.” Their tenth and current issue demonstrates this through a number of poems and a couple of prose pieces.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Broad Street has created a viable option for literary end table collections. In this issue, several mediums of storytelling are combined, allowing readers both a visual and multifaceted verbal display. Hunt/Gather was the proposed theme, and I do feel it is somewhat of a challenge to the reader. Loose definitions of the terms seem to have been used by the editors in compiling the pieces presented. By getting a little too hung up on wanting traditional definitions, I feel like I missed some of the simple beauty available in the pages that I can easier see in reflection.
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  • Issue Number Issue 13
  • Published Date Fall 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Fall in the Midwest is a time for snuggles, blankets, reading, and a new issue of The Boiler. While the fiction and nonfiction were enjoyable, it was the poetry that warmed me up inside. In “Things I Know,” Megan Collins reminisces about part of her family she never knew—her grandfather.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Short Fiction Issue 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Playing parts both online and in print, Booth chose this year to put out a special short fiction issue, packed with many of the best pieces from the online edition as well as the winners of the 2013 Booth Story Prize. All the stories included in this issue are imaginative and well worth the read.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
One of the best young journals out there is burntdistrict, each issue promises tons of beautiful, thought provoking, and unique contemporary poetry and this issue is no different from all the rest. In its third year of publication, burntdistrict is still going strong and publishing some of the best up–and-coming and well-established writers from across the world. One of the most interesting poems in this issue is Alexander Lumans’s poem “What We Don’t Know About Natalie Portman Can Still Hurt Us.” This poem masterfully uses the narrator’s obsession with the actress and the narrator’s lack of knowledge about her to reflect how obsessed society is with things unknown
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  • Issue Number Volume 20 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Spring 2014 issue of The Bitter Oleander is like a smorgasbord laden with curious-looking food that you’re not sure you would like, and which even seem a little intimidating. But egged on by your adventurous spirit and that childhood admonition at the dinner table—you don’t have to like everything, but you ought to try everything—you pick it up and discover that the rewards can be great indeed. The magic lies in the deft mix of the accessible and the unfamiliar, in the selections as a whole as well as in the individual pieces.
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  • Issue Number Volume 14 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published by the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, Bellevue Literary Review explores literature that addresses aspects of the human condition that relate to health, healing, and disease. In this volume, selections of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction recover images from hospital rooms and doctors’ offices, caregivers’ homes and nurses’ stations. They find language deeply rooted in the human body, with all its strength and resilience, limitation and vulnerability. These selections speak a common language with which most of us can identify and relate.
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 1
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Every 9 Months
If I were a better thief, I’d steal this entire sentence from “Zodiacs,” by William Doreski, one of a handful of stellar poems in the most recent Burnside Review: “I’m afraid / to live in the suburbs, afraid / that no one loves anyone / without consulting the zodiacs / half occluded by pollution / from coal-fired power plants.” Maybe Doreski will let me have it if I say these lines are transcendent, which, pretty much, they are.
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  • Issue Number Issue 7
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Bop Dead City is a humble, independent, quarterly literary magazine. At first glance it may seem to lack the finesse of larger magazines, but upon closer inspection, the reader will be pleasantly surprised to see interesting cover art as well as poetry and fiction that can and will inspire us all to read more or to pick up a pen and begin to write. This issue focuses on work surrounding loss and attempts to grasp onto the ever-elusive intersection of what was, what now is.
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  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The cover of the spring issue of Black Magnolias: A Literary Journal is striking, bold, and black & white, moving across the page displaying Alex Nodopaka’s Speed Wind Black Magnolias. It suggests an issue with writing that inspire movement and reaction; the issue does not disappoint on this account.
  • Issue Number Issue 81
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brick is an excellent literary journal printed out of Toronto specializing mostly in nonfiction, though it publishes poems, stories and interviews.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
When you first hold the poetry journal Bateau in your hands, it reminds you of a well-crafted chapbook with some abstract art of a flat bottomed boat (the journal’s namesake), or if you are not in the know, like some strange design project from a school of design student with a wash of blue coming out in the form of the boat’s canopy. The poems here tell a human narrative that is instantly recognizable no matter the form or the foreign or alien way in which a topic is often tackled.
  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of Basalt, an Eastern Oregon University issued poetry and short prose journal, contains the work of seventeen writers and one visual artist: Timothy C. Ely, whose book The Observatory demands close scrutiny and makes the viewer look at the heavens differently. Many of the poems should also be studied, especially the ones mentioned herein.
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  • Published Date September 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
With a selection of two poets and two pieces of fiction, this issue of The Bacon Review offers a spotlight on four writers, giving all of the writers the focus they deserve.
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  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
With this issue, I started backwards, working my way from the bottom of the table of contents on up. After I read the creative nonfiction and the fiction, I couldn’t wait to move on to the poetry. This issue is filled with solid writing that breaks the boundaries of traditional writing and that surprises by heading toward cliché and then rocketing away from it.
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  • Issue Number Issue 45
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Brevity, the staple for flash nonfiction writing, puts forth another fascinating issue, with authors I couldn’t wait to read.
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  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Last week my creative nonfiction writing class workshopped a piece about one student’s experience with ADD in elementary school. He described zigzag thoughts, hypersensitive ears, rising frustration, and a positively entertaining rage, in a perfectly modulated eight-year-old voice; he then took us through the process of diagnosis, disastrous prescription of inappropriate meds, and ultimately courageous development of a customized program that enabled him to manage the disorder satisfactorily. His understated irony, his consistent voice, and the beautifully appropriate imagery made the piece one of the most successful our class has seen this semester.
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  • Issue Number Issue 7
  • Published Date March 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Brevity Poetry Review publishes—what should be obvious from the title—short poems, all coming in at under 30 lines. Each issue puts forth just 10 of these short poems, giving more weight to each one. And this issue contains no mediocre poems; they are all worth reading.
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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date January 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
The Blue Route is a national online journal for undergraduate students. This issue offers writers from Carnegie Mellon University, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Susquehanna University, University of Colorado Denver, University of Houston, and University of South Florida. The writing is of high quality and is enjoyable to read.
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  • Issue Number Issue 87
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brick is one of those journals that makes you feel a little inadequate, but in a good way. You realize, after reading, the vast amount of interesting and impressive writers who have somehow stayed hidden from you. It’s not only a matter of discovering new, contemporary voices you hadn’t yet had the pleasure of hearing (though that’s certainly part of it), but one of being exposed to established authors as well, those who have been around for years and—apparently—already have a good deal of clout to their names (even though you have no idea who they are). This latest issue of the Canadian-born magazine does a wonderful job of making you want to learn more about these men and women, to run to the library and check out every one of their books.
The range of experience represented in this annual publication is of particular interest — poets and fiction writers as sophisticated or widely published as Denise Duhamel, Peter Johnson, William Greenway, Antler, and Mark Brazaitis (among others) alongside newcomers Thomas Graves and Audrey Doire. With more than two dozen poems and a half dozen stories, there is much to contemplate and appreciate here.
  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2003
With its introspective and lyrical qualities, the writing in Bellingham Review invokes the brief northern daylight and drizzly afternoons of the little bayside town, just south of the British Columbian border, which is its namesake. But don’t misunderstand: this unassumingly slender journal (which must be one of the country’s most beautifully designed) is neither slack nor unadventurous; its pages contain all the great weight and mass of true literature. While the 22 poems tend to induce a mellow and reflective state of mind, they are never staid, never complacent, and are nearly always—whether on a grand or quotidian scale—breathtaking.
  • Issue Number Number 20
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2003
This journal out of Texas presents poetry, art work, photography, and reviews in a slim, perfectly bound package with good production values. The appealing poetry within captures a cross-section of American writing that balances heart and art; these works are beautiful in and of themselves but also strive to mean something. For instance, the poem “On Forgetting” by Megan Snyder-Camp plays on well-known proverbs to display a deeper truth about motherhood, as in the following:
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2003
The thirtieth anniversary edition of BWR starts out strong with “Mother of Pearl Clouds,” a poem by Larissa Szporluk that ends with a line articulating what is possibly the impetus of all art: “let’s not let them / think that we’re just passing.” And it just gets better from there, offering fiction, nonfiction, interviews and a chapbook, all of which are smart and enjoyable.
  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
An elegantly slim volume, the Fall 2006 Bellingham Review is an eclectic collection with the slight political edge of interviews with two poets: Gerald Stern: "So I don't know where all my leftist influence comes from, maybe it was just in the air, but I identified with them. I was a socialist."in conversation with Kate Beles; and Robb St. Lawrence's interview of Rita Dove: "I admire the Star Trek universe for the way it has always encapsulated our social structures and put them on spaceships, and I love the way they disregard race and other ‘differences.’”
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The selections in this issue reflect the goal of the editors who claimed they sought to “embody different methods of collection and obsession.” The magazine is rich in literary diversity from Jesse Jacob’s comic, “Oh, What a Cruel God we’ve Got” to K.A. Hays’s chapbook, Some Monolith.
  • Issue Number Issue 69
  • Published Date December 2009
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
I read a selection of stories from three different online publications and was bored with the same old same old (I find it hard to believe that editors think anyone is going to read this banal stuff), and then I stumbled on to The Barcelona Review. Thanks goodness! The editors really live in Barcelona and say, “We like good, powerful, potent stuff that immediately commands attention, shows stylistic and imaginative distinction, and is literarily sound.” Well, who doesn’t? But these people really publish it.
  • Issue Number Volume 7 Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2003-04
What Blue Collar Review succeeds in doing, I think, is putting a human face on nearly every problem you’ve seen on the nightly news in recent years. War, layoffs, violence, crap jobs, bad schools: these are the subjects of the poetry published here. I have to be honest: not every piece is very well crafted, but what some poems lack in skill they make up for in conviction. As I write this, the U.S. is attempting damage control on the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, and Mike Maggio’s “Collateral Damage” is an impressive litany of mind-numbing public apology snippets that certainly fits this situation as well. An excerpt: “(we swear on our mothers) / (we swear on the flag) / (we swear on the bible) / (we swear on the corporation) / (we’re sorry).” Amy E. Oliver’s “Professional Chef,” about what really goes on in restaurant kitchens, took me back to my waitress years (“the sick onion grease stench” indeed!), and I admired the quiet dignity of Jeff Vande Zande’s “Losing Work,” about a laid-off man fearing loss of respect by his family yet finding support from his wife. If you like poetry by and for the people, you’ll want to pick up a copy of this magazine. [Blue Collar Review, Partisan Press, P.O. Box 11417, Norfolk, VA 23517. E-mail: . Single issue $5. http://www.Partisanpress.org] - JQG
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2005
An incredibly strong awards issue with work that is funny, moving, surprising, and memorable, and, though I mean this in the most positive way imaginable…strange. If you're tired of coming-of-age poems or skeptical about poems that work to be humorous, Christopher Bursk's "E Pluribus Unum" (chosen by Lucia Perillo for the 49th Parallel Poetry Award) will forever alter your view of poems about adolescence and the use of humor in poetry. Creative Nonfiction Judge Paul Lisicky says Bonnie J. Rough's winning essay, "Slaughter: A Meditation Wherein the Narrator Explores Death and the Afterlife as Her Spiritual Beliefs Evolve," "shines with its fusion of gravity and wackiness."
  • Issue Number Volume 22
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Beloit’s annual journal of fiction contains engaging stories with clear prose. Every literary magazine usually has at least one story in which I feel the author’s style detracts from the characters or narrative – one of my biggest pet peeves – but I couldn’t find that fault in any of these stories.
  • Issue Number Issue 50
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Despite having to evacuate the city during the fall term, Bayou’s editorial staff nevertheless had time to compile an impressive selection of work. Especially notable are the nonfiction pieces and George Pate’s “Indifferent Blue,” winner of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival One-Act Play Competition.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Sometimes, very good things can happen on a shoestring when capable people decide to jump in and fill a niche. That seems to be the case with burntdistrict, a new poetry journal from Omaha, Nebraska.
