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  • Issue Number Volume 86
  • Published Date Spring 2017
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

If you appreciate finely-crafted stories that draw you into their worlds so that you become unaware of yourself as a physical being, then you will want to read this issue of CutBank. The poetry, nonfiction, and fiction pieces blend language and form in such ways that permit them to exist somewhere in a writerless universe where they come into being, yet seeming to have always been there. The writing is done with such skill and attention that makes it possible for readers to be unaware of the writing in a metaphysical sense. For me, this is the best type of writing: work that does not draw attention to itself as writing but rises above its own existence to breathe the air of higher altitudes; readers enter this oxygenated space for the duration.

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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date Spring 2017
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online

I’m admittedly a bit of a homebody, but the idea of travel always sounds exciting, and Cargo Literary offers up that exciting feeling of going somewhere new, all from the comfort of your computer chair, or, if you’re less of a homebody than I am, your airplane seat on the way to your next destination.

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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date 2017
  • Publication Cycle Annual

The annual literary magazine Cherry Tree was founded three years ago by Maryland’s Washington College. Several longer stories dominate their plump 2017 issue, one of which is R.M. Fradkin’s stand-out “Out-of-Office.” If you have ever been frustrated by your email system, you will identify with her story-in-reverse about a librarian named Shavani and a gentleman, Valentine Izzo, who has an overdue library book.

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  • Issue Number Issue 67
  • Published Date Fall 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

One of my favorite David Bowie songs and music videos is “Loving the Alien” from his sixteenth studio album Tonight. The silver, almost robot-like characters in the video and haunting lyrics (“And your prayers they break the sky in two / Believing the strangest things, loving the alien”) invoke feelings of awe and discomfort about those who are different or “other” from ourselves. The Fall 2016 issue from Conjunctions literary magazine mirrors the powerful emotions of Bowie’s work in “Other Aliens.”

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  • Issue Number Volume 8
  • Published Date Spring 2016
  • Publication Cycle Annual

American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman once said, “War is Hell,” but Consequence magazine takes the hellish landscape of war and transforms it into inspiring works of art, fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Consequence is “an international literary magazine published annually, focusing on the culture and consequences of war.” The cover art of the current volume of Consequence exhibits this goal in a powerful illustration of life and beauty rising up from a mouth of suffering alluding to Picasso’s Guernica.

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  • Issue Number Issue 62
  • Published Date Winter 2017
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

Issue 62 of Creative Nonfiction (CNF) is dedicated to Joy. The published essays can be divided into two segments: essays about the craft of writing and essays following a more literary and narrative vein. Both segments best utilize the theme of joy when the authors bring the reader into the moment so we experience joy by their side.

  • Subtitle The Nature of the West
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  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2016-17
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

In a tribute to the major changes the United States has undergone since the election last November, the editors of Camas chose to make this issue one that commemorates the many beautiful aspects of our country. Through poetry, art, photography, fiction, and nonfiction, each piece celebrates the beauty of nature, diversity, and the true American spirit.

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  • Issue Number Number 23
  • Published Date Fall 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

The Fall 2016 issue of Copper Nickel from the University of Colorado Denver features poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and folios of works in translation. All the contributions are worth noting for the broad range of talent and skill, beginning with the variety of poetry, which is definitely of the quality we expect from this selection of experienced poets.

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  • Issue Number Number 29
  • Published Date Spring 2016
  • Publication Cycle Annual

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Cunningham (The Hours, The Snow Queen, A Wild Swan and Other Tales). The reading was inspirational not only for the works read but for the Q&A period following. Responding to a question about process and the willingness to pursue writing in spite of setbacks or crises of confidence, Cunningham made clear the importance of writers and their works to the world and how engaging in the pursuit is next door to alchemy. One begins with the same words accessible to everyone and creates something new on a page where there was nothing before. This is what each of the poets represented in this issue of the Columbia Poetry Review have done.

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  • Issue Number Premium Edition 16
  • Published Date Summer 2016
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

It’s been quite some time since I have been able to write a review for Carve—in fact the last issue I did review was Summer 2012, their final issue before moving to and including the new[ish] premium print edition—but I’ve been itching to do so for quite some time as I follow along with the places it is going. Although all stories are still available to read online for free, “because good honest fiction should never disappear into obscurity,” trust me when I say you’ll want to go ahead and purchase the premium edition.

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  • Issue Number Number 27
  • Published Date Summer 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Humanity has always been fascinated with death and invented stories to explore the possibility of life beyond death. Gilgamesh, distraught over Enkidu’s death in one of the world’s oldest bromance stories, dives into the underworld to unlock the secret to eternal life, but is outsmarted by a clever snake. Orpheus nearly resurrects his dead lover Eurydice after a private concert for Hades and Persephone, but fails because he can’t resist sneaking a peek over his shoulder at the last minute. Our fascination with death and resurrection continues to this day in popular culture, where superheroes are killed and brought back to life more times than that fellow from Nazareth. The summer 2016 issue of Conduit magazine, Digging Lazarus, presents a selection of talented writers who add their voices to the ongoing exploration of death and resurrection.

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  • Issue Number Issue 59
  • Published Date Spring 2016
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

This issue of Creative Nonfiction focuses on the sacrament of marriage. But if you think you’re in for an issue of romantic tales and happily-ever-afters, keep in mind that this magazine is nonfiction. While the wedding itself and much of a marriage can be happy, real life happens, and like anything lasting or worthwhile, it has its ups and downs. This issue explores many angles of marriage including “non-traditional” marriages, spur-of-the-moment marriages, fifth marriages, same-sex marriages, marriages that work, those that don’t. Paul Roden and Valerie Lueth’s (of Tugboat Printshop) beautiful and intricate woodcut prints are featured throughout the issue to tie it all together.

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  • Issue Number Volume 4
  • Published Date 2015
  • Publication Cycle Annual

The design of The Conium Review itself has a simple beauty. The design element of octopus tentacles wrap the outside white cover, and is repeated inside for each story title page. On the flipside of the story title pages, readers see what was on its other side, backwards and fading, as if looking out from inside a shop’s window—inviting readers to enter into the story to look at it from the inside out.

  • Issue Number Volume 34 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

True to its name, this journal’s stated ambition is to provide college instructors with new ways of organizing their material for classroom presentation. Comprised entirely of literary essays, I was often hard-pressed to find evidence of the CL’s pragmatic impetus, which was often sequestered in the endnotes, or tacked on as an afterthought in the concluding paragraph. Cross-pollinatory or not, the essays in College Literature are recommendable on their own merits; Zora Neale Hurston finds her home in a multiplicity of pedagogies, while Russian formalist Mikhail Bakhtin’s prejudice against the poem (too self-assured to be a truly dialogic, and thus vital, enterprise) is called into question. D.H. Lawrence, LeRoi Jones, Brigit Pegeen Kelly also make appearances.

  • Issue Number Number 3
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Call doesn't include contributors' notes, but few of these poets require them. The twenty poets represented here include Diane Wakoski, Annie Finch, Peter Gizzi, Virgil Suarez, Rachel Hadas, Nathaniel Mackey, Cole Swenson, Mary Jo Bang, and Jerome Rothenberg, among other poetry greats.

  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

This slender, elegant prose poetry journal is full of rhythmically lucid, semantically challenging works. The digital ululations of Andrew Zawacki’s “Roche Limit” crackle with imagistic suggestiveness never yielding to static; Jason Zuzuga’s tight-lipped description of abandoned cargo containers in “Donald Judd” proves that “nothing” can be bordered, defined, organized, and given a delightful shape. Most successful are David Lehman’s wry facsimiles, particularly “Poem in the Manner of Ernest Hemingway.”

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  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Since 1976, CALYX has published art and literature by women. Senior editor Brenna Crotty describes this issue as a “search for meaning and identity.” More specifically, this issue resembles Cindy Cotner’s cover art, “Becoming.” The contributors examine how we become who we are, even as we grapple with the fact that often there is no recipe and no completion. Becoming is a continuous process.

  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2003

This last issue to be edited by David Milofsky ("…it's important to know when to write the conclusion…") is a study in contrasts. For the most part, the fiction is plainspoken, colloquial, and of the moment. The poetry, on the other hand, tends toward the abstract, fragmented, and difficult, with marvelous syntactical configurations in poems both long and short.