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  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle 9-month
Burnside Review is a beautiful and compact little book. Subdued and nostalgic tones greet the reader via full-sized photographs on both covers that complement each other and set the feel for the contents: introspective and aesthetically conscious poetry that begs the active attention of the reader. Burnside begins sans editor’s note or introduction, opting instead (and starting with the cover) to let the selections speak for themselves. As each page is turned, the magazine reveals a strengthening theme of contemplation of the human condition, with a sprinkle of Americana and a return to the nostalgia of the cover.
  • Subtitle {Men's Fiction}
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  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
BULL {Men’s Fiction} is best described as “handsome,” both for its subject matter and its appearance. The journal boasts a clean, striking design and attractive line illustrations by James-Alexander Mathers and Patrick Haley. I expected BULL editor Jarrett Haley to explain his journal’s subtitle in its debut print issue. Perhaps Haley’s silence is an indication that he wishes the reader to forge his or her own concept of what “men’s fiction” means.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Bad Version is a new literary magazine, and this is only its second issue. While showing many signs of promise, the magazine is clearly still suffering some growing pains. The mission statement on their website says that the name of the journal “comes from the collaborative art of screenwriting, where the first attempt at a scene, that wild idea that gets the process going, is called a ‘bad version.’ Likewise, this magazine is dedicated to beginnings: to pieces that are taking risks, trying to broach new ideas, experimenting with new forms, starting new conversations.”
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Rarely can a literary magazine balance innovative and mainstream material so effortlessly. The Spring/Summer edition of the always innovative Black Warrior Review adroitly incorporates not only short stories, poetry, and art, but a veritable activity book for the literary-minded but child-at-heart brand of reader.
  • Issue Number Issue 47
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
According to the Editor’s Note, this is the first issue of Bayou Magazine from the University of New Orleans to be produced after Hurricane Katrina. The cover features a photograph of Bayou St. John, which flooded during the hurricane. In this context, it’s hard not to see this magazine as a small miracle, a reflection of “both the promise of new beginnings and the determination to persevere,” as editor Joanna Leake writes.
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  • Issue Number Volume 12 Issue 2
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Mississippi River holds a special place in American literature. Mark Twain wrote extensively about it in his memoir, “Life on the Mississippi”: “The Mississippi is well worth reading about. It is not a commonplace river, but on the contrary is in all ways remarkable.” Big Muddy, a literary journal published by the Southeast Missouri State University Press, is as remarkable as the mighty river it is named after. This journal delivers stories, poems, and essays related to the Mississippi River Basin and its bordering ten-state area, but you don’t have to live in this area of the United States to enjoy the writings collected in this issue.
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  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue features a marvelous interview with and series of poems by Ana Minga, a young journalist and poet from Ecuador, whose work is translated here by Alexis Levitin. Having grown up in a religious community where her father worked, Minga says her childhood ended at age six; she suffered dreadful insomnia by age 11; and by her teens she was writing and publishing award-winning poetry. Her best friends, she claims, are her dogs; investigative journalism provides the adrenalin “rush” she needs to thrive. Her work reflects these realities:
Beloit Poetry Journal excels at showcasing fresh voices with original and sometimes difficult things to say. They never exhibit the mediocre or merely pleasant, and I think that is a particularly trustworthy (and brave) stance for a journal’s editors. The dark side of sexuality and language is explored in this issue of the predictably good Beloit Poetry Journal, in poems like the exceedingly creepy “Molester” by Jeff Crandall and the delicate but heart-wrenching “Helen Keller Dying in Her Sleep” by Julianna Baggott.
The closest this University of New Mexico journal comes to evoking the Southwest is in an "Elegy" for James Turrell, by Mark McKain, in which the author witnesses a sunset through one of the visual artist's holed cathedral ceilings and comes to grips with his mortality. (Turrell is, of course, still very much alive.) Yet the format and style of the Blue Mesa Review is not out of place: it's in the line of the coastal émigrés who have come to define the former frontier and brought their experiences with them.
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2005-06
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Black Clock is hands down the best looking literary magazine I've ever picked up. To begin with, it's a huge 8" x 11" volume with full color graphics not only on the cover but throughout the magazine. The inside layout is both graphically intense and minimalist at the same time, visually engaging without distracting from the writing itself. Luckily, Black Clock's looks aren't the only thing it has going for it—it's got personality too.
  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The continuing premise of the Bellevue Literary Review is to express, through words, all the emotion that is held within the manner of sickness. This is not an easy thing to do. Illness, as fiction editor Ronna Wineberg observes, "extends its tentacles past any single episode of disease. There is the crisis, and for those fortunate enough to withstand it, the aftermath." The Spring 2006 issue promises to explore these two, crisis and aftermath. Among its pages, through fiction and poetry, both are found. Notable fiction entries are Judy Rowley's "The Color of Sound," and Joan Melarba-Foran's "The Little Things." Rowley writes of an implant that can bring sound to her deaf ears. Easy decision, right? Of literature, she explains, "I locked into the connection between the authenticity of a sound in the fullness of its color and the authentic voice, which exhibits the unique and colorful characteristics of its writer."
  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This second edition of Bloodroot, “dedicated to publishing diverse voices through the adventure of poetry, short fiction and creative nonfiction,” features the work of 27 poets, five fiction writers, and one essayist. Poems tend to fall into one of three categories, personal narratives, nature scenes, or personal encounters with nature, with a few exceptions (including a few more metaphysically oriented pieces). David Strait’s “Christmas Day” is characteristic of the personal narrative. The poem begins:
  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I admire Bellevue Literary Review for its consistency and the polish, confidence, and competence of its contents. Produced at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, with a focus on “illness, health, and healing,” it is easy to conceive of a journal that might compromise on or sacrifice literary quality in its quest to adequately represent these themes, yet Bellevue pays as much attention to composition as to subject matter. Featuring fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and book reviews, the journal presents the work of accomplished writers with impressive credentials from the world of medicine, literature, the social sciences, education, and the MFA poetry scene.
  • Published Date November 2009
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
This literary journal presents eight stories a month to the reading public and then has viewers vote on their favorite. That story becomes the featured story of the month, to be included in a downloadable biannual collection produced in July and January. Two new stories are featured each week, encouraging frequent visitations to the website by interested readers. This is strictly a fiction website, and there is a range from microfiction up to 4000 words.
  • Issue Number Volume 7 Issue 1
  • Published Date Autumn 2003
What a find! This is as diverse a collection of writing as I have read in some time (with 42 entries on 60 pages – this is packed!). Anyone who has worked labor or second shift or a thankless-number-not-a-name job will find themselves within these pages. But don’t mistake the content (which is heavy on the poetry) as being all about work/ing. Oh, no -  there’s sensuality, as in Jillian Meyer’s “First Job” where she describes the post-shower relaxation that comes after work, the outdoor air blowing “gently into the warmer darkness behind my knees, / a drying breeze over a landscape not meant for fast travel / in the quiet of a night at home in my skin.” Natural imagery as metaphor roars in Cunningham’s “a hollow thunder” and walks us gently into the wood in Napolin’s “On Sunday.” 
  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Winter 2009
The poems at the center of Black Boot are often sweeping, elegiac narratives, told from the point of view of an apparently omniscient character or narrator who usually speaks in the first person or like they are writing sophisticated, honest diary entries. When you enter the bright lights of this journal, you will meet an amalgam of characters who, whether melancholy, happy or otherwise, are reflecting on something or someone integral to their past identities.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This literary journal welcomes all genres: “We hope to provide a safe space for writers who’ve gone unappreciated because the industry has led them to believe they don’t fit some arbitrary format.” This latest issue is no exception, providing short stories, art, nonfiction, interviews, lyrics, poetry, a letter from the editor, a memorial – a little bit of everything.
  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“The Weight of Bones” I read first because the short story jumped out at me, or rather the skull did, the skull being the main character Ellen finds in her “charred garage.” All I will say is that Ellen took me by surprise from the first moment we met. Then came the nonfiction and equally engaging “My Wild Ride” that taught me how to welcome an unwelcome surprise. To summarize, the mother of two little girls under the age of five receives news that her life is about to change on more than one level. The eight poems are quietly seductive. As I was experiencing their power, I allowed the words time to soak in, take up a life, a meaning of their own.
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  • Issue Number Volume 13 Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
After bracing myself for reviewing journals whose explorations of daily life tended to the abstract, it was high time to read prose and poetry from writers who didn't emulate Kafka when writing about work, bureaucracy, and class. Blue Collar Review's Spring edition serves it up straight – no-nonsense formatting, clear print, solid storytelling over pyrotechnics.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Picking up this issue of Beecher’s Magazine is like sneaking into a speakeasy and becoming part of a very cool, very exclusive club. The gray cover of the perfect-bound journal is distinguished by a gold squiggle and a round cut-out that only reveals the issue’s number. It seemed to me that the whole Beecher’s team was on the same gold-edged page; the fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art chosen by the editors is just as mature and inviting as the journal’s design.
A common approach mysteriously unites the short fiction in this spring/summer issue of Black Warrior Review. Each of the six stories here possesses a similar obliqueness, a diagonal narrative attack that lends the characters and events an alluring inscrutability.
"Terrific" is how contest judge Robert Wrigley classifies the 49th Parallel Award-winning poem by Simone Muench, but this assessment could certainly apply to this whole special double issue. Sophisticated and polished, the work here (poems, stories, essays, interviews, Forrest Gander's comments on work by Cole Swenson, and Lucia Perillo's writing about photos by Scott Chambers) is never casual, yet it remains consistently accessible and, in the best sense, readable.
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  • Issue Number Volume 24 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The latest issue of Bluestem, based out of Eastern Illinois University, offers a hefty selection of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and art working in a broad spectrum of styles and aesthetics. The journal isn’t filled exclusively with big-name solicitations, but the range of work it includes is refreshing and strong.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Within six months of placing a small ad in Poets & Writers, the editors of The Broome Review received more than 1,000 submissions to consider for this inaugural issue. They selected the work of 28 poets, including poems by such prolific and well known poets as Stephen Dunn, Timothy Liu, Lawrence Raab, and Philip Dacey; five fiction writers; and three essayists.
  • Issue Number Volume 14 Number 2
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Finely etched is how I would define the work in this issue of The Bitter Oleander. Take Carolyn Gelland’s poem, “Wild Cat,” for example:
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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Are you up for a side trip to Bat City? The landscape is compelling and the water’s fine. Compiled and produced by the University of Texas at Austin, the Bat City Review demands, as Editor Caleb Klaces states, “to be read closely.” Jam-packed with wonderfully wrought poetry and provocative prose, this issue is the perfect companion to take along on a weekend trip or for curling up by the fire on a chilly evening.
  • Issue Number Number 28
  • Published Date Spring 2007
This issue of the UK’s Banipal: Magazine of Modern Arab Literature features Lebanese poetry. The five prose selections are all novel excerpts – some contemporary, some from decades ago. Both poetry and prose are Arabic translations. This may be one reason why it took me so long to get through the journal. Another may be the very reason why I reviewed it: to relieve my ignorance to a culture’s literature.
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  • Issue Number Volume 32
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Blueline describes itself as a "literary magazine dedicated to the spirit of the Adirondacks." Like many regionally-themed publications based in scenic areas, it includes a big helping of traditionally conceived nature poetry, most of it in competently handled free verse. Poets submitting to Blueline obviously find nature to be a source of beauty, interest and anthropomorphic imagery. Kathleen E. Schneider, for example, writes of digging mica fragments from a steep hillside and holding them out "like precious shards of broken glory." Georganna Millman writes a tongue-in-cheek account of a day in the life of crows, who, in late morning "beat it to the trees / hanging over Elk Creek / henpecking an old owl / where she hides."