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  • Issue Number Issue 12
  • Published Date Winter 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Melissa Gwyn’s oil painting on the cover of Catamaran Literary Reader hints at the 40 spectacular works inside by various artists. Gwyn’s creations are hard for me to describe, so I’ll let her do it: “Drawing upon the opulence and detail of Netherlandish painting and the sensual materiality of Abstract Expressionism, my work explores an ‘embarrassment of riches’ that is both visual and thematic.” Her description still leaves me hanging, but it doesn’t distract from the beauty and complexity of her paintings that appear to be flowers or buds and other times appear otherworldly.
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  • Issue Number Volume 12 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
With sixty poems, eight fiction pieces, three nonfiction essays, four reviews, five new translations and a featured artist, the 223-page 2016 winter issue of The Cincinnati Review has more than a little something for everyone. It’s biblical in scope, thick in thought and entertaining as hell.
  • Subtitle The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Issue 3
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“The memory is merely a summary/of the last time I remembered it,” writes Michael Penny in his wonderful poem, “In Memory.” Memory is the theme of the issue, which, among a collection of poems worth remembering, includes interviews with poets Aislinn Hunter, Laurie Block, and Doug Nepinak. I was unfamiliar with many of the poets here, most of whom have published primarily in Canadian journals, and I was happy to be introduced to their strong, original work.
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  • Issue Number Issue 5 Volume 1
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Cumberland River Review’s self-defined goal is “to feature work of moral consequence—work that transports us.” And not just sometimes, but “always.” I tried to sort that out from the added fact that the publication is produced by the department of English at Trevecca Nazarene University, which could further weight whole concept of “moral consequence”— as if we English folk don’t do it enough on our own, let’s just add the mission of a Christian university to that. Relax—we’re not talking preachy, biblical moralities here. Rather, CRR editors have a clear sense of selecting writing that seeks to question, even challenge, what moral means, and in doing so, cause readers to seriously consider the consequences in their own lives.
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  • Published Date January 2016
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Crab Fat Magazine—already a publication seeking more diversity in literature—presents their January 2016 “QPOC Issue,” featuring work by 14 queer poets of color. This issue is a strong one, filled with a variety of poetic styles that will leave readers entranced, their eyes opened.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date October 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Common magazine aims to present “bold, engaging literature and art.” Two informative essays accompanied by art definitely meet that criteria. The first, “Millennium Camera” by Jonathon Keats, is a fascinating look at a pinhole camera he created “with a one-thousand-year exposure time that will remain inside Amherst College’s Stearns Steeple until 3015” when an image over time will be captured for a future generation to see. With that in mind, there’s a wonderful surprise for current readers. On the last page of this magazine is a diagram for a Century Camera that can be cut out, assembled, and exposed for 100 years.
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  • Issue Number Number 56
  • Published Date Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Pinning down a comprehensive definition of the term creative nonfiction appears to be an imprecise, ongoing pursuit. Creative Nonfiction’s section editor Dinty W. Moore tackles the subject with “A Genre by Any Other Name?” Noting that Creative Nonfiction Editor Lee Gutkind did not invent the term, Moore brings in quotes from essayist Phillip Lopate and author Philip Gerard who pooh-pooh the term, then he picks up more positive opinions of the classification, calling on various other writers, editors, and critics.
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  • Issue Number Issue 12.5
  • Published Date June 2015
  • Publication Cycle Print Biannual
Cactus Heart is one wicked lit mag. With a spiny cactus bursting out of a skeleton ribcage as their logo, don't go searching these pages for the soft and sentimental. No box of Kleenex needed here. Instead, be ready to steel yourself against hard truths, take a moment's pause to settle quietly brutal characters into your imagination, and shift world views subtly through the surreal and abruptly through the confessional.
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  • Issue Number Volume 31
  • Published Date Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The year was 1964 and Leonid Brezhnev had just taken control of the Soviet Union. Nikita Khrushchev had recently been expelled as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as well as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, thoroughly ending another era of autocracy in Soviet Russia and ushering in a collective leadership. Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin took the stage to powerhouse Russian politics, and henceforth brought about the Era of Stagnation in the USSR, creating hardship and creative inspiration for citizens of the massive state.
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Doesn’t everybody just love a winner? Especially when it comes to reading the winning entries of a writing contest published in a journal’s newest issue. Chariton Review’s Spring 2015 issue starts off with the winner and finalists of their short fiction prize, judged by Christine Sneed. And, let’s be honest: the reason we love these as readers (and maybe writers ourselves) is because we want to see if we agree with the judge!
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I began reading Chagrin River Review. Perhaps the multicolored cover featuring a light dangling above a spray-painted wall convinced me I was getting into something a little brighter than what I found in this issue’s fiction. While not the sunniest magazine I could've chosen, I was left feeling anything but disappointed.
On the outside, Carve appears to be another waiting room read. Typically, literary reviews are thick and novel-esque. Not Carve. It’s thin (only 50 pages) and non-threatening. Cutesy, but attention-grabbing, vector art garnishes its glossy cover, embodying the literal definition of “magazine.” A rarity in form, I grabbed Carve before any other magazine in the pile.
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Chattahoochee Review is published quarterly in paperback by Georgia Perimeter College, located in Decatur, near Atlanta. According to their website, “our roots are in the South,” but the review publishes work from all over the world, in all genres.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Cossack Review is a publication that demands readers enter with a mind truly open to the unexpected and nonconformist. “Transit” is the theme of this issue, and Editor Christine Gosnay says they have selected works from writers “who create strange, overgrown worlds in clean and controlled ways, making transit through those worlds a rich and realized journey.” Well, okay, let’s see then.
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  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Concho River Review is a traditional literary magazine, offering the old-fashioned pleasures of text and comprehensibility under the motto “Literature from Texas and beyond.” Published twice a year in paperback by Angelo State University, and part of the Texas Tech University System, the contents are mostly from Texas, with little from beyond. They are neatly arranged in sections for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and book reviews, with roughly equal amounts of each, with no graphics or artwork.
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  • Issue Number Issue 191
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Cimarron Review touts that they’re “one of the oldest quarterlies in the nation,” with a founding year of 1967. The Spring 2015 issue demonstrates why they’ve been around so long, with compelling poetry and fiction spread across 104 pages, sure to win over new readers and keep subscribers around.
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
If you have young people in your life you want to inspire to read and write, The Caterpillar is your way to reach them. Published by the same folks who bring The Moth to young adult readers, The Caterpillar is geared toward an even younger crowd, the 7 – 11-ish range, which can be a tough group to target with the right amount of enjoyable silliness as well as seriousness for the more critical among them, but The Caterpillar gets the mix perfectly.
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  • Issue Number Issue 12
  • Published Date February 2015
  • Publication Cycle Annual
When I first laid my eyes on the cover of the newest issue of Caketrain, I knew I would be in for a treat. The cover images titled “Kingdom of Heaven” by Yonca Karakas Demirel are both aesthetically pleasing and intriguing—they ask the reader to open the journal and explore what is within this issue’s pages. I expected fresh, new, and inspiring ideas that would make me want to write and that is exactly what I got; Issue 12 of Caketrain will not leave lovers of contemporary creative writing unsatisfied.
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  • Issue Number Number 87
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Perhaps my favorite poem in this issue of Crazyhorse is the “Poem for the Giraffe Marius,” written by Christopher Kempf. The poem details the death of Marius, a giraffe who was executed via a bolt gun at the Copenhagen Zoo, “Because they said genetics [ . . . ] inbreeding. Because when the steel bolt retracts, the giraffe’s / skull crumpling // on itself like a cup.” Kempf continues, “There is [ . . . ] an element / of cruelty rooted in every spectacle.”
  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Court Green does as good a job as any journal I know of offering just the right mix of established and lesser-known poets.
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  • Issue Number Volume 64 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
According to the cover, the Summer 2014 edition of The Carolina Quarterly is said to be full of “fairy tales, and pheromones, pious knives and lullabies, plus dust, dreams and winged messengers,” but it’s also chock full of darkness and hope, especially in the fiction and nonfiction entries. The Summer 2014 edition takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of loss, love, and optimism.
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Fall 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I haven’t reviewed many literary journals despite my sixty-something years on earth, since many of those years were spent in the Navy and at sea. I’ve never read a journal cover-to-cover until I perused the Fall 2014 issue of The Common, a relatively new journal, first published in 2011, and headquartered at Amherst College. And I didn’t expect it to make me feel like this was my journal; like I’d selected all of the pieces I want to find in a journal: fiction, poetry, essays, and photography.
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  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 1
  • Published Date January 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Now in its sixteenth volume, Cider Press Review has not only established itself as a quality journal that publishes excellent poetry, but a quality journal that publishes excellent poems that complement each other. All of the pieces in this issue fit, they go together, not like peanut butter and jelly (because while delicious, not really similar) but like cinnamon and sugar (both delicately sweet, combined to make an even greater flavor). The issue is prepped with the first poem, Lynn Pedersen’s “Begin.” It’s the start of a journey, but “How do you map that? What part of a mountain range, / what river corresponds to fantasy?” And while you cannot be sure what you will need, eventually you have to just go, “Otherwise, / there’s no one to tell the story.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The prose and the poetry in this issue of the Colorado Review are in two separate sections. And the issue certainly feels like two different journals, the prose accessible and filled with gripping stories, and the poems experimental and eclectic.
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  • Issue Number Number 81
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
CutBank is a biannual literary journal run by the English department at the University of Montana. The journal is in its 40th year of publication and prides itself in publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art from both established and up-and-coming writers and artists. CutBank proclaims they are “global in scope, but with a regional bias” that allows people joy by helping them to “discover and develop a fondness for the new work” that it features. In this issue of CutBank, there is page after page of phenomenal writing that your heart will grow fond to love.
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  • Issue Number Number 25
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Conduit carries a byline of “Failing Famously.” It is roughly 11 inches high by 4 inches wide and is a visual pleasure with interesting color schemes and artwork sprinkled throughout. The physical layout truly lends itself well to the presentation of poems that might not have fit on more traditional 7-inch pages. Viewing a poem on a single page carries substantial effect for empowering the words! I would love to be able to give specific pages of reference to anyone interested in picking up a copy of Conduit based on this review, but I can’t. Editors made a very bold choice to use words associated with failure as their method of pagination! What some might call page 1, the creative team at Conduit decided to call “accident.” The last page of the magazine is called, “zero.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 7
  • Published Date September 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Not having reviewed Cleaver Magazine since its launch with the preview issue, I felt it was high-time I check back in to see how it is evolving, and this issue did not let me down. Each contribution to the issue is well thought-out and carefully crafted. After reading Amelia Fowler’s “Space and Time,” I was surprised to find out that it is her first publication. Props to Cleaver for snatching her up, because I imagine there is only more publications to come for this writer.
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  • Issue Number Volume 28 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Based at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Cream City Review is a fun, slim publication that opens its pages wide to different aesthetics and styles. There are magical stories set side-by-side with realist flash fiction, and in the middle of the issue is a special feature on Native writing. It’s rare that I’m able to say I have no clue what to expect from one page to the next in a literary journal, but in Cream City Review, that’s absolutely the case. This is not a criticism, though: instead of seeming scattered or overloaded, the journal is a merry-go-round of brightly colored poems and stories.

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  • Issue Number Volume 62
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

The first and most obvious thing to notice about Conjunctions is that its biannual print anthology is enormous. This issue is more than 300 pages, featuring work by Brian Evenson, Laura van den Berg, Robin Hemley, Gabriel Blackwell, and others. The theme of the issue, “exile,” is addressed both literally and figuratively, with work often revolving around ideas of social exile and self-exile as well as physical displacement.

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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date April 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

An understated sophistication distinguishes The Common. At only its seventh issue, it has the tone of one who is confident of its place in the world. Many times, I paused in my reading to savor the ingenuity of a conceit or turn of phrase, but I never felt as if anyone represented in this issue was trying too hard to impress. They don’t have to: firmly in control of their craft, they steer the reader to exactly where they want her to go.

One cannot help but be carried along in the surprising and delightful rhythms of the “speechifying” of the non-native English speaker, or perhaps a native speaker of a variety of South Asian English—certainly as much a standard as any in this age where English is the world’s dominant lingua franca—in Manohar Shetty’s poem “Toast.

  • Issue Number Number 70
  • Published Date Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Crazyhorse has been so good for so long, I opened the pages of this issue expecting to be bored by its brilliance. Instead, Crazyhorse Number 70 features stories that are so fascinating that boredom is out of the question. Crazyhorse does not rely on heavy plotting; the plots are, in fact, fairly mundane. It is the writing that contains much of the appeal. Fiction Prize Winner “Dog People” by Steve Mitchel tells the story of a divorced father and his children, love life, and ex-wife.
  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 4
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2011
In N.D. Wilson’s story “Conversations with Tod,” the narrator lives across from an evangelist with twin nymphet daughters who have vowed to remain virgins for life. “God doesn’t ask a lot,” says one of the Lolitas, “just everything.” The narrator leers and Wilson steers the narrative to unexpected places, in unexpected confines. A crow plays a negative part (but have crows ever been positive other than in the two movies named after them?)
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date June 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Communion is a brand new online literary journal, this being their first issue, just published this month. They look for and publish work that moves them either emotionally or intellectually but really aim for work that “reflects the concept of communion—with others, self, the world at large.” And from reading the first issue, I’d say they are hitting the ground running with this goal.
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  • Issue Number Volume 15
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Clare, a literary journal produced by students and faculty at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, has recently moved from a print publication to an online endeavor, and this is its second issue in that form.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This journal is a lean sixty-seven pages of poetry. No editor’s remarks, no advertisements or indices, no author bios, no other genres. The state where each author lives is identified in the table of contents and that is all. The attention in The Cape Rock is all on the work.
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Cave Wall is a poetry journal inundated with the idea that all of us are traveling between borders as well as the metamorphosis such trips often engender. It is the transformative that exists in the perils and joys of every day existence that line the often narrative structures of each poem. The dark woodcuts by Dennis Winston add to this evocative rendering of the every day, whether it is in his piece “Winter Haze” or the melancholy and subdued image of the boy in “Innocence.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 61 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” As the venerable Carolina Quarterly enters its 64th year of publication in 2012, the answer from discerning readers, and good writers, must be yes. Poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and graphic art accepted by the CQ’s editors provide a select tour through recent works of both polished and emerging writers and artists. Thematically, this issue features that which is certain—death and Texas.
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  • Issue Number Volume 5
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This fifth publication of Cake contains exceptional writing, including poetry, fiction, reviews, drama, and interviews. Breauna Roach’s poem “Scrambled” left me a bit unsettled, but there is no doubt as to her genius. Roach begins by revealing her discovery that cupcakes are never found in a garbage disposal, they are sweet desserts that would be shameful to waste; however, eggs are a whole different story:
  • Issue Number Number 69
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’m not sure what CutBank means but I now know it’s synonymous with great fiction and poetry. A university-based journal, it manages to attract emerging and established writers with serious credentials. Some of its contributors have had work in Tin House and McSweeney’s, two of the best if not the most recognizable literary journals.
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The Colorado Review is one of the most reliably satisfying journals I know, with an editorial vision that is eclectic and generous, but not haphazard – a solid, but never stodgy collection of mature work. Summer 2008 features four short stories (by Kristin Fitzpatrick, Dawna Kemper, Lon Otto, and Kirsten Valdez Quade), all of which “accent the complex spaces between parents and their children,” and one of which, Valdez Quade’s “Den Mother,” is the winner of the 2007-2008 AWP Intro Journals Project, selected by Kwame Dawes. All constitute fine, enjoyable reading. These are competent, traditional stories with characters readers can care about and identify with.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
In her editor’s note, Sara Rauch hopes that this issue will “bring the bright and wild and unusual into your spirit this winter.” Certainly, there are images such as these throughout the issue that bring a little warmth to my room: “there lies me and you sitting on the floor / with a bucket of strawberries, whipped cream . . .” (Shannon Shuster’s “alright  .”); “standing at the water’s edge / leaning against the night breeze / taut as harp strings for balance” (Ned Randle’s “Lake Song”); “When I was younger I would wait / for the first bloom of the blackberry / thickets and collect berries in a mason jar” (Matthew Wimberley’s “Indian Summer, Reading Lorca”); and “The heat pins my shirt to my skin like a silver star” (Arah McManamna’s “Cactus Flower”).
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This magazine's second issue shows the same strengths that reviewer Sima Rabinowitz found in its inaugural issue last year—windows into China’s national culture and experience, uniquely personal poems in excellent translations, and stunning graphics. An offspring of World Literature Today and a publication of the University of Oklahoma, Chinese Literature Today will be an important resource for followers of the Chinese literary scene, and is likely to make converts of others who seek to connect with this turbulent and vital society.
This issue of Canary, a new poetry journal with high production values featuring a completely black cover with only “Canary” and “2” visible, displays the talents of poets diverse as Thomas Lux and Olena Kalytiak Davis. Poems, which range from highly experimental to traditional forms, occasionally include visual media such as illustrations, plain lines, or even, an autograph of a pop culture icon, as in “Poem with Erik Estrada Autograph.” As a representative sample, here are some evocative lines (lines breaks and stanza breaks condensed for the interests of space in this column) from Michael Dumanis’ “West Des Moines”:
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I wish I would have discovered Cream City Review twenty years ago. This issue on memoir, which celebrates the journal’s thirtieth anniversary, was the high point of my holiday reading because every piece offers something of interest. In his excellent introduction, an excerpt from his forthcoming book Then, Again: Aspects of Contemporary Memoir, Sven Birkerts draws distinctions between autobiography, memoir, and traumatic memoir. Wisely, the editors of Cream City Review also distinguish between “fictional memoir” and “nonfiction memoir.” Of these, I particularly enjoyed the fictional “The Fall of Iran” by Ed Meek—an adventure—and the nonfiction “Seven Dwarf Essays” by Michael Martone—an exploration of son Sam’s interest in dwarfs and the wider implications of dwarfism.
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Doing justice to the 25th Anniversary issue of Conjunctions in a brief review is almost a crime in and of itself. Simply put: you won’t know where to start. I recommend Bradford Morrow’s introduction; this interposition of historical details and expressions of gratitude proves good preparation for the aggressive experimentation that ensues. The first offering, by Jonathan Lethem, features the antics of various characters marooned on an island after an airplane crash, who, as they document their disparate reflections of the enclosed landscape, collectively call into question the anthologizing process. Similarly, Rick Moody’s contribution reads like an acidic installment of “Sedaratives” from The Believer: a verbose advice columnist’s gleeful delivery of Mencken-esque dismissals is interrupted by the intrusion of a square-jawed, simple-minded, weightlifting, gun-toting allegorical figure called “American Literature,” who eventually shoots out the columnist’s entrails before fleeing to New Mexico.
  • Issue Number Volume 52 Numbers 2/3/4
  • Published Date Autumn 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
That a self-portrait of Kenneth Rexroth looks out from the cover of this sixtieth anniversary issue is à propos as its first 180 pages celebrate the centenary of Rexroth’s birth.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 4
  • Published Date October 2009-January 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Carpe Articulum defines itself “the original magazine of its kind,” its kind being a “cross-genre international literary review that embraces all of the peripheral literary arts, including non-fiction, interviews with accomplished writers, novellas, short fiction, scientific papers, and even photography, understanding that a great photo is in fact, worth a thousand words.” The journal is not “barred from timely issues” or to “hundreds of pages of colourless excavations.” It’s also as heavy as a globe. Printed on glossy stock with a thick perfect binding, oversized (probably 9 x13 or so), photos that bleed across the page with poems printed in the foreground, and ads that look like feature pages and feature pages that look like ads, the journal is, indeed, one of a kind.
I opened Cadences, a Journal of Literature and the Arts in Cyprus wondering whose story would be honestly told and how well. Having lived in Turkey for a couple of years in the 1990s, I knew Cyprus – a pretty island in the Mediterranean and “shared” by both Turkey and Greece – to be caught in a political tug of war between the two countries. Published by the European University of Cyprus, Cadences presents itself as a bridge between the Greeks, Turks and other peoples on the island and lets the reader know its advisory board is made up of writers from the Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot, Armenian Cypriot, Palestinian-American, American and London Cypriot communities. Once the “Editorial Statement” covers all these bases, the editors get down to business, stating: “Writers inevitably see things differently from politicians.”
  • Issue Number Volume 56 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2004
Established back in 1948, the tiny literary magazine known as The Carolina Quarterly is a model of humility: a pamphlet-style book not even a hundred pages long, yet filled with writing of such distinction that the reader is provoked to the kind of loving pondering elicited by publications of the snazzier variety. After careening straight through this winter issue, I found myself turning it over and over in my hands in wonder.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 4
  • Published Date January 2005
When a magazine reaches its fourth issue, it’s safe to say that the editors have learned how to bridge their own literary vision with a corresponding body of work.
This handsome new journal, from its burnished full-color matte art-adorned cover (beautiful work by painter Gaither Pope) to the last page, left a surprisingly pleasant impression. The roster of contributors includes a diverse but impressive set of writers, including David Lehman, Beth Ann Fennelly, and Pulitzer-winner Robert Olen Butler, just to name a few. I especially enjoyed Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poem “At Medusa’s Hair Salon.” Here’s an excerpt: “…I say to Henri, Cut it, // cut it all. It’s clear no one in the salon knows / how Medusa even became a Gorgon;…who would want her hair cut to stun / men into giant concrete tongues, lapping / for air.” I also very much enjoyed the poem that answers that largest of questions, “Why So Many Poets Come From Ohio,” by Margo Stever, especially the line about “why shopping malls built to last / for centuries.”
  • Issue Number Number 70
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
What captures my attention and then holds my interest is Cutbank’s predilection for strong, inviting first lines. Ingrid Satelmajer’s story “How to Be a Disciple” starts off the issue: “Sure, there’s the obvious – Jesus H. Christ, as Binky says, his thumb between a wrench and a hard place.” Rebekah Beall’s personal essay, “Sight,” which begins with “My God, you’re heartsick.” Cara Benson’s prose poems (though I am not sure they couldn’t also be labeled sudden fiction), which begin: “The kettle was boiling above and the baskets were underfilled” and “Everybody walked in the room I mean everybody in the same room then walking around that room to sniff the walls as a type of appraisal of that room.” And Daniel Doehr’s “The Ticket Office Girl,” which opens with, “I saw the ticket office girl again.”
  • Issue Number Number 36
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Lee Gutkind is right. His ledes (opening lines) are better. This issue’s theme is “First Lede, Real Lede” and in his introduction, Gutkind lets us know that the magazine’s editors have rewritten three of the eight essays’ ledes in search of the “real” (and more effective) beginnings. What’s more, he invites us to compare the originals and the new-and-improved ledes for ourselves, as the originals have been posted on the journal’s Web site. (All three are supposedly available, though only two had live links when I visited.) Creative Nonfiction’s revised ledes are so much better; in fact, I was all the more eager to know which of the other opening lines had also been revised. Alas, I’m left to wonder.
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  • Issue Number Number 76
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published by the University of Montana, CutBank turns a neat trick: the journal reads like a great radio station sounds. Each short story, poem and piece of nonfiction flows into the next in an interesting, thematic way. A short story about a man who tickets rainwater collectors precedes a pair of poems about the calmer ways in which rain complements our lives. A short story featuring an uncle who stands in, slightly, for the boy’s father is followed by a nonfiction piece in which the author seeks to understand his uncle’s suicide. In this way, Editor-in-Chief Josh Fomon has created a sense of momentum, propelling the reader through the slim volume.
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  • Issue Number Number 80
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Crazyhorse, its pages wide, heavy, and flexible, curls over the hand. The paired-down design seems to say, “let the work speak for itself.” And the work does just that. A well-handled mix of genres, styles, and subjects makes this issue of Crazyhorse exciting to read and disappointing to finish.
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  • Issue Number Volume 9
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I earmarked dozens of pages while reading through the magazine as it is absolutely brimming with bright pieces that speak for themselves. Many poems are just a few lines but force the reader to stop and ponder the full impact and resonating meaning. After I read Charles Jensen’s one sentence poem, I got up and started telling everyone in my house about the amazing poem I just read: “Planned Community.” I mean, wow! There is setting, characters, description, action, movement, sound, and the list goes on. So much is accomplished in just a short sentence. Court Green putting out a dossier for short poetry was not a tall order; there are many more fantastic poems just like it.
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  • Issue Number Issue 178
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Cimarron Review, with its clean, slim design, wants to be read. The cover art speaks of rural America, and the pages blister with the richest poetry. The fiction and nonfiction, while skillful, act like a gap-stuffer, filling out the space between poems.
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  • Issue Number Number 21
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
They won’t sell you this issue unless you promise to perform jumping jacks while you’re reading it! This issue’s theme is “Bodies in Motion. Dance, Sport Momentum.” And, wow, does it have momentum. From its tall skinny profile (maybe all that exercise helps the mag keep its shape), to the movement metaphor page numbering system (“ace,” “alley-oop,” “balance,” etc.), to the baseball diamond staff list, to the illustrated contributors’ notes for the issue’s “schematics” (a rollerblader, a juggler, etc.), this is one issue on the go.
  • Issue Number Issue 45
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
There is something sinister about children (a fact every Hollywood horror movie knows), with their made-up languages, their hidden play spots and their games of Hangman. The work in Conjunctions 45 makes good use of this, offering up a thick portion of eeriness in their “Secret Lives of Children” issue.
  • Issue Number Volume 18
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2005-6
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In bookstores, the quirky and curious Carousel is filed under Literary or Visual Art. This international journal offers poems, cartoons, drawings, cartoon-like drawings, a few ads, mixed media, boobs, prose poems, a naked woman embracing a polar bear, charcoal watercolors, macabre big-faced drawings on graph paper, a list of phobias and more.
  • Issue Number Volume 10
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Today at lunch my friend Libby told me about her plans to teach a course in dangerous writing. “You write about the thing that scares you the most,” she explained, “and turn it in to art.” In this issue of Clackamas Literary Review, my favorite pieces were ones that might be categorized as “dangerous.” For example, in Paul Yoon’s story “Lys,” the narrator skids through the precipitous terrain of subtle, taboo desire with his recently deceased father’s French mistress. Jose Skinner’s astonishing fiction, “Counting Coup,” the most provocative piece in this issue and definitely dangerous, cuts as close to the bone as any story can, laying bare an Apache boy’s sexual coming-of-age and subsequent betrayal. And Nancy Mayer’s essay, “Becoming Her Daughter,” honestly and unflinchingly explores the author’s relationship, past and present, with her ailing mother, and her complicated feelings upon her death.
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  • Issue Number Number 10
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Court Green devotes a big chunk of every issue to a dossier on a special topic or theme. This year it’s sex. There are many fine poems here, but before I get to them, I want to make an observation based on reading so many poems about sex in one bunch.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“A themed journal of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photography and miscellany,” this issue is a “Chekhov Bilingual” comprised of an introductory essay by editor Tamara Eidelman; excerpts from “Notebooks” by Ivan Bunin (1870-1953), one of Chekhov’s contemporaries; a poem by Sasha Chyorny (1880-1932) “Why Did Chekhov Quit this Earth So Soon?”; and 8 stories and play excerpts by the great master, some newly translated. It is fantastic, even for those of us who do not read Russian, to have the originals and the translations side by side, and I wish more journals would follow suit and publish the originals as an integral component of presenting non-English work. I was delighted, too, to learn in the publisher’s note, that 1,000 copies of the journal were given to Russian language students at several hundred high schools and universities around the US, thanks to a grant to the magazine from The Ruskkiy Mir Foundation.
Clearly I can’t claim that Call is, as well, the best damn debut of the year, but an argument can and should be made that: 1. It’s very, very good, with some brilliant work within (this means you T. R. Hummer); 2. All this neighing about the poor state of the literary condition seem, if not exaggerated, then at least nonsensical: if Call and Swink can both debut, we’re all fine.

The Chattahoochee Review has put out a sparkling issue, with dazzling poems and evocative nonfiction. In "Swimming at Sounion" (in the Greek headlands), Stephan Malin paints a work of stunning description, creating the sensation of swimming through clear water surrounded by blueness.