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  • Issue Number Issue 40
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Semiannual online
In response to the results of the VIDA Count (which counts the male to female ratio in publishing—I’ll let you guess which gender got the shorter stick), Brevity decided to put out a special issue called “Ceiling or Sky? Female Nonfictions After the VIDA Count,” which focuses on “the important contribution of female writers to the creative nonfiction movement.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date July 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Big River Poetry Review publishes lots of poems online—eight in January 2014 and nine in December 2013, for example—then gathers them all annually in this journal. This first volume covers the period between the review’s founding in late May 2012 through the end of the year. Based in Baton Rouge, LA and published in an unwieldy eight and a half by eleven format with a bright red cover, it includes 154 poems by almost as many authors. The magazine is open to a wide range of styles, subject matter, and skill levels, including poems that would benefit from being workshopped.
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  • Issue Number Number 116
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
MoMA advertises in Bomb. To be more specific, MoMA advertises on the entire back cover of Bomb. I noticed it immediately, and it wired my expectations for what I would find inside. MoMA doesn’t advertise in just any magazine.
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  • Issue Number Number 89
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
At its start, Brick was a collection of reviews, and at its heart still is. The editors say, “Brick’s mandate remains unchanged: to create a beautiful product filled with the most invigorating and challenging literary essays, interviews, memoirs, travelogues, belles lettres, and unusual musings we can get our hands on.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 28 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Once again, Richard Burgin and his team present a well-rounded collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that will appeal to the reader’s intellect and emotion alike. The impact begins with the journal’s very first piece: a new short story from Joyce Carol Oates. In “Anniversary,” Vivianne has retired from higher education and has decided to volunteer to teach writing in the State Prison Education Program. Vivianne has been paired with Cal Healy, a much younger and far less experienced teacher. Oates builds tension effectively and organically, taking a lot of time to explain all of the many rules one must follow to work in a prison. (Avoid blue clothing so you can’t be confused with an inmate, avoid delving too deeply into their personal lives . . . and keep an eye on that pencil sharpener.) The ending of the story alone is worth the read. Oates manipulates the reader’s understanding of the narrative, lending greater power and a more disturbing undertone to a simple ride home.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 7 & 8
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2003
I urge you to check out, before even finishing this review, the website of Bridge Magazine, though I know the wish is sort of hopeless: there’s almost no way to conceive of the sort of madness and playful fun the magazine contains, promotes, inculcates, various other verbs. It’s sort of like McSweeneys, I suppose, though somehow more fun, grounded in a real world (perhaps this is the only magazine I can think of that’s made strangely more whole, more itself, because of advertisements [almost all of which are by/for Chicago-area businesses]).
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Issue 62
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The awards issue – and the judges chose well! A poem by Elizabeth McLagan, “All Alien Spirits Rest the Spirit,” chosen by Paulann Petersen; an essay by Alexandra Marzano-Lesnevich, “In the Fade,” chosen by Kim Stafford; and a story by Irene Keliher, “SPN,” chosen by Kathleen Alcalá. Well-composed, confident work; subtle, yet focused and intense. McLagan’s poem is representative of much of the poetry in this issue, poems steeped in rich images of the natural world rendered in careful, round language (“There are rocks that have forgotten the body: / orphaned, smoothed by their journey, tossed up // at random and left to dry in the sun.”) The winning essay, too, sets the stage for the creative nonfiction that follows, other essays (is this intentional or coincidental?) which explore a childhood relationship with the beach/ocean (essays by Julie Jeanell Leung and Susan Buis). And the winning story is also typical of the work in this issue, family dramas that rise above the vast sea of such work, thanks to strong prose and a tendency toward understatement.
Defying the trade paperback design standard to most literary journals, The Briar Cliff Review is a magazine-size book with thick, glossy paper and an evocative array of crystal-clear full-color artwork scattered throughout. To peruse this journal is an enjoyable sensory experience, and I found myself savoring the pure pleasure induced by the design as much as I savored the contents, which are substantial: 28 poems, 6 stories, 3 nonfiction pieces grouped under the unique heading “Reflective”, 4 articles or exhibits dealing with the “Siouxland” surrounding Briar Cliff’s Sioux City origins, and 3 book reviews. The short stories here are highly literary, somewhat ponderously paced, and ultimately very winning in their shared reluctance to undercut the human mysteries they present.
  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2004
Probably one of the most unassumingly designed literary journals, The Baltimore Review stands up to the best of them with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and book reviews that all have that special glint of treasures presented with a knowing wink of editorial conviction. This issue features six short stories, all impressively artful and absorbing. Joe Schall’s “Opossum”, winner of TBR’s 2003 Short Fiction Competition, treads with not a single unsure step the bizarre territory of agoraphobia, etymology, toxicology, and marsupials, blending it all together with a thematic grace that left me moved by the feeling that I’d just read one of the year’s best stories.
  • Issue Number Volume 7 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2003
Sponsored by the Baltimore Writers’ Alliance, this journal features “the short stories and poetry of writers from the Baltimore area and beyond.” There are more writers representing “beyond” this issue, including Virgil Suarez of Florida who must certainly be among the top two or three most frequently published poets in literary journals in the country. His “Recitative of a Moment’s Fugue” is a fine example of why: “In Havana the old street vendors / sell their coconut death masks, / fiber-wigged, a kiss of crimson lips” – he is undoubtedly the best known writer to appear in this issue.
Beloit Poetry Journal is one of the journals that poetry junkies in the know call a must-read because of the consistent quality of the poetry they publish, the freshness of the voices, and the terrific reviews. There can be no “ho-hum” response to this journal. In this slim but mighty issue, not only did I thrill to the emotional zing and wit of every single poem, I delighted in editor Marion Stocking’s review roundup of recent books by poets on poetry. Her pithy, intelligent descriptions helped me sort my own shopping list (check Roethke’s On Poetry and Craft, check Kim Stafford’s The Muses Among Us…) The melancholy themes of many of the poems here revolve around social, political and financial injustices, like Nicole Cooley’s “Madame X—about the connection between the famous portrait and a murdered girl X in the Bronx and a baby X in an ICU. The language in many of these poems leans towards the lyrical, as these lines illustrate, from Corinne Lee’s “Fulgent” about a poet who reads futures in palms in a concentration camp to save his life:
Bathtub Gin is an irreverent little saddle-stitched journal that will appeal to those who love the literary world but could care less about the more academic aspects. This issue includes an interview with writer Mark Terrill, along with four of his poems, a series of photographs by Caryn Thurman, a couple of short prose pieces and an array of short poems, as well as some small illustrations by Harland Ristau. 
  • Issue Number Volume 4 Number 1
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Burnside Review’s CD-case size fits snugly in my purse, a place from where I’ve pulled and read it the last couple weeks, despite the fact the issue is all about LA, and I’m a snobby Portlander. Sid Miller, Burnside Review’s editor, acknowledges the Portlander’s aversion to LA, then shows it’s unfounded – at least literary-wise – by including excellent LA writers and writing.
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Issue 4
  • Published Date July/August 2008
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
The theme for this issue of The Bloomsbury Review is “Writing the Land,” and its book reviews primarily dwell on nature or regional writers across the United States. The lead review describes two Wallace Stegner biographies – Wallace Stegner and the American West and Wallace Stegner’s Salt Lake City as well as The Collected Letters of William Stegner. Reviewer Tom Wylie compares Stegner’s work to that of Twain, Faulkner, and Steinbeck, and calls him “one of our great American writers.” Wylie blends Stegner’s biography with the review of these new books, resulting in a survey of Stegner both as a man and as a writer.
  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The “pop flotsam” and “cultural jetsam” captured between the covers of Barrelhouse offers the best of both worlds. The material is literary and meaningful while simultaneously maintaining broad appeal. The “Barrelhouse Editorial Squadron” consists of self-proclaimed “misfits,” and they have found a number of beautiful red-haired stepchildren for this issue.
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring/Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Bellingham Review celebrates its thirtieth anniversary in this issue with three essays from the journal’s editors, past and present. While interesting for their historical narrative, the pieces are also a testament to the inspired, beautiful madness one must possess to start a literary periodical. At the end of the volume is an index of the pieces from Bellingham’s run (so far).
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“We’re trying to take you somewhere.” Isn’t that every writer’s goal? To take the reader from their comfy couch or their little corner and place them into a scene to which they can relate. Or maybe it’s to put them in a situation they’ve never been in, but affects them in some way.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 4
  • Published Date October 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of Blue Lyra Review has a special theme: “Stories We’d Rather Not Tell.” This, of course, is a little contradictory considering if the authors didn’t want to tell the stories, they wouldn’t submit. But it’s intriguing nonetheless, and I dove right in. I was instantly drawn in to the nonfiction section, eager to hear those stories first, and I wasn’t disappointed.
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  • Published Date October 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
Although the November issue went live literally minutes after I finished reading this issue, I urge you to excuse the fact that this review is for the October issue. The October issue marks the magazine’s one year anniversary, and I figured it needed a celebration. And there’s a lot to celebrate here.
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  • Published Date December 2011
  • Publication Cycle Weekly online
Run by the MFA program at Butler University, Booth publishes something every week on their website and has a print publication each spring. I have never seen the print edition, but found the online material quite intriguing. I was especially impressed by their selections of poetry.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 5
  • Published Date November 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Aaron Milstead’s short story “The Pickled Man” was such an easy and captivating read that I suggested to my twelve-year-old son that he read it as well. As I predicted, he devoured the story of Wilber Will’s World of Wonders that features a mysterious oddity floating around in a pickle jar. That night, at around two a.m., I awoke to a shadowy figure standing at the foot of my bed. I knew immediately that figure was my son and that he’d just had a nightmare featuring, not surprisingly, the pickled man. After putting him back to bed, I thought about the power of Milstead’s story. It had left an unsettling impression on my son—one that lies just below the cerebral surface—long after he’d finished reading it. It is the titillating payoff that you hope for when you read something particularly spooky. This is exactly what Black Lantern Publishing’s fifth issue offers its readers with its collection of short stories, poetry, flash fiction, and artwork, all within a macabre theme. Despite my recommendation to my son, this is not a collection intended for children. BLP offers an assortment of haunting contemplations that deal with the subject of death and ushers readers to a darker side of literature.
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  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue is dedicated – in a trend that is becoming increasingly (happily) noticeable in literary magazines of all kinds – to translation, and reflects the editors’ efforts to “sharpen Bombay Gin’s focus.” The Translation Portfolio includes versions from the Navajo of Frank Mitchell’s “17 Horse Songs” by Jerome Rothenberg and an accompanying essay; an interview with Zhang Er, followed by poems of hers translated from the Chinese; an interview with Chilean poet Cecilia Vicuña, followed by her work; as well as poems, ancient and contemporary, translated from Japanese, Finnish, and French.
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  • Issue Number Volume 8 Issue 2
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published by Minnesota State University at Mankato, Blue Earth Review is a stellar compilation of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. This happy threesome is fresh and enjoyable. There’s no niche. No artwork other than the cover. No crazy long commentaries by editors. Therefore, why go on and on about this journal’s vision? No reason as far as I can see. Let’s jump right in.
  • Subtitle The Whiskey Edition
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  • Issue Number Volume 7 Number 1
  • Published Date 2011
Burnside Review is a diminutive delight. Readers at the outset learn, from editor and founder Sid Miller, that whiskey is an "instigator.” Also both a "prelude" and an "epilogue."
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  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Spring/Summer Issue of Black Warrior Review, featuring Graham Foust, Aaron Kunin, Bhanu Kapil, Sarah Gridley, Joshua Cohen, Megan Volpert, and many other fine writers, is difficult not to pick up and thumb through. The ritualistic cover art gets the issue going: two guys, two girls, all with skeleton heads, watching a horse as it is either pulled into the sky or brought down from it. More in this series by Joseph McVetty can be found later in the issue, in the Nudity Feature.
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  • Issue Number Volume 31 Issue 3
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Occupying the centerfold of this issue of The Bloomsbury Review is a wise, pithy conversation between two award-winning women writers of the West: Page Lambert and Laura Pritchett. Both have written for decades in multiple genres, but I had never heard of either. Their conversation is inspirational—grounded, specific, filled with references to writers, books, and the relationship between place and heart. “We are bound by a real and raw love of books and land,” Pritchett says near the end. For her, books and the natural world are so linked she “can barely see the difference,” possibly because she read books by the river when she was a child. Lambert says that Place (with a capital P) is as central to stories as a main character, listing Isak Dinesen, Jack London, and other writers as having formed her sense not only of place but also of writing that transfigures Place as Place transfigures the characters within it. The conversation—whose provenance is nowhere listed (where did it take place? When? Who transcribed it, or was it originally written rather than spoken?)—introduces me to women whose work I see I must learn more of. But by “work” I mean not only their fiction and nonfiction but also the unconventional ranching work they do daily, devoted to livestock, home, and place—the American West. Because this is where I live, this issue—this conversation—calls to me in particularly strong ways.
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  • Issue Number Issue 47
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Banipal’s 47th issue features fiction from Kuwait. I’ve never read anything by a Kuwaiti writer, and all I know about Kuwait I know from images of the 1990 Iraqi invasion: torched oil wells lining the blue sky and then what seemed to turn almost immediately into a decades-long American affair. Peacetime Kuwait is indistinguishable, in my mind’s eye, from any other small Gulf country, with an oil reserve, women draped in black, workers from India and the Philippines. What makes Kuwaiti fiction Kuwaiti?
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  • Issue Number Volume 24
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
As always, The Briar Cliff Review makes a strong impression from the second it is placed in your hands. The journal’s large pages offer poetry, fiction, and nonfiction room to breathe and allow pieces of graphic art to be reproduced in flattering detail. In her introductory note, Editor Tricia Currans-Sheehan affirms her obvious desire to embrace the “print-ness” of the review. The magazine, she says, “is for holding and looking and for leafing through—with a treat for the eye and mind on each page.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 42
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Reading the Berkeley Poetry Review gave me one of those “grass is always greener” moments. It made me jealous that my town doesn’t have a journal like this, dedicated to highlighting local talent and the local scene.
  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If pop culture irritates and disgusts you, then this magazine is for you. If you’re a pop culture junkie and your admiration for Patrick Swayze and Mr. T is rivaled only by admiration for your father, then this magazine is for you. Equipped to satisfy the panoply of individual tastes, Barrelhouse brilliantly succeeds at “bridging the gap between serious art and pop culture.” With a wide range of fare – essays, interviews, poetry, fiction, art – Barrelhouse has it all. I mean, come on, who else is publishing poetry about Ed Asner? Exactly. Fiction in this issue is strong across the board, and to be fair, each piece deserves its own review. Melissa Yancey’s “Recommended if You Dig” is a perfect example of the Barrelhouse blend, where the young indie protagonist may finally have fallen in love but becomes obsessed with the fact that the woman he’s seeing does not share his love for Neutral Milk Hotel, and this seemingly irreconcilable difference threatens to be the deal-breaker. Another excellent piece is Wendy Wimmer’s “Billets Doux,” an art/fiction piece (Barrelhouse art director Kylos Brannon does a top-notch job laying this piece out) comprised of emails tapped on a Blackberry, offering verbal snapshots cumulating in a portrait of loneliness and desire.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date July 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
Only just under a year of publication, Bodega seems to be in its element. This issue is cohesive; it works together, and not because of a theme or genre. Bodega pieces capture vivid imagery, placing words and phrases next to each other in surprising and delightful ways. Such as “we adopted the ferns / as our pets and spent long hours brushing their hair” (Sarah Burgoyne’s “Autobiography”), and, “When the floral bouquets are passed from a beautiful woman / and the ribbon is cut, one aquarium opens and another is drained.” (Jake Levine’s “Kim Jong Un Looking at Things”). Read both of these poems; they are seriously good.
  • Issue Number Volume 21
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I always look forward to this large format annual with its glossy pages, beautiful artwork and photography, and well-composed and thoughtful works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. This issue also features a section titled “Siouxland,” which includes an interview with poet David Allan Evans, and reviews of books by Ted Kooser and Andrew Porter.
  • Issue Number Volume 9 Issue 2
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This journal defines itself as “a unique collection of issues, events, & images from the Great River Road,” and it publishes works of history, the sciences, business, photography, and creative writing. Works are not classified in the Table of Contents, so it can be a little difficult to distinguish between genres in some cases. Not in the case, however, of Phil Harvey’s short story, “Tomato Only,” which is typical of much of the poetry and prose in the issue, accessible, readable, and what, for lack of a better term, I’ll categorize as natural. Harvey’s story begins: “Albert had asked for tomato on his tuna salad sandwich, no mayonnaise, please. He had been very specific, very precise, taking extra care because the man behind the deli counter at the American Grill looked oriental and probably didn’t speak English very well.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Oh, how lovely! Produced and inspired by the power of wind (“The Bateau Press Office is run on the renewable energies of hydro and wind power”). Handsomely printed on a letterpress (a letterpress!). Small, square, a lithe 79 pages (poems, prose poems, reproductions of black and white woodcuts and drawings, and a two-page graphic story) that fit neatly in one hand. Unassuming, understated, unpretentious. And utterly gorgeous from cover to cover. I loved holding Bateau between my palms. I loved the work, poems that, for the most part, contain small lyrical mysteries and large telling silences. I loved discovering new writers with impressive credentials and stellar work, but who are not the same big name stars I encounter again and again. I loved the journal’s simplicity and elegance and quiet, self-assured lyricism.
  • Issue Number Volume 60 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2009/10
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Everything in this issue was (happily, happily) unexpected. Karl Elder’s “Snowman” in the shape of a snowman that could have then been silly, but was not: “this is snowballing toward a title below – / both visible and invisible like like without / the ‘k,’ like the buzz word for a buzzard / sitting on a blind man in a blizzard.” Mary Molinary’s series “poems composed for the left hand,” which combined verse in lines, prose poems, verse in columns, and childish hand-written scrawl (“to keep dementia away”). “Leaning in from the Sea” by Kerry James Evans, short bursts separated by bullets and punctuated by bold, violent outbursts (“Fucked the green out of her eyes,” and “All that blood. All those feathers.”). Philip Pardi’s “My Father’s Christening,” a poem in nine numbered segments that begins with the utterly seductive single line “After the story, its telling, and only then is it a story.” Don Shofield’s “Harmony, USA,” a poem in a dozen numbered segments that ends:
  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The front cover of the 2009 issue of Barn Owl Review depicts a destroyed playground, the aftermath, perhaps, of a tornado: a blue twisting slide on its side, trees smashed into the remnants of a swing set, what might have been a plastic fort. On the magazine’s back cover is a picture of a little plastic lion cub sitting on a toilet, tail lifted. These photos are nothing too out of the ordinary yet convey states of mind caught between damage and play, humor and humanity’s excreta, metaphoric and otherwise.
I’ve recently begun teaching in the inner-city, so I thought I might find reading material for my freshman from the Bronx Biannual: The Journal of Urbane Urban Literature. Although I soon discovered that the explicit content guaranteed that these weren’t stories I’d casually give fourteen-year-old students, this issue contains great reading for the more mature reader.
  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If you’re looking for writing that skirts, tunnels under, or transcends the ordinary, open any issue of The Bitter Oleander. Beyond any other criterion, this journal prefers provocative work – work that engenders a change in the mind of the reader, whether that change involves heightened sociopolitical awareness, or simply a gorgeous revolution of one’s perception of words and sound. Indeed, the best indicator of The Bitter Oleander’s character may be the uncompromising language found on nearly every page. Consider a sampling of lines from this issue’s poetry selections: “Your face breaks open to light” (Jacob Russell, “The Sea Bandits”); “the incarnate heart in your mouth pricks you” (Estrella del Valle, “My Room and Justine”); “Every morning the sun rises behind the guardhouses / wearing filthy hospital pajamas” (Titos Patrikios, “Habits of the Detainees,” in translation from the Greek). The short fiction offers similar raw intensity in lines like these from “Tale of a Long Winter” byAllen Kesten: “She remembered standing on her head after she had cut away the skin from her thighs, rivulets of blood running down her body and drying like prison bars on her torso.”
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2005
There seems to be a resurgence of interest for comics in the literary world from acclaimed McSweeney’s comic issue and Chris Ware’s award winning Jimmy Corrigan to the recent works by Michael Chabon. Backwards City Review adds their voice with five comics here, including a delightful except from Kenneth Koch’s forthcoming book of comics. There is also a beautifully drawn and haunting anti-war comic by Nate Powell (a very underrated comic artist). Backwards City Review in general takes a humorous approach to their magazine (as evidenced by titles such as “Hockey Haiku” and “Constructive Criticism of Bathroom Wall Scribbling”).
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  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Bellevue Literary Review starts with eyewitness descriptions on the effects of last October’s Hurricane Sandy on New York’s Bellevue Hospital. The piece, titled “The Night of the Hurricane,” archives recollections from resident physicians of NYU’s Department of Medicine and is a tribute to the brave staff members who had evacuated Bellevue Hospital, hauling patients and equipment down stairs and through halls one by one to safety in the midst of enormous devastation rendering the building silent for the first time in more than 275 years. In her foreword, Editor-in-Chief Danielle Ofri writes, “Dollars, hours, gallons, and acreage can seem almost flimsy when trying to understand the effects on a human level—the patient who was carried down seventeen flights of stairs, the administrator who never left the hospital for a week, the employee whose home was destroyed . . .” We are relieved to hear that though “there still remain many displaced elements,” there is hope that “the hospital community will be fully restored soon.”
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  • Issue Number Number 92
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Have financial constraints or a lack of vacation days turned you into a regionalist against your will? Don’t fret, the new issue of Brick is here to take you on a whirlwind tour, sans pat downs, turbulence, and the high cost of airfare. Aptly labeled “an anthology of enthusiasms” by former editor Michael Ondaatje, Brick is filled with the work of writers and thinkers whose preoccupations are as categorically eclectic as they are geographically diverse. From the ice fields of the North Pole to a paradise in the mind, from Tokyo to Arizona’s San Rafael Valley, the latest issue of Brick gathers the essays, interviews, letters, travelogues, poetry, fiction, reviews and musings of writers eager to give you a guided tour of their personal enthusiasms. And while the magazine’s content is eclectic and truly international in scope, it’s never willfully obscure. Rather, Brick’s eclecticism feels like an extension of its editors’ trust in the ability of good writers to determine what is substantial for themselves and make that substance meaningful and entertaining to others.
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  • Issue Number Number 126
  • Published Date Winter 2013-2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
A gold square dominates the cover of Bomb’s 126th issue; it sits in the middle of a naked male figure’s chest, which appears to be a subject of a woman’s painting; her hand is partially hidden behind the square, the explicit center of intrigue in Peter Rostovsky’s Photoshop painting Autopsy (2012). Painting appears to be the ironic instrument of autopsy here, a way of dissecting. Conversely, the square underlines an intrusion, and omits something in the drama between man and woman, or hides it. The square seems out of place in the composition, as though it comes out of nowhere, ”bombed,” if you will. Thus, the image implodes with questions, conundrums.
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  • Issue Number Volume 64 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2013/2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of Beloit Poetry Journal is chock-full of powerful poems with interesting word presentations. Eleven authors contributed fourteen individual pieces to a short, impactful magazine. Editor Lee Sharkey rounds out the volume with an interesting article in the Books in Review section titled “Poems in Conversation.” Of the many ways to write and present poetry, I agree with Sharkey that some of the best are mobile selections “spanning time and cultures in a spirit of reciprocity.” Snapshots of instances are often most celebrated as successful pieces of work in the literary world, but our current society is in constant motion and its best poetry should be appreciated for moving in that direction.