In this issue of the feminist (and I use that term in the best possible way) journal Calyx, fertility, childbirth and motherhood are recurrent themes, in pieces such as the poems “Your Underwear Showing,” “Womb of Womanhood,” “Rags of the Moon” and prose pieces “Rest Stop” and “Forfeiting Motherhood.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 32
  • Published Date October 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Starting off this issue of poetry magazine Chantarelle’s Notebook is a poem that easily reveals its insight, a trait found throughout the issue. LaMar Giles’s “Uninspired” pokes fun at current popular music, noting that “a sudden breeze / moves me more / than music nowadays.” It’s short, fun, and makes its point clear.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
A cutthroat is a kind of trout — and this must surely be what the journal's name refers to, given the beautiful painting by Albert Kogel, "Rush Hour Fish," on the cover—although it's hard not to think first of its better known connotations (a murderer or someone who is a ruthless competitor).
  • Issue Number Number 16
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Great literature always seems, to me, to suggest a sort of other-worldly thoughtfulness. Everything, of course, requires thought of some sort, but those who write bring a little something extra into the world. This issue of Conduit provides rebellious proof. All that is contained within the covers – narrative, story, art, interview, and photography – is impressively different from anything, in memory, I've read.
  • Issue Number Volume 55 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2003
"There's only so much of anything you want to know," concludes Calvin Trillin in "Comments from a Modest Man," a thoughtful and entertaining interview conducted by Jonathan D'Amore. That sums up the whole of this very worthwhile issue of The Carolina Quarterly — it's modest, but self assured, unassuming, but powerful. The fiction is particularly strong.
  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date January 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Consequence is a new literary magazine focusing on the culture of war in the twenty-first century,” writes editor George Kovach. While this first issue includes some previously published work, future issues will feature new writing by “witnesses and survivors, soldiers, scholars and writers compelled to speak the truth about war.” The inaugural issue includes the work of fifteen poets, an essay, two interviews (one with poet Brian Turner and one with “an Army wife and mother”), a memoir, and three visual artists, one of whom, Viet Le, also contributes several poems.
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This issue of Colorado Review includes many writers whose names are, deservedly, quite familiar, among them: Hadara Bar-Nadav, Peter Gizzi, Donald Morrill, Cole Swensen, There are many who have published widely and may soon be as well known as the others I’ve mentioned, among them: Andrew Joron, Stacy Kidd, Wayne Miller, Jacqueline Lyons, Ange Mlinko. And there are others with new books or books about to be published that I am eager to read, based on their contributions to this issue, among them: Robin Black,Ellen Wehle, Jennifer Moxley, Andrew Zawacki. What these writers share is an original eye and an original ear, which is to say, that in many ways, they are as different from each other as they could be.
  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This issue of Calyx is presented beautifully, and its premise has more beauty still. Composed, as they tell you, of women’s art and literature alone, it breathes a carefully balanced delicacy. Perhaps it is because I am a woman, but I found every piece within Calyx’s covers to be somehow special.
  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
As a beginning instructor, I invested a few days reading into College Literature, and I cannot say I regretted one second.
  • Issue Number Volume 57 Number 1
  • Published Date January 2005
The Carolina Quarterly has great short fiction going for it; I expect to remember at least four of the seven stories here long after I've put this issue on the shelf. I was most impressed by Jean Colgan Gould's "The Queen of October," in which a woman on the verge of 70 shoots hoops in her driveway. She's recently had a showdown with neighbors who didn't appreciate the basketball noise and suggested she ought to do everyone a favor and move out of her big, empty house, sparking her anger and a determination not to be forced to while away the rest of her days in "a nice condo." Excellent!
  • Issue Number Issue 12
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Copper Nickel 12 isn’t a theme issue, but a theme of sorts emerges nonetheless, or at least an organizing principle that is highly appealing and largely successful – how do we relate to the things, the stuff, the variety and quantity of forms and objects around us, human and non-human. It begins with the gloriously evocative cover photograph by Chris Morris from his series “Forgotten History.” Six additional photos in the series appear in the issue, along with the photographer’s remarks. The photos document abandoned homesteads in the area where Morris grew up, and capture the decay (which he does beautifully) and the photographer’s sense of “personal connection” to these “spaces.” Each is a vast landscape of what is missing and yet still exists, highlighted by an outdated or antiquated object (the rotary phone on the magazine’s cover).
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  • Issue Number Volume 55 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This is a terrific issue of the Chicago Review featuring new translations of work by Stephane Mallarmé by Peter Manson, a long poem by British poet Simon Jarvis, a wonderful essay by poet and critic Stephen Burt on the usefulness and uses (read: need) for non-academic literary criticism and reviews (like this one!), three fine pieces of nonfiction writing (not a personal essay among them), a number of worthwhile poems, book reviews, and three solid short stories.
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  • Issue Number Volume 9
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I was considering giving up this reviewing gig, finding myself a bit weary having written several hundred mag reviews over the last few years. But then this issue of Center landed in my lap and I shudder to think at what I would miss! With its “Symposium: Place in Nonfiction,” this is one terrific issue. One personal essay on a place of sorts (gardens) and 10 short essays for the Symposium, are accompanied by the work of 20 poets (in which, unannounced as part of the place focus, place figures largely in nearly every one), three stories (place again in every one!), and a very, very good “conversation” with Croatian poet Tomaz Salamun, an interview of greater depth than many I’ve encountered that focus narrowly on writing techniques and related topics of limited interest.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Appalachian State University’s Department of English publishes Cold Mountain Review. The western North Carolina institution is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the town of Boone, and, yes, the town was named after Daniel Boone. His pioneering and exploratory spirit persists in the editorial stance of Cold Mountain Review, which is “interested in the way contemporary literature is testing the boundaries of genre” and “features work intended to transport the reader to unexpected landscapes—emotional terrains that are sometimes joyful, occasionally disconcerting, always interesting.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Before reading Chtenia: Readings from Russia, my only experience with Russian literature was in college, where I read Chekov’s “The Lady with the Dog” and Gogol’s “The Overcoat.” I fell in love with these stories and realized that I needed more Russians in my life. Chtenia satisfies with its wonderful selection of fiction, poetry, and essays from Russian authors both past and present. The winter 2013 issue is a special treat because it is dedicated to all things dark and scary in Russian literature. Senior Editor Tamara Eidelman writes:
"High quality" and "serious intent" is what CutBank seeks, say the journal's guidelines.
  • Subtitle Cinema Lingua: Writers Respond to Film
  • Issue Number Number 42
  • Published Date Spring 2004
This ambitious and strikingly effective theme issue in which writers respond to film leaves me with the feeling that I ought to know more about film than I do, though I've always felt that, in comparison to others, I know quite a lot. Several of the pieces here feel as if they were written for those already in the cinema ‘know,’ but each piece is, nonetheless, highly enjoyable.
  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date 2004
Congratulations and gratitude to Columbia College in Chicago for offering a new journal of stunning poetry.
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  • Issue Number Number 51
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Writers for this issue were asked to tackle the subject of “Human Face of Sustainability.” It was a widely interpreted phrase, as proven by the included interview and ten essays. Individual subjects range from cancer-causing carcinogens and their effects on both children and our ecosystem (“Acts of Courage” by Mary Heather Noble), to a bicyclist’s perspective on individual activism (“Trapped” by Sarah Gilbert), to how one of the poorest cities in America is working on changing for the better (“Iyabo is Yoruba for ‘The Mother Has Returned’” by Amy Hassinger).
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  • Issue Number Number 11
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Journals published annually like Columbia College of Chicago’s Court Green find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to capture and sustain a reader’s good will and attention during the long wait between issues. Court Green makes all this look easy, staying fresh in mind on the strength of its lively, unpretentious poetry and the unique artifact its editors create with each issue’s “dossier” on a special theme or topic. This year’s “dossier” on New York School poet James Schuyler, which takes up roughly half of the issue, truly harnesses the unique potential of the format, drawing together poetic homage, letters, photographs, flyers, the reflections of associates and admirers, as well as a small selection of Schuyler’s uncollected poems. This enigmatic bundle paired with over one hundred pages of new poems by an array of established and idiosyncratic poets is sure to demand prime coffee table real estate in perpetuity.
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  • Issue Number Number 26
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
When you read the 2013 issue of Columbia Poetry Review, sink into a comfortable chair without distraction and be willing to spend time with imagery that stimulates and verse that reconsiders how we define poetry and its evolution. If you are like me, you’ll want to read this issue a number of times to return to images that intrigue, disturb, or entice in poems structured and unstructured, evocative of surrealism in its almost purest form.
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  • Issue Number Number 12
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The editor’s note in the latest issue of Cave Wall focuses heavily on the idea of time. The way it shifts all around us in an amorphous cloud, it seems that all we really have to hang onto is the moment right in front of us, to the beauty or pain of each experience as it happens. Memory, growth, and understanding come into play throughout, making for a quick read that’s both relatable and stirring.
  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The best part of Court Green, published annually by Columbia College of Chicago, is always the “Dossier,” featuring a special topic or theme. And this year’s, “Letters,” is my favorite so far. Whatever the reason – because letter-writing is, in its essence, about the printed word; or because so many of us have some things we can imagine saying to so many people; or because people who love to write and are, by profession, proficient at it, are also, naturally, great letter-writers – these “letter poems” make for extremely inventive and entertaining reading.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
On its website, The Coffin Factory states that it “serves as a nexus between readers, writers, and the book publishing industry," with a mission to "provide great literature and art to people who love books, including those who do not usually read literary magazines.” It strikes me that the debut issue upholds this mission.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Although unique is almost a clichéd word, one cannot but apply it to Conveyer. Conveyer is a literary journal, which, according to its title page, is in the business of “articulating and documenting Jersey City’s sense of place though image making and storytelling.” This second issue of the journal fulfills this purpose in a variety of ways. The first section is hand-drawn grid maps with accompanying pictures and anecdotal commentary. The comments are both quirky and informational and give an insider’s sense of place in specific neighborhoods.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Inspired by owner and chef Dennis Leary’s Canteen restaurant in San Francisco, which has hosted a number of “literary dinners,” “Canteen aims to engage readers with both the arts and the creative process,” say publisher Stephen Pierson and editor-in-chief Sean Finney. A prominent example of this intent is the poem “Song” and its accompanying close reading and reflective essay by Julie Orringer and Ryan Harty. I knew that it was only a matter of time before the words from the Magnetic Poetry Kit jumped off refrigerator doors and other metal surfaces to land – where? Here? In analyzing their process of cutting and sticking these dozen lines and photographing them, Orringer and Harty demonstrate and evaluate one experience of this gimmick’s effect on word choice and syntax. I’ve played this “poetry game” in several languages, but never have I believed that the restrictions it imposes are worthy of serious effort. Now I know why. Conversely, Katie Ford’s poem “The Vessel Bends the Water” deserves the reader’s attention for its pure beauty and, I think, perfect slipperiness.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Loras College, the Catholic liberal arts college in Dubuque, Iowa, has inaugurated what I think is long overdue and should be welcomed with huzzahs from East to West: Catfish Creek, a literary journal “intended as a showcase for undergraduate writers from across the country and around the world.” O ye scads of undergraduate creative writing majors, minors, and hopefuls, and all those who teach and mentor said scads, should unite in praise of the concept—and the execution. Demonstrating the variety and depth of which undergrads are capable, this is a very fine first volume. May there be many more!
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  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
You certainly don’t have to be a woman to enjoy the enticing lines found in CALYX. For thirty-five years, CALYX has been bringing women’s voices to life within their pages. The summer 2011 issue is a compact collection of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, art, and book reviews. The writing is smart, remarks witty, and images powerful. In this issue, the reader will encounter a goddess cleaning out her purse, an aging couple who have lost both memory and close friends, and witness the destruction of cancer. Calyx features work from writers that is so poignant and striking, you will be thinking about their words for days.
  • Subtitle A literary journal devoted to women's sexuality
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  • Issue Number Volume 27
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
If discussion of female genitalia makes you uncomfortable, this may not be the journal for you. But if you understand and appreciate that women’s sexuality is natural, then read on.
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  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
From the rugged state of Montana comes Camas, a unique literary journal that focuses on environmental and cultural issues in the American West. Their winter 2012 issue features essays, fiction, and poetry revolving around work, but they’re not talking about white collar jobs here, folks. This issue is dedicated to the men and women who perform manual labor found in the rural parts of the United States. It celebrates, questions, and examines all aspects of this form of work, whether good or bad, legal or illegal.
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  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Through this riveting inaugural volume of China Grove, an editorial team rooted in Mississippi unveils the identity of the last of the great Southern literati, Mark Twain’s intellectual property battles, and love stories real and apocryphal, in one polished collection.
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  • Issue Number Volume 63 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Because of its length (about 133 pages), this issue of The Carolina Quarterly relies heavily on the strength of each of its components. Every sentence must move its alphabetical weight, more so than in one of those torrentially heavy volumes that seek to delight and have enough statistical room to dare to dismay—this collection is systematically frank and urgent.
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  • Issue Number Number 24
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Re-reading through Columbia Poetry Review (read first for the pure pleasure of reading, and second for reviewing), I noticed that I had dog-eared a third of the pages of the journal. Why have I marked all of these poems? I wondered. Were they all really that good?
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  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Come for the literary fiction and enjoy some fine photography while you're here. This issue is worth the cover price just for Adam Peterson's award winning story “It Goes Without Saying.” The story follows a travel writer as he navigates a personal crisis while attending a conference abroad where he is the guest of honor. Peterson incorporates apothegms of travel wisdom, without pretension, and avoids the pitfall of didactic lecturing while incorporating just the right amount of comic relief: “The world went on around him, he just wasn't home to watch it. This was another mistruth of travel writing. The distance one felt when getting away was an illusion. Everything, including the traveler, fell hopelessly forward.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 184
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The hallmark virtues of this issue of Cimarron Review are polished works that are immediately accessible yet amply reward closer inspection.