  • Issue Number Issue 14
  • Published Date Spring 2005
Published in Chicago, Bridge is a slick culture-oriented magazine that cranks the volume to eleven. The content is comprehensive – interviews with filmmakers and artists get as much space here as fiction and poetry – but sadly seems a bit loose: too many typos really do frustrate a reader’s experience, and some of the pieces seem to swing and miss.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2005
It’s fair to say that Barrelhouse is the most promising recent journal so proudly founded in drunkenness; in the introduction to their debut issue, the editors quickly establish its origin, writing, “Fine, we’ll admit it, we were drunk,” thus establishing a youngish masculinity that reverberates throughout.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2005
The debut of Ballyhoo Stories, a biannual print magazine aiming “to reach the broadest audience possible,” is solid. It loses points for presentation – a less than elegant black-and-white cover, oddly shifting black-on-white with white-on-black text pages, and distracting borders and page number fonts – but the content is stronger. The eight stories loosely collected under this issue’s theme of “Portraits and Snapshots” are character-driven works that are at best quietly ambitious and at worst tend toward the sentimental, an understandable side-effect of fiction grown from personal photographs (and from a journal concerned with establishing a large readership). Several works stand out, including Michael Hartford’s “Call Me Pearl” and Amy Brill’s “The Pursuit of Joe Kahn.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle 9-Month
This issue of Burnside Review brings with it some big changes. While it is still unmistakably an issue of Burnside Review, a new poetry editor, John Pursley III, and a new fiction editor, Adam O’Connor Rodriquez, have brought a new energy to the journal and are taking the journal to the next level.
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  • Issue Number Volume 7 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle online
This Spring 2012 issue of Blood Orange Review is all about collections: collections of stories, of locks and keys, of facts, and even of elephants. What some of these stories also have are stellar first lines. Brently Johnson’s nonfiction piece “The Raisin Invasion” starts out with, “When my sister got kicked out of the house for good, my mother filled her bedroom with raisins.” With a line like that, I couldn’t help but click the “more” button to read on—and I’m glad I did. It is compelling and honest throughout. Stephanie Friedman’s “I Want the Copy that Dreams” starts off with, “Jean felt nettled for no reason she could name, a pricking just beneath her skin.” With just a few short stories, this magazine can be read over a lunch break or after work to unwind—it’s just the right size.
[www.bloodorangereview.com]
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  • Issue Number Number 34
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The “borderlands” concept has never been more accurate. Along with a more general selection of more than 20 poets, this issue features a special section of “translingual poets,” defined as writers who “create in a language other than the one they were born into.” Editor Liliana Valenzuela praises the fine work of the translators whose work appears here alongside the originals and notes that many are gifted poets themselves. This issue also includes wonderful artwork by Liliana Wilson, terrific images with surreal elements, but wholly “real” human aspects that render the work both familiar and wondrous in the magical (but not silly or childish) sense of the word.
  • Issue Number Issue 80
  • Published Date Winter 2007
When a literary journal opens by recognizing the greatness of Dostoevsky and The Brothers Karamazov, it aims not just to entertain but to endure. Issue 80 of Toronto-based Brick embraces the world of words with arms more expansive than most literary journals. The giants of Russian literature are further celebrated in two memoir/biographies: the acrimony of Chekov's wife and his beloved sister is recalled by Gregory Altschuller, the deceased (1983) son of Chekov's doctor; Viktor Nekrasov journeys through post-Bulgakov Kiev to the house of Bulgakov's youth and place of his characters.
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  • Issue Number Number 78
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Canadian journal Brick is a slap in the face (with a brick) to mediocrity. Brick 78 is chock full of nuts: Robin Blaser, Robert Hass, Sylvia Plath, Ko Un, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Barry Gifford, and certainly more. This journal is not long-winded, and still Brick answers to some of the most interesting essays, memoirs, tributes and speeches, and of course, good poetry. The essays of Brick are always the most fulfilling. The piece “Milosz: The Conscience of Solidarity” by Peter Dale Scott is fascinating. A quote at the beginning of the essay by Adam Michnik should be of interest to poets and revolutionaries alike: “I remember that when I once was arrested the police found a box of treatises by Milosz in my apartment. And during the interrogation the officer was saying, ‘Mr. Michnik, do you believe that with the help of this little poetry you are going to win against Communism?’ And we won.”
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle annual
Stylish and quirky, BWR continually reimagines what it means to be a university-affiliated journal. Amid the chapbook and gorgeous art portfolio, Steve Davenport’s “Murder on Gasoline Lake” unfolds the toxic layers of his childhood spent in a refinery town and illustrates the ways home, even sludge and stink, gets graphed to us “whether we like it or not.” Angie Carter may have entered the world just as Elvis exited, but her nostalgic essay proves music and video as seductive as warm flesh to the obsessive psyche. While paragraphs labeled “First sight,” “First jealousy,” “Our song” suggest stalkerish fandom, Angie’s awareness of the absurd and coverage of other Elvis aficionados (freaks?) sweetens the insanity.
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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In order to commemorate its 40th anniversary, Black Warrior Review decided to focus on “time travel.” The pieces selected for this issue meet the aims of time travel in such interesting and intriguing ways, this is one journal you will want to make sure to read front to back.
  • Issue Number Issue 16
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
A serene and bright swathe of red and yellow sunset greets you before you even read a word of Blue Print Review, a journal that incorporates an image, be it a painting, photograph or sketch, with something like a poem, short story or prose piece – although it never explicitly labels any of them as anything but “words.” Even the all-encompassing theme of being “Lost, Found and Stolen” is open to interpretation, much like a painting or photograph.
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 1
  • Published Date March 2008
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
Blood Orange Review is a poetry, fiction, essay and art journal with a dark skin and a smooth philosophical center. Enter the orange confines of their most current issue and be exposed to crimson narratives imparting stories of characters and places told with their fascinating and sometimes tragic details (whether the narrative centers on class, a jellyfish or the struggles inherent in the immigrant experience).
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  • Issue Number Issue 25
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Blue Mesa Review, a product of the creative writing program of the University of New Mexico, almost did not see publication this year. Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Rose Richardson reports that her fellow editors had to fight to keep their magazine alive during their school’s funding crisis: “They organized fund raisers, attended countless meetings, and they brainstormed in order to bring you this very issue you’re holding. Each editor gave above and beyond to ensure this issue had a chance to make it.” The folks at Blue Mesa have a lot to be proud of in this issue. The result of their hard work and dedication is a handsome journal with great content.
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  • Issue Number Volume 63 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Whenever I review a poetry journal, I look for one or two poems that stitch all the poems to each other and, ultimately, to the fabric of my conscience. I trust the editors, whenever possible, to produce a publication that ties itself together with a common theme, a certain style, or a period in literary history, to name a few of the devices at an editorial team’s disposal. If I leave myself open to all the ways that such a “stitching” can happen, I am almost always pleased—as I am with the Fall 2012 Beloit Poetry Journal, which is a gem of a journal. The poem “Above the Lake,” by Stephen O’Connor, manages to pull the journal together.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This journal reads like a road trip. Its rich landscape left me with a lingering sense of journey as I found characters and imagery replaying in my mind like saturated photographs.
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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The editor’s note of this issue of Blue Collar Review reads, “We must not allow ourselves to become demoralized or cynical because to do so would be suicide. As poets, we must reclaim our culture and its narrative of community, solidarity and social conscience, recognizing the power of culture in defining our identity and vision.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Issue 64
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
You will love the most recent Bellingham Review on a microscopic level; you will love it on a macroscopic level. You will find considerable literary achievement down to the expert punctuation. The writers in this journal have a mastery of plot and a quiet rebellion of framing stories in segments. When reading this journal—as long as you aren’t in a subway—you will discern almost aurally a powerful philosophical clarity.
  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date Spring 2008
Bejeezus is subtitled “Reclaiming Southern Culture,” but its coverage of culture extends far beyond its Kentucky roots. Encompassing the broad categories “See, Watch, Read, Eat, Listen, Make, Visit, & More…” the magazine provides short columns on each, keeping the publication varied and concise.
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  • Issue Number Number 5
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
You know that cousin you have who is really weird but whom you would defend to the death if anyone badmouthed him? He may be a little different, but you mean that in the best sense. He’s eclectic and creative and bound to do something amazing with his nontraditional life. That’s kind of how I feel about Barn Owl Review (BOR). There were times I was reading and shaking my head in wonder at the same time. BOR is definitely not bor-ing.
The Bellevue Literary Review explores the connective tissue between the practice of medicine and literature in a way that is sensitive, surprising, and compassionate. I routinely read and love the work of this journal, in part because the subject matter is so intensely personal, the vulnerabilities of illness and injury, the uncertainties of working with the ill and injured. This issue is sprinkled with the work of well-known authors like Alicia Ostriker and Hal Sorowitz and focuses on the impact of relationships with others in a medical setting.
  • Issue Number Volume 7 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue’s charming cover photo, taken during WWI in Vichy, France, shows a nurse from Bellevue’s medical staff helping a dog apply a stethoscope to the temple of a man in uniform—eavesdropping on the man’s thoughts, perhaps? This image says much about the journal’s literary aesthetic; the stories, poems, and essays inside are about death and loss (of health, loved ones, ways of being in the world—the many things there are to lose as we encounter the human body’s various limits), but these are not depressing tales melodramatically told. Instead, they are creative and sometimes humorous engagements with realities we usually prefer to avoid.
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  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
What a find Big Fiction is! The magazine publishes only three to five “shorts” or novellas of 7,000 words or more, bound in a beautiful hand-designed letterpress volume of just the right size: perfect for a weekend away, an afternoon of rich leisure, an evening curled up by the fire. This issue is a delight to hold, to view, to read carefully. The editors’ intention of visual and tactile beauty aligned with literary delectability is fully realized. The green, tastefully mismatched typography of the title takes up a small top left corner of the white cover, which is filled with a red etched fiddlehead fern. “No. 2” takes up minimal space in the bottom right corner, and in the title corner the image of a young fiddler playing unobstrusively.
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  • Issue Number Volume 19 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Theophrastus wrote that the root of Oleander when mixed with wine makes the temper gentle and more cheerful. While Theophrastus never got the chance to read The Bitter Oleander, he surely would have had similar sentiments about what reading it could do for a person. The Bitter Oleander strives to provide readers with deep, image-driven work that will “open eyes to a world our habits and blindness ignore everyday.” This issue is a testament to that goal.
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  • Issue Number Number 40
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the Birmingham Poetry Review presents readers with a special feature: six poems and an interview with Pulitzer Prize winning, former Virginia Poet Laureate, Claudia Emerson. The six poems demonstrate her range and proficiency as an acclaimed American poet; from her historical poem “Virginia Christian,” a narrative of the “first female electrocuted in the state of Virginia in 1912,” to the “Lightning” sonnet that brings us to the electric moment when the poem’s persona “hears the strike that splits the pecan tree,” readers are treated to language that at once is immediate and powerful.
  • Issue Number Volume 59 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
What I liked best about this issue of BPJ is the dissonance – the clash of tones, styles, voices, and intentions. “During the processing of new acquisitions / evidence of cogitation must be monitored” writes Paul Lisson in a tightly composed prose poem, “Cartesian Melody,” excerpted from “the Perfect aRchive.” “A little celebration: / it is six a.m. and I am not sick.” writes Muriel Nelson in “For the Night People.” “My day as a tragedy / brand manager: the red- / on-void block letter logo / for Backwater Black Widow” begins “If It Bleeds, It Leads,” by Steven D. Schroeder. In some ways, it almost seems as if the poems in this issue belong in 17 different journals (that’s the number of poets who appear here), but together they work to create a marvelous compendium of mismatched styles and tones that somehow coalesce into a unified whole. These poems are some of the most original I’ve read lately. I never had the impression I was reading a poem I’d seen a version of dozens of times before. I was always a little surprised, taken aback, stunned into paying better attention. What more can we hope for from poetry?
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If ever you’ve gazed upon artworks born of the Surrealist movement with awe, you’ll readily absorb the concept that not to understand is, in itself, a way of understanding. Just as Surrealists aimed to circle like sharks the locus of aleatory explosion, the subconscious surfacing, spilling forth through the murky waters of convention, so, too, do the writers that comprise the Summer 2005 issue of Burnside Review. In theory, Surrealist art, like artwork of any era, concerns itself foremost with itself, then its audience. Artists aimed to tear at the piñata of despair to reveal the ripe and virile confetti within. This is where some of the work in this issue breaks down, and where some of it really takes off.
  • Issue Number Issue 76
  • Published Date Winter 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brick, a Canadian journal of non-fiction and poetry, is a magazine in a class of its own. The contributors in the winter issue include prominent writers like Donna Tart, Oliver Sacks, David Sedaris, Geoff Dyer, and Fanny Howe. The issue begins with a quote from John Berger, the perfect writer to introduce this pioneering journal that relishes in investigating and pressing against the boundaries of literature. The nonfiction pieces are incredibly eclectic in style and subject, with essays on boxing, Dublin, highways, the novel True Grit, and Thom Gunn, in addition to a transcript of a speech made at the 2005 Griffin Poetry Awards ceremony—and interesting and often humorous meditation on the state of poetry—and letters from Norman Levine and William Faulkner. The previously unpublished letter from Faulkner to an aspiring writer is a standout; he prescribes Dostoevsky, Mann, and Hardy to the struggling artist and offers gems like “no writing that was worth doing was ever done in one day or one year, sometimes, oftentimes, not in one decade.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 62 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Notwithstanding Lee Sharkey’s essay/review on the poets Kazim Ali and Brian Teare, this entire volume of BPJ features just one poet, Michael Broek—more precisely, his series of thirty poems titled The Logic of Yoo. Reading the collection is a transforming experience. The series tackles the problem of violence in modern history. The problem is approached without preaching or thundering. A protagonist—a doctoral student—researches the topic, not because he is passionate about it or wants to rid the world of violence, but because he is paid for his work. Masterful irony reverberates in the laconism of the student’s research notes, in his quoting factual documents, and in evoking authentic objects, places, and persons.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Issue 63
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Brenda Miller, author of five Pushcart-Prize-winning works and co-author of a best-selling creative nonfiction text, is the editor-in-chief of Bellingham Review. The names of Rita Dove, Tess Gallagher, Tobias Wolff, and other better-than-well-known poets and writers light up the editorial board. And with such a masthead, and a mission statement that includes a cry of “hunger for […] writing that nudges the limits of form, or executes traditional forms exquisitely,” how could we not expect excellence from this fine journal out of Western Washington University? This hefty issue contains nearly 250 pages of striking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and photography. And from the contest winners that open the issue to the interviews that conclude it, not a single entry misfires.
  • Issue Number Number Five
  • Published Date Spring 2004
A wild little journal of "innovative writing and art: collaborations, interviews, collage, poetry, poetics, long poems, reviews, graphs, charts, non-fiction, cross genre…" not to mention the marvelous pasted-on-the-page-as-separate-slips-of-paper reproductions of photos and artwork. Does somebody do this by hand? Now, that's innovative! Innovative is one of those tricky words that confuses me, even though I confess I often use it to describe work that is risky or unusual or odd or curious and there's all of that and more in Birddog. There are excerpts from Mark Tardi's divided-columns poem "Chopin's Feet," where every other page is divided graphically with a straight vertical line and the verses are like Chopin's complicated music moving from dense rhythms to lighter ones and back again. There's Heidi Peppermint's poem, "The Gulf Streams," whose diction wavers between the utterly familiar and ordinary ("Boy, those days we've talked about are here! / pamper yourself with daily maid service"), to a playfulness that veers toward the arcane ("Boy, those sways wave tangent about arrant! / Boy, those swerves as stranger about arsy-varsy!"). There are excerpts from Bob Harrison's poem "Counter Daemons—4D," incorporating concepts from computer programming, as well as from the "counting coups" of the Plains Indians. There are Brigitte Byrd's prose poems whose fate, we hope, will not be the same as this title: "Comparative Obscurity": "If there is estrangement what is the difference between speaking to the dead and speaking to the living." If you're open to Birddog's innovation, you'll know the answer to that question.
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  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Bombay Gin, the product of The Naropa Press and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, continues its legacy of eclecticism and experimental genre-bending in the Fall 2011 publication. Before a word of text is displayed, there is a black and white photo of a woman, handsome in a neck tie delightfully draping dreadlocks. Friends and former colleagues at Naropa and the world of poetry lost Akilah Oliver in 2011. Eleni Sikelianos reflects on the memory of her friend, “She never settled on an identity handed to her, be it her name, her gender, her genre, her theories, her performances, her race—she made herself, from scratch.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
After thumbing through, then devouring, the 2011 Fall/Winter issue of Black Warrior Review, I’m convinced that this publication is one I need to keep my eye on. Reading work from nearly thirty different writers and poets has simply impressed me with not only the quantity but also the quality, the originality, and the freshness of the prose and poetry in this magazine.
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  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Strong first lines. That’s the highly enviable trait shared by several of the pieces in Bacopa, the Writers Alliance of Gainesville-produced journal named after a family of aquatic plants with medicinal strength.
  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date 2004
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Many of the works in Buffalo Carp, “a hybrid, an amalgam” of two species native to the Quad City Mississippi River area, also celebrate the natural world. Dennis Saleh’s terse yet lyrical poem, “The Delta Songs of the Harper,” evokes Ra, the Sun God from Egyptian mythology.
  • Issue Number Volume 18
  • Published Date Spring 2005
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In Keith R. Denny’s short, remarkable dream-sequence of a story, “Ulrika,” the reader is swiftly trammeled up in the twisty mind of a would-be fiction writer for whom “the possibility of narrative is machine-gunned down in the street like a mad dog.” Lucky for us, the narrator’s self-effacing assertion does not hold true for “Ulrika” nor any of the other stories in the wonderfully narrative-packed Beloit Fiction Journal. The issue starts off strong with David Crouse’s “The Observable Universe” in which an estranged brother and sister who share a tragic childhood reunite amidst the surreal hubbub of a science-fiction convention.
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Don’t be deceived by the unassuming cover. Or should I say: be deceived, be very deceived, on account of the delicious merit of surprise. Such is the case with every issue of Barrow Street, and I have to say, I like it that way. Inside the summer issue are 72 poems, 6 poems-in-progress, and 3 reviews. Not bad for 127 pages, even better for $8 an issue. Barrow Street is perfect bound, the heft of a paperback novel, copious, a literary variety show. It seems more discerning than other journals, but by no means to a fault. While Barrow Street is known for publishing established writers bearing lists of publications, most of its contributors are past or present professors, making the journal no more or less academic for it. A cursory curiosity, though worth noting.
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  • Issue Number Volume 17 Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It would be a greater justice to write an eight-word review of this volume of Bitter Oleander. Stating simply: “Read the volume! It’s worth your time!” would spare having to select a few pieces from a collection in which each and every piece offers something insightful, interesting, or beautiful. The volume contains sixty-nine poems (free verse or prose), four pieces of short fiction, and an interview. It features writers representing many cultures: American, Azorean, Canadian, Chinese, Estonian, Faroese, French, and Korean (which doesn’t even begin to recognize the complex multicultural heritage/experiences of many of the writers).
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Although Basalt is based in and linked to the state of Oregon—taking its name from the igneous rock prevalent in the northwestern U.S.—a number of the pieces in this latest issue seem interested in crossing or expanding borders. While the front and back covers feature photographs of Oregon’s geography, the roughly thirty pages in between discuss the idea of place, both literally and figuratively.
  • Issue Number Issue 83
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I have always loved Brick, a handsome, polished, semi-annual from Toronto. The journal typically features some of the finest, and most influential, writers and from across the Americas and around the world (this issue’s stars include Michael Ondaatje, Eduardo Galeano, Edmund White, Dionne Brand, Francisco Goldman, Jim Harrison, Jack Spicer, and Juan Cruz for example); what I’d call “pure and original finds” (a brief essay on Harold Pinter by acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema, along with a marvelous photo of her and Pinter; and the posthumously published “Three Wishes” by Pannonica de Koenigswarter, fascinating black and white photos of and fragments from bebop and jazz musicians); and terrific graphics (some great photos in this issue).
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
While Bone Bouquet is subtitled “a journal of poetry by women,” the poems in this issue go beyond the idea of women writers only writing about women’s issues. Instead, it holds a wide spectrum of styles and subjects with only the commonality of being written by women.
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This issue sizzles, ignites, burns, and lights a literary fire with the special theme of “Heat.” The contest winner, Ann Cwiklinski, contributes a third-person narrative about a woman who takes her children for a day at the beach, but she cannot relax as she is constantly on the lookout to keep her children safe. Yet, as the sun blazes down on her, she is drawn to the water. She wants to take a swim by herself and perhaps disappear. Titled “Selkie,” this story came from Cwiklinski’s research about Irish folklore: “These weren’t romantic fairytales, but matter-of-fact stories about some local woman who jumped into the sea one day, her mild eccentricities finally making sense to her neighbors: ‘Shoulda known that she was part seal!’”
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  • Published Date August 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
With no more of an introduction than “It’s not all sunny skies and lake breezes. Deal with it. And read the new issue of Blue Lake,” this issue dives in with mixture of poetry, fiction, and essays.
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Created last Thanksgiving, Birdfeast aims to quarterly provide a feast of poetry; publishing all forms and styles. “Think of how you might see a dessert pudding sitting comfortably by a roast turkey on your Thanksgiving table,” the editors say.
  • Subtitle Texas Poetry Review
  • Issue Number Number 23
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2004
For those still Stone Age enough to think of Texas poetry as an oxymoron, welcome to Austin. Alex Grant’s “Vespers” offers home and peace and space and the beautiful old word quieten. Kelle Groom’s poems find the soul of things and help us hear the faint but heartfelt dialogue between the living and the dead: “I wonder / If they are always talking behind the glass, / Full of joy for us, if they are in the trees, swinging, / Smiling, saying live, live, live, & on this side / We hear birds, / Songs from far away.” Brenda Ladd’s photo series gives us lost-(or perhaps found) in-performance soul glimpses of the likes of B.B. King, Abbey Lincoln, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. (A white light shot of a joyful Ray Charles graces the issue’s cover.) Weston Cutter’s wondrous strange, down on all fours and calling “Same Animal” reminds us that evolution of the human kind can be a tricky proposition. To delight you even as it makes you weep that we’ve all but lost to computers the handwritten record of our writers’ painstaking choices is the manuscript page of Walt Whitman’s lovely “unpublished, undated, and perhaps unfinished fragment” “In Western Texas”:
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2004
The debut of a new literary journal always causes me a small pang in the breast. It can be such a vicious world for these little literary nestlings. A trim, handsome journal out of Greensboro, North Carolina makes its debut with this Fall 2004 issue, and if Volume 1 Number 1 is any indication, the folks behind Backwards City Review should be assured that, whatever perils await them on the road of financing, distribution, sales, etc., they’re well ahead of the game in the editorial department. This inaugural issue is happily modest, but by no means meager, in its offerings: 4 short stories, 1 nonfiction piece, 26 poems, 3 fascinating comics, and as a delightful bonus: a facsimile of a hilariously pungent dispatch from the famous Kurt Vonnegut, answering the query: “Where do you get your ideas from?” Michael Parker’s story “Results for Novice Males” pictures in restrained (but never constrained) prose, the sticky relationship between two fledgling triathlon competitors, each struggling through dysfunction from opposite poles of class, and takes its thematic cue from the compelling idea of “junk miles”—“the mileage one accumulates without actually getting better, stronger, faster.” Alix Ohlin’s “Local News,” concerns a TV reporter who dreams of a better, happier, more successful life, and finds herself dramatically subject to the maxim of her journalism teacher: “When you…break all the rules I’ve taught you, then you’ll know you’re working in news.” And Adam Berlin’s unique story “Speeding Away” portrays the mean-spirited machinations of two bachelor protagonists as they wriggle their way out of a promise to drive an annoying friend of a friend home to New York from an Indiana wedding. 