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  • Issue Number Volume 62 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Families in various stages of self-destruction or survival are a connecting thread for most of the prose in this issue of Carolina Quarterly. Fiction and memoir today are rife with stories about the unsettled, uncommitted young, so it’s refreshing to read strong writing about people who have tried to firm up some ground beneath their feet—even if the effort sometimes fails catastrophically.
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Now in its eighth issue, Canteen is a journal that “admires what writers and artists do” and wants “insight into how and why it’s done.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
CALYX, a literary journal dedicated to celebrating women’s voices, never fails to delight. The expanded summer issue of 2012, with its collection of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, art, and book reviews, is by turns lyrical and raw, whimsical and powerful. We read about mothers, sisters, wives, and best friends in witty and imaginative language, glimpses into other lives that live on in the imagination long after the last page has been turned.
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  • Issue Number Issue 39
  • Published Date January - March 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This ezine describes its work as “treatments of light and shade in words.” The website is dark and ominous and each quarter only three or four poems and stories appear for consumption. The editors are quite selective and have a particular style they are looking for. They also pay well: seven cents a word for a short story, which translates into $210.00 for a three thousand word narrative – a nice sum in today’s market!
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If you've had it with glamour and cuteness in your literary diet, turn to The Chaffin Journal for the antidote. Formerly known as Scripsit, this journal from Eastern Kentucky University is all meat and potatoes. The writing frequently dwells on quotidian themes in rural and small-town locales. That means The Chaffin Journal opts for straight story and verse over risk taking. Overall, the performance is uneven, but sometimes, the lumps in the landscape provide solid, memorable art.
Kary Wayson: you have uncountable volumes of love in store from all who read your poetry.
I have such a crush on this literary magazine that it’s not even funny. Two years ago, literally their spring 2002 issue, had a poem by Jennifer Boyden, a poem I fell in love with, and subsequently fell in love with the magazine, and since have read it, oh, quarterly basically (skipped one). I can’t say that each time I’ve found another Jennifer Boyden (seriously: as good as Waldrep, D. Young, OK Davis, Matthea Harvey, you name it), but each time I’ve found poems and fiction to gladly pass time with. This time, of course, is no different: Charles Harper Webb, Dean Kostos, Katherine Riegel, Lauren Goodwin, for example. In the best possible way, this magazine is like the Volvo of lit mags: imagine, literally wrap your head around, 147 issues (that’s, what...37 years?
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  • Issue Number Number 23
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Household names – in households that read poetry, of course – include Alice Notley, Simone Muench, Jan Beatty, David Dodd Lee, and Alan Michael Parker. Forces to be reckoned with include Michael Robins, James Shea, Dora Malech, Daniel Borzutsky, Anne Boyer, Suzanne Buffam, and Mathias Svalina. Up-and-coming poets include Kristin Ravel, Sarah Elliott, Sandra Lim, and K. Silem Mohammad, among others.
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  • Issue Number Issue 171
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue is dedicated to Ai (1947-2010) as signaled by one page with only her name and dates centered in large type. I was impressed by this eloquent and elegant tribute to a poet whose powerful work is more richly and appropriately honored by this understated memorial than any long-winded remarks would be.
  • Issue Number Number 38
  • Published Date May 2004
Cairn: from the Scottish, a pile of stones meant as a monument or landmark. Also an exceptional literary magazine out of St. Andrews Presbyterian College. Kevin Frazier’s haunting story “The Magic Forest,” the tale of a lonely child who, on the spur of the moment, absconds with an infant “being aired” in the yard, considers the law of unintended consequences in a (disturbingly undermined) fairy tale setting.
This journal out of New Hampshire features work from both familiar and unfamiliar names. While the aesthetic leans towards a free-verse, relaxed sort of poetry, nothing here tries too hard, and you will occasionally find seemingly effortless, beautiful feats, like these lines from “Susann” by Cecil L. Sayre:
  • Subtitle A Journal of Art and Literature by Women
  • Issue Number Volume 21 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2003
This issue of Calyx showcases art, poetry, and prose pieces that describe women overcoming adversity and celebrating their individuality. Susan Brown’s acrylic “Monument to New York City,” which uses intricate bird-symbols to communicate her feelings about September 11, was intelligent and moving, truly a visual poem. Equally moving was Smoky Trudeau’s short fiction, “Good-Bye, Emily Dickinson” about a homeless woman who is convinced that she is Emily Dickinson’s daughter. I enjoyed the lyrical images of bats in “I Watch Nature While Breastfeeding” by Melissa Crowe:
  • Issue Number Volume 9
  • Published Date Winter 2003
In his Editor’s Notes, Gerry LeFemina, who here edits his last edition of Controlled Burn, admits his preference for poetry.
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of College Literature is devoted to essays that examine the intersection between law and literature. The essays make the case that the law often influences literature, but more importantly, that literature can effect change in the law.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Chagrin River Review, now in its third issue, publishes fiction and poetry, leaning toward the more traditional styles, nothing extremely experimental or flashy, just good writing.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Compose has a wide variety of writing to enjoy from fiction, to nonfiction, to poetry, to a couple of features. The artists conjure up images of a widow-bearing tequila bottle that sits on the kitchen table, mermaids that “swim the high school pool,” mussels and clams and a bonfire, “Lint from your best-loved old jumper / sprinkled with grains from your childhood / sandbox,” and 26 tea lights in memory of those lost in the Sandy Hook shooting.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This hefty issue of Carpe Articulum begins with an account of David Hoffman’s Pulitzer Prize winning nonfiction book, The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, from the author, himself a writer for the Washington Post, and an interviewer. There are so many secrets detailed in this issue that one can imagine just how explosive the book itself is. As Ted Hoffman relates, both from the book and from his interviewee,
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  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In his Editor’s Note, Rhett Trull explains that, while she has “learned the patience, struggle and mercy of a body as it heals,” she recognizes—in the dying of Pita, her 20-year-old cat—that “one day” we will “reach a point past healing.” As a result, “My appreciation for each moment,” she says, has been “reinforced” by the poems she helped select for this issue. The poems, lyric and narrative, feature speakers whose distance from the poets seems slight.
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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Colorado Review has found the sweet spot, with material accessible enough to be enjoyed and edgy enough to shake you up. Terry Shuck’s wrap-around cover photograph sets the tone, with idyllic clouds and leafy trees above a dry swimming pool, patched and smeared with shades of ocher, aqua, and green. The empty pool has an eerie look. Are those clouds and trees really all that idyllic? The image makes you look twice.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Now ten years old, The Cincinnati Review has established a reputation as one of the top literary journals in the Midwest. This issue, which includes work by writers such as Porter Shreve, Daniel Anderson, Erin Belieu and Michael Mlekoday, holds up to the journal’s reputation. The issue includes a hefty mix of fiction, poetry, artwork, nonfiction, and reviews, with formal and aesthetic diversity showcased in all categories.
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  • Issue Number Volume 18
  • Published Date October 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Copper Nickel states on the submission page that the journal publishes no more than 2% of the submissions it receives. After careful study of its October edition, I can easily perceive the appeal: the value proposition of this particular journal exceeds the usual draws—presentation, print and polish. The journal is intelligent in a bold way, showcasing surrealist efforts in at least three of the prose included, and I cage the statistic in “at least,” because the classification “surreal” has been thoroughly extended by popular vernacular: sometimes an exotic dragon making a holographic appearance truly tests the limits of the term. (See Leslie Rakowicz’s short story “Celia,” for an illustration of same.)
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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Subtitled “The War and Peace Issue,” this offering considers the stated themes from a wide range of situations and viewpoints. Aside from an introductory editor’s note, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is given the first word. In an address given in Chautauqua, New York, Roosevelt lamented that he had seen “the dead in the mud” and “cities destroyed” and declared how much he hated war. Unfortunately, the nature of war is such that the same man was forced to wage one several years later.
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  • Issue Number Volume 5
  • Published Date Autumnal 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Camera Obscura is a journal devoted to both prose and photography. This issue contains eight stories and twenty-seven photographs.
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  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Ask anyone here at NewPages, or anyone really who knows me, and they’ll tell you I can’t pass up anything cat-related that catches my eye. Anthony Santulli’s “Sorry for Your Loss,” though not necessarily sentimental, came to me only a day after my mother’s cat was put to sleep. Only a paragraph long, this short piece of nonfiction holds symbolism, even as the four of them “crawl up the stairs on all fours.” He writes, “What is it you’re holding on to? Is it the ninefold freedom of springtime shedding and arched backs, of sandpaper tongues and their baths?” Perfectly compact, and wonderfully cat-like.
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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Big names (Rae Armantrout, David Lehman, Alice Notley, Amy Gerstler, Sherman Alexie, Lyn Lifshin, Elaine Equi, Denise Levertov). Pretty big names (D.A. Powell, Jeanine Hall Gailey, Hadara Bar-Nadav, Matthew Thorburn, Amy Newman, Catherine Pierce, Adrian Blevins). Names to watch for (Kate Thorpe, Carly Sachs). And lots of ideas, big, pretty big, and worth listening for. This issue of Court Green offers exactly what we have come to expect of this provocative annual, including its entertaining Dossier, which this time focuses on the 1970’s.
  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
A semi-annual from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, Cold Mountain Review features writers with substantial and impressive publication credits and accolades, but who are still, in many cases, at “emerging” stages (few, if any, books published). The work tends to favor people/characters/personalities over ideas or philosophies, including many family stories and profiles of individuals. This issue includes the work of two-dozen poets, three fiction writers, and one essayist.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Vibrantly produced, engaging, and fascinating for the sheer range of styles and tones in both the photography (amateur and professional) and literary selections, Camera Obscura must be terribly expensive to print – and the cover price of $18 suggests this is so. On the other hand, it’s less expensive than admission to many museums ($20 these days to get into MOMA), the magazine presents museum quality work, and you don’t have to wait in line for a ticket or battle the crowds in the galleries.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Conclave is a journal that revolves around strong characters in poetry and fiction, so don’t let the lady on the cover of the latest issue scare you away. Think of her as a concierge waiting to show you to your room. But this isn’t your typical hotel. Here you will rub shoulders with guests from out of space and time. Some of these guests are (or were) real people staying for the night while others come from the imaginations of talented writers.
  • Issue Number Number 53
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
There are so many stars in this issue one almost needs sunglasses to get through the Table of Contents. Reading the work, one sees that these bright names (Francine Prose, William H. Gass, Peter Gizzi, Maureen Howard, Cole Swensen, Nathaniel Mackey, Ann Lauterbach, Rachel Plau DuPlessis) deserve their shiny reputations. Some of their work conforms to the issue’s theme, “Not Even Past: Hybrid Histories,” described by editor Bradford Morrow as “works in which past moments in history play a centralizing role.” Other work is categorized simply as “new.”
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Great short fiction exists! This issue of Colorado Review confirms it. Volume 36, Number 3 features three extremely good short stories, including the magazine’s annual Nelligan Prize winner, Angela Mitchell, whose first-ever published story, “Animal Lovers,” is both unpredictable and reasonable, by which I mean credible, realistic, and emotionally compelling. Mitchell has an ear for natural and believable dialogue, a great sense of timing, and casual, but carefully composed prose that is readable, but not incidental.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
There are lots of reasons to read this issue, but here’s what you won’t want to miss: poet Khaled Mattawa, author of four books of poems (one forthcoming from New Issues Press) introduces and translates the poems of Jordanian poet Amjad Nasser (now based in London). The translations are lovely, fluid, authentic, and credible. Nasser’s poems are marvelous, deceptively simple and incredibly powerful in a subtle and lyrical way, as in this excerpt from “Once Upon an Evening in a Café”:
  • Issue Number Volume 4 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2007
Prose poetry is a genre I was introduced to a year ago when reading poetry by James Galvin. His poems intrigued me and forced me to ask what the definition of prose poetry really is. The guest editor of CUE’s thin volume (the entire journal can fit snugly into the pocket of my fall coat), Jason Zuzga, defines it as being the “self in process […] in prose proper […] something like Montaigne thinking on the page in an essay.” His words are an apt description for the prose poetry in this volume. On an initial glance at the form of these seventeen poems, some look like carefully placed lines of free verse and others appear almost as stream of consciousness paragraphs. On further inspection, all contain writers’ detailed observations – though maybe not quite as astute as Montaigne’s – on the visible universe that enlightens the invisible thoughts and emotions.
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Annual
There are many magazines that claim to be eclectic, but The Canary is one of the few I’ve read that is truly deserving of the title. A five page free-form poem might be followed by a rhymed couplet, which might be followed by a narrative driven prose-poem. If it is going on in modern poetry, you can probably find it represented here. This all-poetry magazine has no art, non-fiction or even an editor’s introduction.
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  • Issue Number Volume 5
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
As George Kovach points out in his editor’s note, “the standard definition of war, one society imposing its will on another by militant force, fails the test for full disclosure.” Consequence Magazine adeptly fills the many gaps left open by such a clinical conception of what war really means to those who endure it, soldier and civilian alike. The issue offers a wide range of literature that both forces and invites the reader to confront some of mankind’s more unpleasant tendencies.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The cover of this issue of Carve Magazine depicts a fractured two-story home engulfed in flames, and the image is appropriate for at least two reasons. The journal’s title and its ethos are inspired by the works of Raymond Carver, who certainly knew how to depict households in disarray. Further, the stories in this issue each relate to some kind of disaster, whether natural or personal.
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  • Issue Number Volume 25
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“No one can embrace the unembraceable,” the editors of Chtenia commented on the task of reading for this issue, “Storied Moscow.” Indeed, Moscow evokes a rush of impressions like no other city: six-month winters, intrigue, people from Tashkent and Minsk rubbing elbows and trading blows, the center of violence, dreams, disappointments, and majesty for so many. I’m willing to bet that the Stolichnaya (“of the capital”) brand of vodka wouldn’t ring with the same aplomb if it were associated with, say, Washington, D.C. or Ottawa. The editors have done an admirable job of going beyond the familiar, however; the pieces in the issue range from historical records to writers who are hardly known outside Russia, to the lesser-known works of famous writers as well as snippets of Pushkin and Okudzhava in a new spotlight. The quirky volume makes me feel as if I’d just stumbled into a dusty section of the library, opened a worn hardcover that hadn’t been checked out since 1957, and discovered a treasure trove.
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  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The mission and vision of Cruel Garters is “to publish both well-established and newer voices in a small, stripped-down publication that minimizes literary trappings and focuses on the work itself.” They state they prefer “the short, lyrical, and odd but are most interested in work with its own voice and aesthetic.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Loras College, which publishes the national undergraduate literary journal Catfish Creek, sits near the banks of the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa. The contributors hail from colleges across the country, but it is through Loras, which is serving as a kind of modern-day Paris in uniting these writers, that we see their work collected and their spirits compiled.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 3