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2005
The second issue of Ballyhoo (meaning extravagant publicity—from the American, of course) brings together writers at all levels of their careers on the theme of “Songs and Cacophony.” The 8.5 x 11 black and white journal frames each story with a prominent black or white border. On the third anniversary of his mother’s death, Andrew Bomback’s narrator prank calls his ex to misquote the Beatles’ “I Will.”
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Part comic book, part ironic guidebook for today’s troubled yet repeatedly humorous world, the winter edition of Backwards City Review reveals the more playful side of the more reflective, more meditative literary journal; and yes, this is possible. While its contents won’t dazzle your minister—unless, of course, he’s not put off by a hearty double helping of sarcasm—this issue offers roughly 100 pages of quirky, if, at times, campy, quality writing, complete with a giant, purple, city-crushing, donut-eating robot on its cover. All the world an oddity. Let’s just say you know what you’re in for when you see the cover and your interest continues its meandering inside. 
  • Issue Number Volume 56 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Beloit Poetry Journal threw me for a loop with this issue, by including not one, or two, but seven poems by Mary Molinary at the beginning of the journal—and in a slim journal such as this one (48 pages total) this makes quite an impact. The upside of having so many poems by a single artist is that you get a good solid idea of that artist’s work. Molinary’s seven poems are seven lyric, existential takes on the time 8:38—in a style more post-avant-garde/experimental than you might expect from this journal. Does this signal a shift in editorial preference? I await the next issue to find out.
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  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This hefty journal is art-in-the-palm; it is a singular delight, a challenge, and a joy, all at once. Readers are presented with a collage of literature, poetry, memoir, music, and photography. This journal explores realms of authorship with notably startling computer images of Japanese mathematical scores by the renowned visual artist, Ryoji Ikeda.
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The editors of Barrelhouse can always be counted upon to present works that occupy the necessary space on the spectrum between “literary” and “pop culture.” Barrelhouse is the perfect journal to present to friends and family (or even strangers) who have far too long deprived themselves of the magic and potential of poetry, prose and even graphic art.
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This very cerebral and provocative issue of Black Warrior Review begins with an unexpected critique of U.S. culture and international perceptions of the U.S. in Beth Ann Fennelly’s poem, “Cow Tipping.” The idiotic “tradition” of cow-tipping is juxtaposed with the speaker’s confusion about negative views of U.S. society/culture in other countries; in the end, she begins to understand that these international criticisms view bragging about cow-tipping “at a party for a laugh” as representative of a self-centered approach to the world. This issue is full of great poetry, notably Stephanie Bolster’s “The Life of the Mind.” Bolster’s poems interpret paintings, Sylvia Plath’s last residence, and captions from books and newspapers. Her words animate material objects.
This well-regarded journal focuses on poetry and fiction that uses “the deep image,” so the work here, as you might expect, focuses less on the narrative thread and more on lyric imagery. The poetry here seems more successful than the short fiction. Take, for instance, the following lines with their trilling sound effects from Silvia Scheibli’s “Monsoon Season:”
  • Issue Number Volume 20 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2004
Ever wondered what would happen if a mermaid were inverted with scales on the upper half?
The slim, saddle-stitched new poetry journal out of Portland, Oregon looks like care and attention has been lavished on its design; it resembles a well-done chapbook, with its heavy cardstock paper and clean, clear typeset. And the poetry you’ll find won’t disappoint either. Many of the poems have a lyrical bent and pack an emotional punch. I particularly liked Virginia Mix’s piece, called “Boundaries,” which culminates in these eerie lines: “And I can also fast-forward five years, and / squat down in her tiny kitchen, 29 years / old and pregnant, whispering into the / goat’s silky coat after he spent the day / munching on toxic rhododendron. / I cover my ears as he moans and screams / while the poison rushes through his blood, / and hold him in my lap at four in the / morning, and the moonlight shivers off / the linoleum.” I am looking forward to more of Burnside Review after this promising debut. 
This newsprint journal out of Shoreline, Washington declares on its web site that its editors embrace the romantic tradition, are biased towards narrative, and pointedly are not interested in academic exercise, minimalism, or surrealism. I believe those declarations to be true, especially when I found that the cover art was photographed by someone named “Moondoggie” and that this issue features parts II and III of a story called “The Elf King.” It is indeed an eclectic mix of poems, art, and prose. Many of the poems contain the words “God,” “Heart,” “Sadness,” and there is a lot of weather present in the poems as well – rain, moonlight, snow, Springtime, etc. So be prepared for open-hearted (if sometimes simple) writing, and you won’t be disappointed with what you find. Mary Carol Moran has two poems in here that I liked, “The Dance” and “X’s and O’s.” Here is the first stanza from “X’s and O’s:”
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2005
Black Warrior Review does everything right. They consistently publish great fiction and poetry while doing things differently and standing out from the crowd. The most obvious example of this is their chapbook series: each issue includes a full-sized chapbook in its pages. The current issue is excellent from start to finish, and it seems impossible to decide what stands out the most: Julie West’s eight gorgeous full-color paintings? The minimal, haunting line-work of Richard Hahn’s comic? Adam Prince’s hilarious short story “The Triceratops”? One thing I feel compelled to comment on is G.C. Waldrep’s chapbook, “Precision Castanets.” His prose-poems here are written in dream-like prose with a strong inclination towards humor and absurdism. Maybe a cross between Ben Marcus and Dean Young could give you an idea. An excerpt from “Fight or Flight”: “The latest fashion was antlers.
This twice-yearly perfect-bound journal, which focuses on the practices and experiences of medicine, illness, and related topics, always contains touching fiction, non-fiction, and poetry of high quality. The knockout story for me in this issue was a delicate story of class, race, and responses to miscarriage, titled “Baby,” by Lois Taylor, and the poem “Being Nursed by Walt Whitman,” by Jennifer Santos Madriaga, about the experience of teaching poetry to dying students: “My father asks me what it’s like to teach / writing to dying people. ‘Are you afraid?’/ ‘Dad, we’re all going to die,’ I say. / ‘Yes,’ he says, ‘You’re right.’ / There’s a brief silence as static crackles / on the long distance telephone line./ ‘You’re right, absolutely right.’”
  • Issue Number Volume 59 Number 4
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Toby Wiliguru Pambardu’s poem “First Truck,” “splutters,” and spins, and gushes, and presses forward, with the wild, persistent, percussive energy of the strange and magical beast of a “first truck” on the plain. Written in Yindjibarndi, the indigenous language of the people by the same name of the Pibara region of Australia, the poem creates a rumbling across the page that “clatters,” “rattles,” and “whirls” like the vehicle itself. The poem is translated by Shon Arieh-Lerer whose translation is not, in fact, the first of this poem. This one “attempts to capture Pambardu’s daring innovation, excitement, and poetic style.” Even without the ability to read the original, I can see that Arieh-Lerer has succeeded, and the poem (which takes up four pages in an issue of a mere 35) – and the translation – are thrilling, a highlight of the issue.
  • Issue Number Volume 32 Issue 61
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Aimee Nezhukumatahil, 49th Parallel Poetry Award judge, is not exaggerating when she calls the prize-winning poem “gorgeous” and “breathtaking.” Kaveh Bassiri’s “Invention of God” is divine. From Bassiri’s clever, lyrical tercets to Mardi Link’s experience of Tractor Supply as “a spiritual moment” in the essay “Chicken Trilogy,” this issue of Bellingham Review is about pure pleasure: that particular and spectacular pleasure of purely good reading.
  • Issue Number Volume 58 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
What knocks me out about the Beloit Poetry Journal’s fall 2007 issue is the cover. On the front, there is a black-and-white portrait of a woman. Her dress is leopard print but modest. She holds her left arm across her chest, revealing henna calligraphy that runs from her forearm up and across her fingers. She is not beautiful in the way of Gwyneth Paltrow, but she is beautiful – a woman Picasso might have painted. Her eyes are wide and dark, her lips thick, her hair short and curly. Her necklace is a swirling flame. Most striking is a great dignity, the shoulders straight, the chin raised high. I was spellbound by these details, yet it took me several viewings to see that in between tiles that form the background – stars of David – are other tiles shaped like crosses. On the back is the same woman, same pose, same background. Here she wears a veil that covers everything but her face and left arm with its calligraphy. I suppose these photos may represent the meeting or juxtaposition of the three Holy Land faiths, but there’s no need for simple conclusions. The woman is breathtaking. She is how you would want a poem to be.
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brilliant Corners, “A Journal of Jazz and Literature” celebrates its tenth anniversary with this Summer 2007 issue, featuring numerous tributes to the late Whitney Balliet as well as poems, interviews and children’s poetry about jazz. For those like me wholly unfamiliar with The New Yorker jazz critic Balliet, you may be disappointed with the narrow scope of the journal.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
A very special Swayze section, where contributors praise the mulleted icon from Dirty Dancing all the way to Donnie Darko. An action figure portrait gallery featuring Spiderman in repose, the Lone Ranger and Silver facing down the camera. A punk rock interview with iconoclast Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and five-dollar Fugazi. “We have a thing for pop culture.” Issue Two of Barrelhouse is fun. Though it tends to the silly side of kitsch, the comic eccentricities of some of the prose belies the quality and craft of the storytelling. With nearly all of the prose coming from male contributors, you can expect some father-son stories. In “Hey Now, All You Sinners” by Brian Ames, a father searching for his bipolar son drifts further back in time to the love of his life before he had a family. Putting his wife in a non-coma pales to the confession he must make about his past. Another son suffers his football coach father by shuffling his dead mother’s belongings from one corner of the basement to another in “Rivals and Hyenas Alike” by Sean Beaudoin. “Luck is for losers,” he reminds a girl, in a laconic, sparse style apt for the despondent narrator.
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  • Issue Number Volume 61 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2010/2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The latest issue offers a high quality mix of poems exploring international themes and the idea of language. It announces the 18th annual Chad Walsh Poetry Prize winner, Charles Wyatt, for his poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens,” and includes an extensive review of the anthology Best American Poetry 2010.
  • Issue Number Number 33
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
BPR is one of those slim, no-nonsense poetry journals that publishes a strong selection of the best work that comes their way, followed by several book reviews. No filler, no academia, no kidding. In that spirit, I'll just get down to a couple of the poems I admired most, starting with James Doyle's playful "Magritte," in which "an admirer / has slid the skeleton of a pheasant" through the surrealist painter's mail slot.
  • Issue Number Issue 20
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Despite an impending hiatus, Editor Christopher Harter is optimistic that Issue 20 will not be the last batch of Bathtub Gin. The challenges of producing a lit journal be damned: Harter expects Gin to reach legal drinking age. The stapled, zine-sized journal features new and familiar artists contributing pieces on war, work and marginalization. Carmen Germain's broken verse gets better with each read, specifically in the fight between a homeowner and a nest-building wasp in "Work Like This": “Work like this makes / work. I aim the garden // hose, sorry that killing / comes to what's / mine, what's yours."