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Color is what first struck me with Catamaran Literary Reader. A quick flip through the pages reveals not only the abundance of visual artwork, but also the vibrancy of their colors and movement. The cover is “Jump #5,” one oil painting among four in the issue by Sarah Bianco which depicts several people in different stages of a leap downward against a background of yellow, blue, and red. It’s hard to tell where they will land. I want to guess that the cover was chosen to match Catamaran’s emphasis on the “California regional themes of environmentalism, personal freedom, innovation, and artistic spirit.” For ages, people have come to California to live their dreams. For many, the move must have felt like a leap into a beautiful unknown.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
According to Wikipedia, Professor Matthew Strecher defines magic realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.” The article goes on to say that “magical realist texts create a reality ‘in which the relation between incidents, characters, and setting could not be based upon or justified by their status within the physical world or their normal acceptance by bourgeois mentality.’” Who wants to think of themselves as having a bourgeois mentality, accepting things as “normal” and thereby obstructing magical realism? Not me. This issue of A Cappella Zoo—entitled “Bestiary” because, I assume, it’s the best of the first demi-decade of this labor-of-love journal of magical realism of all kinds—completely dismantles whatever bourgeois mentality I, or you, may be harboring. It will charm you, in every sense of the word.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Sarah Legow's cover art for the latest 245 page volume of Cream City Review depicts ordinary objects inside eggshells. One shell holds sand. Another holds fur. Others hold clock gears, cigarette butts, shells, and twine. It's oddly perfect for the issue, as Cream City is crammed with strange, good pieces that give magic-realistic tinges to ordinary and gritty subjects.
Devoted to the theme “Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives,” this issue proves editor Lee Gutkind’s premise that “less literary” topics also lend themselves to artful writing as well as the detailed reporting associated with journalism. I agree wholeheartedly. In these essays, the authors recount their often frustrating – sometimes edifying – experiences with the health care system using a variety of narrative styles and tones, but all of a very high caliber. The authors treat such varied topics as blindness, overmedication, kidney dialysis, hepatitis, a gastrointestinal disorder; and all of the authors slip in enough medical information so that non-specialists can easily understand. Yet the overarching topic is communication – or lack thereof – and the implications this process has on the quality of patient care.
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Siblinghood – an intriguing theme. In this issue of Cream City Review, I liked how the theme of siblinghood was always present, but not necessarily the focus. Often, the sibling relation adds a dimension to the main story (such as in the wonderful “Flashlights” by Zach Bean, which is a love story first and a brothers story second) or is observed from afar by an “outsider” (e.g. “Skin,” by Theresa Milbrodt, where a mother observes her daughters, one struggling with the same skin condition as her mom, the other healthy). In Yannick Murphy's delightful “Unreal Blue,” the issue of siblinghood is almost coincidental: this is a family story. But other stories put the focus right on the narrator's feeling for a brother or sister. Perhaps not surprisingly, these stories are often raw and painful, e.g. Kelly Spitzer's “Inside Out Of You,” which is both accusation and praise of the narrator's unstable sister, or Benjamin Percy's sinister, almost gothic “The Whisper.”
  • Issue Number Number 49
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
An issue of Conjunctions would be a double or triple issue for almost any other literary magazine. Even the word "magazine" doesn’t seem quite accurate. An issue of Conjunctions is a book. That said, this one actually is a double issue. The first half is titled “A Writers’ Aviary: Reflections on Birds” and the latter half is a “Special Portfolio: John Ashbery Tribute.”
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It’s to the credit of the editorial staff at The Cincinnati Review that the winter 2007 issue cannot be easily classified. The range of voices is as wide as the experience of the contributors.
  • Issue Number Issue 157
  • Published Date Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Just about to enter its fortieth year, Cimarron Review does not appear to be suffering from a midlife crisis—no new bells and whistles, just poetry, fiction, and essays. As usual, Cimarron Review excels with their selection of poetry. Emily Fragos delivers two devastating poems, “19 Chopin Waltzes” with its accusatory lines, “All the begetting: the weak limbs and soft bellies, / the faces elongated like the devil himself,” and “Insomnia” whose ending is one long shiver, “Even the chained lie down in the dark; / Soldiers, sick of shoveling muck and trench, dream of resting / Beneath blankets of snow.
  • Issue Number Issue 158
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
After finishing the final piece “Punched” by Steven Cordova in the Cimarron Review, I was left with the line, "You were punched." Indeed, I was. With each piece I was smacked in the face with a story and a perfect picture, like a movie reel with words streaming by at an almost overwhelming pace, leaving me breathless. The selection of poetry is inarguably strong. For example, “Nocturne,” by Nate Pritts, is based on the simple concept of night, in which he envelopes the feeling, letting each aspect out in short detailed descriptions such as, "Tiger lilies outside my window beat slow time // against the screen, six-petaled heads bobbing / burnt orange, mute tongues curling & streaked // like the sky..." “Aunt Catherine” by Yvonne Higgins Leach also shined, showing a sign of hope for a woman who only had time for herself when she was in the water.
  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Talib Kweli sums up this issue in the final interview/article when he advises, “Make sure that you acknowledge, at all times, your history, your ancestors, where you come from and what you are responsible for, what people have done, how people fought, struggled, and died to get you to where you are.” Each and every engaging and diverse perspective in Callaloo’s issue on “Hip Hop and Culture” clearly sounds off on the importance of the roots of the culture, which entails those directly and indirectly involved in the music and culture. The authors manage to establish the importance of hip hop culture’s history through a variety of interviews, photos, poetry, and articles, not to mention the great front and back cover artwork. There’s nothing like seeing a respectable journal’s title in graffiti topped equally with city and island skylines, a meeting of the urban and the earth. The roots of hip hop and its culture also find an unexpected icon in Curtis Crisler’s poem, “Elegy for Mister Rogers: In memory of Fred Rogers,” which served “as a backbeat, before Run/DMC, Eric B. and Rakim, Tupac and Biggie.” Again the dominant theme for each poet in this issue is the importance and relevance of personal and cultural history in hip-hop. Regarding the critical articles, I found Wayne Marshall’s work on sampling’s relevance in hip-hop and Ed Pavlic’s exploration of the relationship between the DJ and audience the two most captivating pieces of criticism.
  • Issue Number Number 5
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Court Green is a natty-looking 220 plus page paperback-sized journal with a pink plaid cover and a world of poetry inside. The first section contains absolute jewels, nothing off-the-wall or experimental, just good poems, a variety to pique every interest. For example, the whimsical “Sexy” by Jack Anderson: “The train stops and people leave – how sexy. / New people step in; they’re sexy, too. / That’s how it goes as stations pass: sexy.” It’s fun and sassy and everything summer should be, subway or no. In contrast to “Sexy,” Kevin Carollo’s “Do I Have a Doctor’s Note?” decries school violence by having a youth pose questions: “I didn’t make it / to the audition? / Because I still / had to learn / how to kiss fire?” He hooks the reader effectively with the tragedy and the greater question “Why?”
  • Issue Number Volume 7
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Center is 200 plus pages of what you would expect from a quality literary journal – poems, short stories, autobiographical essays, and an interview. It also contains the not-so-usual, “Symposium on the Line: Theory and Practice in Contemporary Poetry.” Lines, even more, line breaks, are discussed imaginatively by distinguished poets.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Created as a result of the one-time issue of the same name by the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, Cadillac Cicatrix offers a diverse range of poetry, nonfiction, prose, art, criticism and video. Leaving so much literary food on the readers’ plates, they will be forced to ingest its offerings one course at a time.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1/2
  • Published Date February 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Cleaver Magazine starts the hype about their brand new publication with a preview issue, all focused on “flash.” This gives you a hint of the magazine’s style in short bites. But it doesn’t just include flash fiction; there are also micro essays, short poems, and even a section called “tiny art”—where Blake Martin writes about Instagram and self-portraits.
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  • Issue Number Issue 42
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
While Cellar Roots is only open to submissions for students at Eastern Michigan University (where the publication is published from), if you are looking for something good to read and scouting for up-and-coming writers, it’s definitely worth the read. Filled with art, poetry, and prose, the issue is brimming with words to read and images to view.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In his editor’s Note, Deputy Editor-in-Chief Jonathan C. Stalling explains that part of the publication’s mission is to offer “to non-experts a multifaceted portal into contemporary China through literature and literary studies.” To do this, he refers readers to the issue’s featured scholar, Yue Daiyun, whose work in comparative literature has led to the conclusion that the traditions of the West and those of China (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) no longer exist independently of the other. Indeed, as Stalling explains, Yue’s vision is one in which comparative literature is preparation for “an era of global multicultural coexistence.”
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  • Issue Number Number 11
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published twice a year, Cave Wall is dedicated to publishing the best contemporary poetry it can get its hands on. This family-run magazine is based out of Greensboro, North Carolina. I was fortunate enough to attend a reading where Editor Rhett Iseman Trull read her own poetry and participated in a Q & A. She was down to earth and intriguing, just like this edition of Cave Wall. The issue includes black and white art by Dan Rhett that compliments the poetry very well.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Here is a journal that truly is of consequence—poetry, nonfiction prose, fiction, artwork, memoir, and a “discourse,” all by accomplished writers writing about subjects that matter. There isn’t a contribution that doesn’t warrant attention, but it would take me longer than the US has been at war in Afghanistan to describe and critique every piece in the issue, so I’ll preface my brief review with this disclaimer: the selections I’ve chosen to highlight here are not the only ones worth your time or $10 of your disposable income, if, indeed, you have any. If you don’t and you’re lucky enough to live in a community where the public or university libraries offer literary journals, do ask them to subscribe to Consequence.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The cover of the 2010 poetry issue of Coe Review features a striking photo shot from inside a shed, peering out through two square openings onto lush green farm fields as far as the eye can see. It seems appropriate to the content within these pages, as each poem carves out its own unique opening through which to view the world.
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  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
With its generous letter-sized pages alone, Camas evokes the open space of the West. This winter issue includes stunning outdoor black-and-white photography, much of it full page, by David Estrada, Doug Davis, Doug Connelly, and others. Between these images is woven a collection of poetry and essays celebrating the many facets of nature and how we humans interact with it.
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
“This is how it ends.” That’s the first line of a poem by Jess Wigent. Could there be a more wonderful beginning? I love it. I don’t necessarily understand it, but I love it. That’s my overall assessment of the issue—weird endings and beginnings I find compelling and exciting and often perfect, even though I don’t necessarily always understand them or believe I can explain them or even know what genre I’m reading. Wigent’s piece, “This One Thing Truly Makes,” is a marvelous prose poem/story with visual complements of post-it-note/memo style fragments. It’s the idea itself of “what truly makes” that makes the journal appealing, the search for essential meaning.
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  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brenda Mann Hammack’s poem “Little Hermit Sphinx” exemplifies this journal’s approach, strengths, and unique contribution to contemporary letters. The poem begins: “strings moon moths on thread. So much gauzier than horse-flies, / but not so illicit as eagle feathers.” Provocative syntax; risky images; the exuberant fracture of expectations—these are the hallmarks of A Cappella Zoo and Issue 6 is no exception. Here is the opening of short fiction from J.S. Khan, “Someone Must Stop the Bonapartists!”: "Alas, it is upon us: the most dire cataclysm to befall the Earth since the Late Heavy Bombardment—there are too many Napoleons!"
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 4
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“The Jilted Issue: Poems of Love Lost” – I’ll admit I was nervous. In the interview that opens the issue with prolific poet and editor, Ontario native and British Columbia resident Tom Wayman, Wayman surmises that poets are drawn to write about love because poetry is the language of heightened emotion. And love is, certainly, one of life’s “main sources of heightened emotion.” Frankly, my anxiety was heightened from the get-go as I envisioned a volume of overwrought, or worse sentimental, verse. But this is, after all, Contemporary Verse 2, and I need not have worried! These are wonderful poems, surprisingly unpredictable in language, if not emotion, with contributions from widely published poets and poetry editors (Tom Wayman, Rocco di Giacomo, Susan McCaslin, Jenna Butler) as well as writers whose poetry may be less well known, but whose work is no less worthy (Kelli Russell Agodon, Robert Banks Foster). The issue also includes winners of the 2007 Lina Chartrand Poetry Award, Aldona Dzieziejko and Elsabeth de Marialfi.
  • Issue Number Volume 4 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Cincinnati Review has, in its five years of existence, built a reputation as an outstanding, and beautifully produced, literary magazine. Each issue includes a full-color portfolio of a contemporary artist’s work, as well as three writers’ reviews of a single book, allowing for dialogue between and among the arts.
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
For those of you familiar with the Chattahoochee Review’s twenty-five year publishing history, this probably won’t come as a big surprise; but for me, a newcomer to the magazine, I knew as soon as I read John Stazinski’s heartbreaking short story “Waiting for a Dog to Run,” that the CR had achieved a level of literary sophistication that far outran the rest. I instantly realized I now had a new standard with which to measure my critiques.
  • Issue Number Volume 24 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
What impressed me the most about this issue of Calyx was how it contained an extraordinary range of voices and styles while still maintaining a high standard of artistic craft that managed to speak to a highly diverse audience. While some of the poems, stories, and artwork in this issue didn’t strike me as “read-again” favorites, there was no question in my mind that they were examples of excellent, above average work.
  • Issue Number Number 22
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Poet Rachel Zucker quotes poet Matt Rohrer in a poem about poems titled “Poem,” which is the first poem in the latest issue of the Columbia Poetry Review:
  • Issue Number Issue 168
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“There’s nothing I won’t do for love,” writes Frank Giampreto in his poem “Self-Portrait in Mirror with Sinus Headache.” But, you’ll surprised at what comes next:
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Conium Review takes its name from a small but significant genus in the plant kingdom. Their delicately detailed leaves and small white flowers give little indication of their danger. Why, one wonders, would the editors name their journal after hemlock? The leaves of the plant contain chemicals that disrupt the victim’s central nervous system. The lethal dose Socrates consumed caused progressive paralysis that eventually prevented him from breathing, depriving his heart and that powerful brain of the oxygen they needed. The fiction and poetry in The Conium Review inspire the same feeling as a mild dose of the drug. No worries; this kind of conium is not deadly. The stories in the journal do not draw the reader in with whiz-bang narratives and cliffhanger plots. Rather, the pieces draw you in with character work that is compelling in a calm manner.
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  • Issue Number Number 23
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Who doesn’t dig the moon? This issue of Conduit is all about that orb out there beyond our atmosphere spinning around our planet while our planet, in turn, spins about the sun. For any lunar fanatic, this issue is a must have item. While non-poetry readers may puzzle over some of the poems in here, everybody is going to be down for the Buzz Aldrin interview—yes, the very same one-time astronaut Buzz Aldrin who touched down on that astro-hunk of lunar wonder. His perspective is counterbalanced by an interview with scholar Evans Lansing Smith titled “The Myth in the Moon.” In addition, a plentiful supply of attractive artwork featuring the moon is scattered throughout these pages, ranging from Warhol’s Moonwalk (1987) (here reclaimed from being used as an infamous ad for MTV) to Caspar David Friedrich’s Two Men Contemplating the Moon (ca. 1830) along with plenty of other art in between, everything from photography to sculpture.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2012