The Broken Plate is an annual produced by undergraduate students at Ball State University, which includes the work of many novice writers alongside more accomplished contributors. Particularly noteworthy are poems and essays in the "In Print Section," which  features the work of authors celebrated during the University’s In Print Festival of First Books (March 2009). This section is composed of essays on craft by fiction writer Kyle Minor and memoirist Laurie Lindeen, and the poetry of Nickole Brown. Minor and Lindeen’s essays are insightful explorations of their own artistic processes. Brown’s poetry is expertly crafted and polished. Her voice is wry and worldly, feigning innocence, but demonstrating savvy.
  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The first few pages in this volume of The Bitter Oleander feature international poems, each first in the author’s language followed by the translation. I’m not multi-lingual, but I like seeing the poem in its original form. It gives me a feel for what can’t be completely translated. One such challenging poem is Rafael Jesús González’ Mexico, a “homage to the country in erotic hue.” The sexually charged imagery, such as “The banana bloom hangs like a horse’s sex / & your rough breasts give oil to suck,” makes me wish I could read and understand it in its original Spanish, as some of the nuanced sensuality is probably lost with the hard consonant sounds of English.
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  • Issue Number Number 38
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The work in this issue of the Birmingham Poetry Review is terribly moving, highly accomplished, and unexpectedly inspiring. How not to be simply undone by Deborah Ager’s “A Poem in Which My Father is Not the Villain,” which opens the issue? “I believe we commit errors we want no one to know about, / that we wish we could bathe and be healed and sip whisky and be clean.”
  • Issue Number Issue 84
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Halldor Gudmundsson’s essay, “Halldor Laxness Across the Universe” opens the Winter 2010 issue of Brick, a Toronto-based literary journal. Using Nobel-Prize-winning-novelist Halldor Laxness as an example, Gudmundsson explores how literature travels and meaning evolves based on culture, language, and ideology. Building upon this premise, Bernardo Atxaga explores the publishing history of Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl” in Franco-era Spain. Yet, Jose Teodoro’s conversation with British writer Geoff Dyer and a subsequent excerpt from his novel, Out of Sheer Rage, serve as the thematic anchor for the rest of the journal.
  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2005
boundary 2 is a serious journal—with cover art by Theodore A. Harris titled "On the Throne of Fire after Somebody Blew Up America (for Amiri Baraka)."
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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The aims of Bone Bouquet’s editors have been abundantly achieved in this issue. The writers represented are women experimenting with imagery and poetic forms while at the same time exploring social agendas, dilemmas, and personal experience. Most of the selected poems subvert language and present readers with vocabulary and symbolism that confounds all expectations, expressing voices that are not often found in literary magazines.
  • Issue Number Volume 12
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
What I’ve come to expect of the Bitter Oleander is work that is unusual. Not odd or inaccessible or experimental, but unusual — poetry with unusual diction or an unusual tone and stories with unusual perspectives. This issue is no exception. I liked, in particular, poems by Shawn Fawson, George Kalamaras, and Kenneth Frost, and an amazing piece of short fiction by Michael Roberts, “Found in the Wreckage,” in which a man contemplates his own death in prose that is both chilling and lyrical. All of the fiction, in fact, is sharp, disturbing, and unforgettable. This issue’s special feature is a long interview with poet Martín Camps, conducted via email in English, and a terrific selection of his poems, translated from the Spanish by Anthony Seidman. (Camps was born and raised in Mexico; he studied in California where he now resides.)
  • Issue Number Volume 56 Number 4
  • Published Date Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I’m sure I finally understand the meaning of the term “fine etched” now, which I confess I wasn’t always certain I did, because I can think of no better phrase to characterize the luminous poems in this issue of BPJ. These poems are like this venerable journal itself, slender, deliberate, careful, and nearly perfect. Many are delicately wrought (poems by Sonja James, Marsha Pomerantz, Lynette Ng), others are urgent or exuberant, but never in a casual way (poems by Garth Greenwell and Anne Marie Macari), and a few are more direct, more immediate, and equally well crafted (poems by Kristina Martino and Malcolm Alexander). Poems by Aimee Sands, Robert Buchko, and B. Z. Niditch are a testament to the ordinary word’s exquisite potential, in the hands of a gifted writer, to reveal whole centuries, continents, and galaxies of thought in a few spare lines. Here is Niditch’s poem, “Holocaust and Art (Gorky, Celan, and Levi),” the last in the issue — a measure of how thoughtfully BPJ is edited, for what poem could follow?
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Bellingham Review, produced by Western Washington University, offers an outstanding selection of poetry in its fall issue. A number of the poems are inspired by visual art, such as Diane LeBlanc’s “Bardo,” Ricardo Pau-Llosa’s “Brujula,” and Matt Donovan’s “Guernica, First Draft”: “May 1, 1937, four days after the fact, / Pencil lead on blue notepaper, / contours, skeletal whorls.” Melissa Kwasny’s bold and sprawling poem, “The Waterfall,” is also a standout. The prose is strong as well, with a preference for straightforward, earnest narratives in fiction—
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The new issue of the Bat City Review starts off strong with Michael Czyniejewski’s “Pleurisy,” a strangely moving story where the small lies of a marriage get reflected in the inconsistency of the family dictionary's definitions and eventually other written materials in their home. Clocking in at only four pages, its slippery definitions haunt well beyond the story’s size on paper. Elsewhere, Maryl Jo Fox's “Marker” brings us a post-apocalyptic tale regarding an artist’s capture and near-escapes from the vain dictator who rules her world. As the warlord stages twisted beauty pageants and forces refugee artists to paint her image, the narrator can do nothing but flee uselessly towards the borders of her failed society. Cruel and evocative, “Marker” shouldn’t be missed by anyone interested in the quickly emerging slipstream genre. In poetry, Stephen Dunn’s “How to Write a Dream Poem” brings a light tone to the difficulty of conveying a powerful dream to someone else, its advice wisely steering the dream-writer away from truth and toward the more profound potentials of story, feeling, and those ever present dream symbols. 
  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date March 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Rage and risk in writing is a powerful tool that can generate the most passionate work. In Blood Lotus, issue 8, the editors believe that if you write you should “Write like words are beautiful, powerful and dangerous…” In “katrina” by R.D. Coleman we are exposed to such risks and conviction head on: “my family up and / left me here, they knew / it called to me. / ...could smell the gas out by / the road. / life was done, she said. / she surely meant to die.”
I immediately noticed that this small journal devotes a surprising amount of space to fiction and essays: 9 pieces total followed by 17 pages of reviews.
  • Issue Number Number 25
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Started in response to the Gulf War and the editors’ dissatisfaction with the self-absorption of much of contemporary poetry, Borderlands calls for work that “shows an awareness of connection—historical, social, political and spiritual.” Many of the poems in this issue do demonstrate this awareness, though never didactically.
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  • Issue Number Volume 29 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Occasionally the predominant voice of a journal can be found within a single statement embedded indirectly in a piece within. For this issue of Boulevard, one turns to Robert Zaller’s essay on Robinson Jeffers. Zaller writes that Jeffers defines “the task of culture as the pursuit of truth.” The essay is about the poet not the publication, but it speaks in microcosm what the journal does throughout. Boulevard does not seek to categorize the journal as something as amorphous as “the pursuit of truth,” but I think it presents at least twenty clips of veracity from aperture to aperture, until we barely recognize the camera against the disciplines of truth themselves.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date April 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Muse-Pie Press’s new magazine (they also publish Shot Glass Poetry and the fib review) puts out video and sound files of spoken word poetry. While this often includes slam poetry, it isn’t exclusively so: “Bent Ear Review is about giving a voice to poets, enabling them to express their work with their own emotions and passion in the form of the spoken word.”
This journal is always unpredictable and sometimes even startling. Editor Paul B. Roth promises to free us from "enslavement to the usual and expected" and the unexpected is certainly one of The Bitter Oleander's trademarks. "The fish arrived in my dresser drawer, / swathed in socks, its eyes calm as a desert."—a poem by Katherine Sanchez Espano opens the issue. This fish has something to say, of course: "I open its mouth and see pictures / of a lost Ticuman woman / who looks like me.” "The Fish" is representative of the issue as a whole: powerful work that means to change the way we think about the world around us or, at the very least, to change the way we read. The centerpiece of the issue is a series of poems by six Mexican poets, along with their "ars poetica."
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  • Issue Number Volume 23
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The worst part about The Briar Cliff Review is that it only comes out once a year. The journal, published by Briar Cliff University (Sioux City, IA), is packed with uniformly excellent work. Editor Tricia Currans-Sheehan managed to find poetry, prose, and artwork that are technically sound and satisfying to a wide range of readers.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Published by Lake Superior State University, Border Crossing shows just how vibrant a small journal can be. Many of the poems stand out, but it’s the first two lines of George Bishop’s “Watching Dolphins In the Harbor With the Homeless” that really stand out in my mind: “I found myself / carving silence into a shelter.”
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  • Issue Number Number 4
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Big Lucks, much like its name, has a quirky but earnest mission statement. “We at Big Lucks feel as if the most exciting and noteworthy writing lurks in the unlit depths of the ocean, amid the lifeforms and creatures humanity was never meant to see. It’s our goal to be the vessel—the nuclear submarine—that helps these new life forms breach the repetitive ebb-and-tide of this metaphorical ocean’s surface.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 24
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If I hear writers talking about literary magazines, I often hear them getting excited about some new magazine on the scene. They talk about the experimental aesthetic or the unique formatting or the promise of aggressive marketing. They talk about what they’ve submitted and what it might mean to get something accepted. They talk as though the magazine might just be the next Paris Review—or the next Beloit Fiction Journal, for that matter.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Issue 2
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Tomatoes, children, cats, drinks, and boats. Reading a poetry journal in one sitting can be problematic. You notice odd, inconsequential connections between poems, like those listed above. An excellent categorization of this issue of Bateau is that which the editors put forth: transformation and morphology. Themes aside, the charm of Bateau is in its understatement and uniqueness. Including the work of thirty well-accredited poets, this issue is a mish-mash of inventive, quirky poems that play with form and content, impressively pinpointing elusive emotions and giving artistic value to the most banal moments.
  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Broken Bridge Review sports a three-piece painting as cover art: three gorgeous blue-green panels titled “World View Trip-Tik” by Jessica Hathaway Scriver, painted on top of world maps. The editors chose to make this painting the inspiration for this issue, and included a substantial amount of material that is in some way connected to the political sphere.
  • Issue Number Volume 20
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
With a splendid cornucopia of colors and textures on the large, glossy front cover, and many gorgeous full pages of voluptuous art and photography within, The Briar Cliff Review could be a splendid coffee-table book. However, with the quality literature inside, it proves it is something more. The art is spectacular – twenty-two works from oil or acrylic to graphite, sculpture, even archival inkjet. Thirteen photographs are equally spectacular and eclectic – the issue is a feast for the eyes.
  • Issue Number Number 4
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of Beeswax Magazine, with its red and gray letterpressed cover and “hand-turned metal binding pegs,” is so beautiful I had a hard time opening it. When I finally did, I discovered the inside is just as distinctive as the outside.
  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date January/February 2009
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Boston Review essays tend to follow a somewhat predictable pattern, and I couldn’t be happier about it. A serious, well-informed, literate, critical mind challenges the conventional wisdom about a controversial and highly politicized subject or issue of undeniable significance and urgency. Here are the two opposing views we commonly hear and debate, the writer begins, but there is something wrong with each of them, and I want to offer an alternative, he concludes. Subjects covered in the current issue of the Review include the “post-racial” in the Obama era (Stephen Ansolabehere and Charles Stewart III); free market regulation (Dean Baker, Robert Pollin); tax cuts (Jeff Madrick); Guantanamo (David Cole); Afghanistan (Barnett R. Rubin); Iran (Abbas Milani); and new (old?) philosophical approaches to God (Alex Byrne).
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