Catch Up’s cover art bucks the usual trend of staid literary journal cover art. This issue features a lurid red, blue, and purple drawing by contributor Max Bode of a menacing figure with its head ringed with dynamite and its gloved hands holding detonators. So, the cover made me think more underground “litzine” or comics anthology than literary journal. However, I found, on the pages within, the work of some very widely published writers. Mixed in with this literary work are a few comics, including a nice series from Box Brown on Andre the Giant’s interactions with various cast members on the set of The Princess Bride, presumably from the comic biography of Andre that Brown is currently working on.
  • Issue Number Number 14
  • Published Date Spring 2004
While it’s tempting for me to enjoy Conduit because we are of the same city, or because I think Conduit does many things tremendously well—among them risk annihilation, use words instead of page numbers, gather incredible poetry—the clearest reason in this latest issue to enjoy it is because of the poem, “My One Paneled Wall,” by Crystal Curry, though ‘enjoy’ is far and away far too weak a verb for this startlingly sharp and perfect poem, and she should, like many other poets within (C.G. Waldrep, Olena Kalytiak Davis, etc.), have whatever choice of beverage she prefers purchased for her.
When you pick up this stylish journal, with its austere yellow cover, you notice its shape–-with longer pages that accommodate lots of white space and long lines. You might expect the poetry inside to be eclectic, experimental, and artistic–-and you wouldn’t be disappointed.
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  • Issue Number Number 8
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Cave Wall’s latest issue invites us, in Robert Bly’s poem “Flowers with Holes,” to “look for / The odd places / In each other / And write poems about them.” The issue begins with an editor’s note that describes the poems in this issue as endeavoring to “embody that quest to communicate what moves us most deeply.” The style of communication varies, from the narrative free verse poem “Kung Pao with You on the Anniversary of Your Suicide” by Elizabeth Volpe which communicates with a deceased friend through the poem, to Sara E. Lamer’s ode to decay, “Compost.”
  • Issue Number Volume 53 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This British Poetry Issue is likely to be enjoyed by those with a strong academic interest in poets of the so-called “Cambridge School.” An introduction by Sam Ladkin and Robin Purves defines this label as a “widely-promulgated apparition” that is “associated with elitism and self-serving obscurantism . . . held to stand for a deliberately inaccessible mode of writing, engorged with critical theory, often held to be 'only about language itself' and written purely for the delectation of a smug coterie of reclusive adepts.”
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  • Issue Number Number 81
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Crazyhorse is full of interesting, off-beat writing, as befits a magazine with the journal’s oversized design.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Clockhouse Review’s best quality is that you don’t know what to expect. You’ll read a traditionally formed story about family dynamics, and then you’ll read a fake academic paper about medieval witches. Weird, but refreshing. Although CR boasts the usual suspects (poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction), it also features some unusual suspects such as graphic narrative and drama. Although it’s awesome to see these forms in literary magazines (more, please), I don’t think I’m the best judge of their quality. Truthfully, I find graphic narratives bizarre; although I can say that the one in this issue (“Stomach Hole” by Mike Mosher) is truly fascinating in its bizarreness.
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  • Issue Number Number 78
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Nimble language and arterial ideas spur this volume of Cutbank, although the thematic diversity and innovative riffs of the journal make any sweeping introduction to the volume impressionistic. The journal veers from the fantastic to the postmodern, crossing the continental (two widely disparate counts of Paris) to the nuclear (stories warbling on familial love and deception.) This issue reflects the editorial organization and voices of many worlds—be it that of a Youngstown Lolita or the fractured narrative of someone seeking the seamless whole after anorexia.
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  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Concho River Review, published by the Department of English and Modern Languages at Angelo State University, presents a strong list of talented writers in this issue. Most of the prose and poetry here revolve around country life or the outdoors, but these are not the unifying themes of this journal. The only connection is solid writing “from Texas and beyond.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 57 Numbers 3/4
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Chicago Review is “an international journal of writing and critical exchange published quarterly.” And they are not falsely advertising; it really is just that. This issue is jam-packed with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and discourse on ecopoetics that takes the reader around the globe in 218 pages. From first page to last, the reader is kept engaged and moving. If anyone is looking for a reference on how to organize and put together a journal, this issue of Chicago Review is it.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 5
  • Published Date May 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’ve never eaten a cactus before, but I hear that it’s very good once you make it past the prickly exterior. Editor Sara Rauch of Cactus Heart magazine explains on their website how literature and art should be like the succulent interior of the desert plant: “It should shock and wound and delight us; it should fill us with delight and terror and mystery. It should survive.” This issue is their first print issue, and it is certainly a delight to read.
  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Located on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, the Chautauqua Writer’s Center celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and its annual review celebrates writers who have contributed to its reputation, success, and creativity with a “moveable feast” in five sections: The Life in Art, Private Lives in Public Life, Our National Life, The Life of the Spirit, and Life Lessons – 360 plus pages of writing by such dependable greats as Dinty Moore, Carl Dennis, Susan Kinsolving, Alan Michael Parker, Ann Pancake, Maura Stanton, Laura Kasischke, Jim Daniels, Robin Becker, Carol Frost, Lee Gutkind, Diane Hume George, and many more.
  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The spring issue of The Chattahoochee Review, a sleekly designed journal from Georgia Perimeter College, offers an excellent selection of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, book reviews, and art—in addition to a special feature on Brazilian poetry. The four outstanding short stories, two by notables William Gay (lauded by some circles as the next Faulkner) and George Singleton, center on down-on-their-luck characters and American domestic life gone awry. The poetry is equally impressive, in particular Chad Prevost’s stunning “Lyric of the Ever-Expanding Universe”: “You thought the dandelions stood / in one place, but come to find out they were / dancing across the wind like tumbleweeds / wheeling without the thought of gravity, / and what you thought was gravity / is only your body’s leaden weight / pinning down your dandelion soul.”
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  • Issue Number Number 8
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The “dossier” section of every issue saves Court Green from falling in with, and being hopelessly lost among, the more run-of-the-mill fair getting churned out among MFA programs. It’s a pretty classy way to get around having “themes” for issues while actually having different themes for each issue, and offers the editors a good chance at a shot of overall cohesion. Once the “dossier” covered Lorine Niedecker, next year it’s going to be “The Short Poem,” but this year it’s Frank O’Hara.
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Two pieces shine brightest in the Summer 2011 issue of the Colorado Review—Diana Wagman's nonfiction piece “Mess” and James O'Brien's fiction piece “The Bones Inside Your Skin.”
  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Being introduced to the literature of a foreign country is like finding a new wing on your favorite library. Every reader should take some time to wander through Chattahoochee Review’s Hungarian Fiction Issue. Work in translation often makes me feel as though I’m reading Ivan Drago’s lines from Rocky IV—clipped, simple phrasing—but the work here is uniformly gorgeous.
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  • Issue Number Number 43
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The 43rd issue of this award-winning publication packs a punch: not just because of the bold graphic of an automatic pistol on its orange cover or its special section on anger and revenge, but because of the high quality of the writing, the fun with 130-character tweets, and the straight-ahead editorial approach. With the confidence attending decades of success, an enviable reputation, and a star-studded editorial advisory board, the publication rewards the reader by delivering on its promise: “True stories, well told.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Cream City Review’s glossy cover design first caught my eye. Alerting readers to this issue’s focus on local events, the cover features an outline of the state of Wisconsin and contains a photograph taken during the 2011 protests against the Budget Repair Bill. Complementing the cover’s theme, an entire section, called “Voices from the Front,” is dedicated to nine creative works that speak to the state’s protests.
  • Subtitle A Literary Rag
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  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
At first glance, Clover has a unique style and appeal. Rather than a typical paperback literary magazine, this rag has a letterpress cover; pea soup green border with plum purple lettering. The cover drew me into the magazine, and I dove in, ready to dig up some kind of treasure. Although the beginning of the magazine is rather bland, it works up momentum to about the middle where it just explodes.
At a time when so many publications are folding or going paperless, here comes Carbon Copy, all bright and bold and glossy. All chock full of art, stories, essays, plays and poetry. All bursting at the seams with Jim Daniels, Denise Duhamel, Charles Harper Webb, and David Trinidad.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2005
Southern California is a nexus of geography and culture, a place where perspectives about the world get reflected through the iridescent sheen of difference.
  • Issue Number Volume 11
  • Published Date Winter 2005
I am occasionally awed and inspired to be reminded of the number of excellent literary journals produced by this country’s community colleges. Controlled Burn comes to us out of Kirtland Community College of Roscommon Michigan, but in design, content, and skillful editorial vision, this publication is easily on a par with our nation’s more celebrated, ivy-league journals.
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  • Issue Number Volume 13 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Carve Magazine’s summer issue invites the reader into three delightful and thoughtful short stories with its cover which features a girl with sea-green hair holding a miniature merry-go-round of horses. The cover, by Alessandra Toninello, “ties [the] stories together in a fitting way,” says the editor’s note. “It’s rare that an issue’s stories and photo come together in such a synchronous way. I can’t help but feel a bit of magic pulled this issue together too.”
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This issue is full of illusions as the characters in the stories break down their misconceptions and face reality—or, instead, continue to live in them. In "The Bathroom window"by Ivan Overmoyer, the narrator imagines a great scene outside the window, only to be disappointed when he/she actually opens it. Ned Randle's "The Amazing Doctor Jones" portrays an old man who hasn't adapted to the new medicine practice but still believes the way he does things is the best. And then Pan Pan Fan literally deals with illusions as the narrator stares at "The Woman in the Mirror
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  • Issue Number Issue 177
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“No easy answers” is the watchword for this issue.
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  • Issue Number Number 78
  • Published Date August 28, 2013
  • Publication Cycle Weekly online
Publishing short issues every week, Crack the Spine puts forth inventive and intriguing pieces. Because the issues come out so frequently, they are short—but packed with great readings.
  • Issue Number Number 75
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The reader is welcomed to this issue of Crazyhorse with the editor’s modest reminder of the stories and poems published by the journal that were selected for the Best American Series, including the Poetry, Short Stories and Nonrequired Reading volumes.
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This summer’s edition to Canteen’s canon is filled to the brim with amusing essays, thought-provoking poems, and a couple of fictional, yet introspective short stories. One such story is Justin Taylor’s “In My Heart I Am Already Gone.” Its protagonist, Kyle, is a cousin of some sort to the family with whom he spends Wednesday nights. His Uncle Danny, in referring to his medically sound, but mentally unhinged cat, says: “This was a long time coming.” He is, of course, talking of rubbing out, or knocking off, the poor, poor Buckles. Danny has asked Kyle to ‘take care of it’. Kyle, as naturally as Holden Caulfield without the sarcasm might, muses that
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
This literary review was founded in 2004 and offers literary reviews, author interviews, essays, and publishing news. They also present articles on a variety of topics including art, science, politics, and history. Basically, there is something here for almost everyone. Below are a few juicy tidbits to be sampled in their pages:
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  • Issue Number Issue 58
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Conjunctions is a slippery, difficult journal, and its current issue, “Riveted: The Obsession Issue,” is no exception. As is par for the course with Conjunctions, the writers appear heavily vested in a particular attention to language, with extremely idiosyncratic patterns and constructs of thought. Although ostensibly clustered around a theme, their writing offers broad interpretations of various obsessions that run the gamut from the expected to the unexpected, the probable to the improbable, the tangible to the intangible.
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  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Since 1956, the Colorado Review has been dedicated to publishing the best in contemporary creative writing from both new and emerging writers, and the Spring 2012 issue is no exception.
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  • Issue Number Volume 56 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The Chicago Review remains one of the best eclectic reviews; its pages are continually full of essential reading. Packed with a consistently broad range of diverse and challenging writing, every issue delivers one surprise or another, and the latest doesn’t disappoint.
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  • Issue Number Issue 81
  • Published Date June 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
Trapped somewhere in between literary fiction and science fiction, Clarkesworld publishes fiction and nonfiction that is either science fiction or fantasy in nature, though I think it’s fair to say that the pieces offer more than just a good adventure.
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  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
While I’ll admit that the three poems from Anne Barngrover are what initially drew me into this issue, there was so much more to keep me there. The whole issue of Contrary is filled with pieces containing delightfully juicy details, taut images, and unique ideas.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Issue 11
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2012-13
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Cerise Press, a well laid-out and professional looking online journal, publishes a variety of fiction, poetry, translations, essays, and art and photography in the latest issue. I started with the fiction, getting lost in the narratives and then dove into the endless (okay, not literally) amounts of poetry.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2005
Twenty-four prose poems and one interview in a handsome, elegant little volume—CUE is a find. In editor Morgan Lucas Schuldt's e-mail interview with award-winning poet Karen Volkman, Volkman writes: "…poetry should make us more conscious of how we think and structure our experiences and sensations, and provide new possibilities."
  • Subtitle A Journal of Literature & Art
  • Issue Number Issue 39
  • Published Date 2004
The interviews (sometimes a dull spot in literary magazines) are a highlight of this issue of Columbia. In Mary Phillips-Sandy’s talk with culture critic Camille Paglia, high priestess of free associaters (think female, literary Robin Williams), Paglia offers an energetic mix of liberal, conservative, and crackpot views—the dead giveaway of an open mind at work. She compares Stephen King to Edgar Allan Poe, to the glory of both; takes a passing whack at Joyce Carol Oates’ prose style (“I can’t believe she just throws that stuff out there!”); and is a great proponent of the Web, for which she began writing “early on,” but admits to composing her first drafts “by hand with a real pen on real paper.”
  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2005
Two engaging personal essays, one by newcomer David Harris-Gershon and the other by award-winning essayist Floyd Skloot land side-by-side and are emblematic of the issue as a whole—expertly crafted work by new and more established writers who know how to link their personal stories or perspective to the larger world. Even work poetry editor Donald Revell labels as an unexpected revision of the confessional mode, Jenny Mueller's "Lyric," reaches beyond the confines of experiment or solipsistic musing to offer a broad, surprising, and accessible world: "The cicada orgasms / sing, cease. A knock and a bruise / is this afternoon, its approaches // by lapses. A blast at the sills: it's the earth, wanting in, heat-zonked / and spoiling, prodigal."
  • Subtitle Poetry in Translation
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Autumn/Winter 2005/2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
What gets translated? is more of a koan than a question. After all, where does meaning hide if not in words themselves? And what happens to meaning when words are transformed into another language? Something remains—but what, exactly? These are the kinds of questions that this small but important journal sets out to explore.
  • Issue Number Issue 154
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
You could sit down and read this issue 100-page issue of the Cimarron Review in a single afternoon, but I wouldn't advise it. The contents of this handsome, deceptively thin journal demand a few long, thought-collecting breaks. The poems and stories here are all packed to bursting with emotion—big, messy, often ugly emotion.
I’ll admit it, at first I was intimidated. It was the periwinkle of the front and back covers that mollified my disease. Thing is, my hands aren’t familiar with the heft of a 125 page journal, especially one comprised entirely of poetry, especially one comprised mainly of long poems. On first flip-through they felled me, hard. A substantial journal dedicated entirely to poetry is a sad rarity these days. The Canary is a necessary and matchless one.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Cincinnati Review is quite possibly one of the most gorgeous journals I’ve ever opened—with lovely cover art by Lynda Lowe, who has a color portfolio inside the magazine.
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  • Issue Number Number 47
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“Don’t write like a girl. Don’t write like a boy. Write like a mother#^@%*&,” the Rumpus columnist “Sugar” advised young writer Elissa Bassist in 2010. Bassist took the advice to heart, making it into an “anthem and a lifestyle” that is about “quitting your bitching, getting out of your own ego, and getting to work.” Three years later, she and “Sugar”—now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things, extend the discussion in an email conversation that appropriately kicks off this powerful collection of work by women writers.
  • Issue Number Number 17
  • Published Date Spring 2004
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This handsome perfect-bound journal out of Chicago with its heavy matte cover first drew me in with its impressive and diverse list of contributor’s names on the back: Nick Carbó, Karen Volkman, Wanda Coleman. From lyric narratives to post-avant experimental work, the poems have in common a certain hipness, an investment in emotion and image, and a conversational directness that draws the reader in.
  • Issue Number Volume 24 Number 4
  • Published Date Summer 2004
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“Everything that once made him rage is now reason to smile,” says the narrator in Judith Oritz Cofer’s “Tio’s Nostalgia” of her uncle, though she could just as easily be describing the contents of the latest Chattahoochee Review. This issue couples celebration and darkness; Cofer’s piece is at once a story of homecoming and of the desire to leave.
Among hundreds of saddle-stitched paper magazines, the Ithaca-based CARVE begs but one comment from this reviewer: I hope it continues its bold showcasing of unknown talent. Through the course of these three issues, CARVE has stuck to its formula, featuring as many as five poems or poem excerpts from each of five or six poets. The contributor demographics, though largely concentrated in New England, have diversified to include New Zealand and the U.K. And the poems are next to impossible to publish just about anywhere, but you’ll find them rewarding if you keep pace with them. Issue 5 includes a small biography of late British poet Ric Caddel, whose self-described style summarizes much of CARVE: “Part of the poetic process which is going on, is precisely that of jamming diverse elements together to see how they work, associating dissociated things.” In issue 6, we see how diverse such elements can be. Bill Marsh toys around with his wordplay meter on high in five excerpts from his magnetic Songs of Nanosense:
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  • Issue Number Volume 23 Number 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
After winning a year’s subscription during last year’s National Poetry Day, I discovered the joy of the Crab Creek Review. What had drawn me into past issues was the range of voices, both from experienced writers and fresh, emerging writers. There has always been a certain charm to the pieces selected, whether their tone leans towards the more serious or whimsical, and this issue is no exception.
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  • Issue Number Number 74
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
There’s something undeniably Faulknerian about this issue of the University of Montana’s literary journal CutBank. You’d think that the publication would cater to luminous pieces of prose and poetry that highlight the golden beauty of the Rocky Mountains, work that showcases rugged mountain people born with a heritage of adventure and manifest destiny. While CutBank does feature poetry and prose that praise the glory of the Midwest, this issue’s selection of contributions seem to be fascinated with the darker elements of human nature, of greed and tainted love, sad-eyed people searching for a savior.
Cranky is a slim little journal just bursting with spunky prose and poetry. The first poem, “When Company Comes,” by Robert Nazarene, sets the tone: “Mommy sweeps me under the sofa / beside the rotten Easter eggs / I was too dumb to find last spring.” There is little lyricism or slow contemplation here; turn to Cranky when you’re ready for sore spots and surprise. Take “The Bitter and Melancholy Exile of a Mummy,” the tale of an exhumed mummy who finds himself in New York City in 1935, which shows that it’s hard to make friends when you’re undead, but easy to become a celebrity. Before heading to Hollywood to make a depressing, falsified film of his own life story, the mummy meets Noel Coward at a cocktail party: “‘I have been often alone,’ Coward says softly, his gaze sliding from the Mummy’s eyes to hide from him the remnants of a desolation felt too often in the past. ‘Not like me,’ the Mummy says bitterly.” And it’s true—you can’t help feeling for someone whose own world is long out of reach and who, undead and immortal, has no way out of this one.
  • Issue Number Number 3
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If anything about this hundred-fifty-page poetry journal can be generalized, it’s that this volume is a collection of stories. Court Green might be considered a relatively new publication, but its formula is already a winner. Aspects of the poetic narrative are in play everywhere, especially in David Hernandez’s “Fork Lines in White Frosting”: “With his presence he contaminated the birthday party, / his aura the dark plumes of a burning tire. Buttonhole // eyes and hair that rebelled the idea of lather and rinse. / Overmedicated, his heart snoozed inside his chest.” Of course, the confessional “I” can be overbearing, but many of the authors resist it, often without elaborate tricks. Occasionally you get a line that hooks you, like the opening couplet from Kirsten Kashock’s “Maiden Mead”: “It was when September, ending jealous, eats bees. We / nervoused again for the island in a boat still made of rocking.” The second half of Court Green is a dossier on bouts-rimés, in which every poem adheres to the same fourteen end-words that the editors advertised when seeking submissions. Although it’s fun to see what results from such concrete rhymes as “Garbo” and “hobo,” the amusement wears off fast, and most poems don’t allow for a deeper reading.
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle annual
Colorado Review is probably best known for its poetry. And this issue includes over fifty pages of poems, including the powerful “Orders of Infinity” by Jacqueline Osherow, a meditation on the inexpressibility of trauma and the loss of singularity when faced with infinity. The narrator of Osherow’s poem returns to a now-tree-lined Treblinka in an attempt to make sense of the thousands who were killed. What the narrator finds are cremated bodies measured in piles of stone. Although the poetry is stellar – and really every piece in this issue demonstrates an exceptional quality of craft – what captures the reader’s attention in this issue is the prose – including the winner of the 2006 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, a haunting story of a man’s unraveling by Lauren Guza, and the essays.
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual+
Everyone loves cake, right? There’s nothing more satisfying than trying a new flavor of cake. It’s something sweet and different, bringing excitement to your mouth and soothing your anxious craving. Caketrain is like a bakery that’s open twenty-four hours to successfully serve even the pickiest of cake eaters. Or in this case, readers. The prose in this magazine is definitely something to dive into. Pedro Ponce’s “Fortune Fish” explores the life of a curious anti-social boy obsessed with Fortune Fish. The boy, due to peer pressure, turns his curiosity to sex and accidentally walks in on his parents.
  • Subtitle 40 X 40: Forty Works by Forty Writers
  • Published Date Spring 2003
Featured authors in this collection include Anton Chekov, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Creeley and Rick Moody. The works are diverse and powerful.
  • Subtitle A Journal of Literature and Art
  • Issue Number Issue 38
  • Published Date 2003
It's hard to know where to begin — there's so much here. A dense, but readable volume with something for everyone: more than three dozen poems, a dozen prose pieces, fiction and nonfiction, two thought-provoking interviews (Ruth Stone, Breyten Breytenbach) and artwork by five wildly different artists, handsomely reproduced. Big volume, big names: Billy Collins, Anne Babson, Kimiko Hahn, Ray Gonzalez, Padgett Powell, David Shields. And some newer stars, too: Mathew Zapruder, Suji Kwock Kim, Jeffrey Faas, Emily Frago. Fass is, in fact, one of three award winners in this issue (one each for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), and his honest and disturbing essay about visiting a close friend in prison ("Five to Life") is an exceptional read. Thomas Beller's essay "The Toy Collector," with its deceptively breezy style, is another. Lots of memorable poems here, too.
A chemotherapy ward is transformed into the visitation grounds of the Angel of Death. A game of American Indian wars interpreted by German boys is played while a real war wages in the background. A Kansas farmer anticipates her horse’s foaling while caring for her old friend, an aerial photographer sensing early signs of brain damage. These stories highlight Crazyhorse 67, whose style can be spelled out with traits—rural, man-versus-nature, agrarian mysticism, even the very presence of horses—but for all of which the prime mover is always the imagination. Christopher Burawa’s “Visitation of the Chemotherapy Angel” is a meditative prose poem; Maria Hummel’s “Peter at the Stake” is a fictional memoir inspired by true events; and Andrew Malan Milward’s “The Agriculture Hall of Fame” is a story about memory—narrated, to surprising effect, backwards and in fragments. 
Clackamas Literary Review, a yearly glossy out of Oregon, features accomplished, edgy work that approaches difficult subjects with verve. Mir Emampoor’s short fiction piece, “The Snake,” elegantly and poignantly tells the story of a young man struggling with doubt, faith and the influence of friends during Ramadan.
Calyx, “A Journal of Art and Literature by Women” produced out of the Pacific Northwest, has a gladdening grab bag of known and unknown authors and artists, as well as some interesting reviews of poetry books by both local and national writers. As usual, the art in Calyx is fascinating, particularly some portrait/collage work by Sara Paulsen, whose images of haunting faces marred by various layering techniques (watercolor, computer graphics) are compelling.
  • Subtitle Readings from Russia
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The front cover of this superb publication shows a sleek black cat, tail high, eyes narrowed to luminous slits, strutting along an embankment in a photograph by Alexander Petrosyan. Like Russia, the cat is proud, a survivor. Gogol saw Russia as a brooding, dark country. These readings convey other writers’ takes on Gogol. Some of the fiction is absurdist fiction written in the early part of the twentieth century, when there was much experimentation in art and literature, like Dadaism. A Soviet writer could get himself shot for writing absurdist fiction under the Stalin regime.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
As a literary magazine of “magical realist and experimental works,” this issue teems with imaginative stories, poetry, and a play. Magical realism wowed Europe before it hit the United States with so much force. This issue will tickle the mind with the ingenuity and refreshingly original, even zany pieces. Who needs brain-altering drugs when reading this can be a mind-blowing experience?
  • Issue Number Number 38
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Nonfiction guru Lee Gutkind describes the new incarnation of Creative Nonfiction (big, bold, red!) in a style befitting any charismatic leader:
  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 3
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
CALYX was established by four women in 1976 to explore the creative genius that women contribute to literature and art. The publication prints three issues per volume in the winter and summer. It presents a wide range of poetry, short stories, artwork, and book reviews. Its mission is to “nurture women’s creativity by publishing fine literature and art by women.” CALYX is known for discovering and publishing new writers and artists or those early in their careers; among them Julia Alvarez, Molly Gloss, and Eleanor Wilner. The publication delivers high quality work to all audiences. By 2005, CALYX had published over 3,800 writers and artists.
  • Issue Number Number 67
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Cutbank is a beautiful journal, published on glossy paper, brimming with cutting-edge poetry and prose, and highlighting a visual artist’s work with full-color images. This issue is particularly rich. Louisa Conrad’s collages grace the covers, front and back, and provide a stunning centerfold of images that are as thought provoking as they are sumptuous. The series simply mesmerizes. So does the prose in this issue. In particular, the short story by Edan Lepucki entitled “The Baby.”
  • Issue Number Number 4
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Court Green number four is political. Each issue of this all-poetry magazine is divided into a “Poems” section, featuring poems on any subject, and a “Dossier” section, dealing with a single theme. It’s the best of both worlds, combining the freedom of a traditional format with the focus of the themed issue.
The music issue of Color Wheel literally sings. Well, almost literally. With essays ranging in subject from the Doors to classical composers, poems that conjure up every noise you can imagine, and actual songs, notes and all, this issue comes as close as you can get to capturing music on paper.
  • Issue Number Issue 44
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The word for Issue 44 of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art – Refreshing! In addition to the work of seventeen poets and four artists, the artistic layout and high quality construction contributes to the attractive overall effect.
  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The title Cave Wall might hearken back to days of Neanderthals and primitive times, but don’t be fooled: this literary magazine contains highly sophisticated, polished poetry. Still, it’s deep, not posh – it manages to touch you in a primeval sort of way – the way you want poetry to. The elegant blue vine on the white cover of this smallish collection gives a more accurate overall impression of its refinement than the title.
  • Issue Number Number 69
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The newest issue of Crazyhorse contains four stories, twelve poets, and an interview with Robert and Penelope Creeley conducted a month before Mr. Creeley's death in 2005. The highlight of the issue is the four new poems by Dean Young, whose work the last two years (appearing regularly in places such as The Believer and Poetry) is potentially the best of his career. In "Home," Young continues this newest surge, writing "Home is where you're always wrong / but only in familiar ways," kicking off his trademark rollercoaster of imagery and fast, vibrant sentences, circling the idea of homecoming and approaching it from a variety of angles that each feel equally true. In fiction, John Tait's "Reasons for Concern Regarding My Girlfriend of Five Days, Monica Garza," a story told in lists of insecurities, worries, and remembrances.
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  • Issue Number Number 00
  • Published Date January 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Not Volume 1, Number 1! The inaugural issue of The Common, published at Amherst College in Massachusetts, is numbered “Issue No. 00.” (Why is that so pleasing?) This is a “mock issue,” a prototype, says editor, Jennifer Acker in her Editor’s Statement. Hence, the non-numbers. This mock issue is not “an official publication,” insists Acker. It’s more like a trial run. (And all of the contents may not make it into the first “official” issue, she says.) This new triannual intends to be a “public gathering place for the display and exchange of ideas…that embody…a sense of place.”
  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date Autumn/Winter 2006-2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Sometimes, when you've read a large number of literary magazines, you begin to feel that one seems much like another. There is no danger of that happening with Circumference. This lively journal of poetry in translation presents a variety of poetic voices, languages, and styles through the ages.
  • Issue Number Volume 23 Number 3
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I'm happy to report that there are some absolute gems in this issue of Calyx. I particularly enjoyed the fiction; many of the stories here feature strong, distinct voices and new approaches to common themes. Raima Evan's "Gittel and the Golden Carp" is a fish-out-of-water tale which presents us with a Polish-American immigrant who feels uneasy in her new country, but whose strange encounter with a talking carp from the butcher's helps her come to terms with it. Another sharp tale is Annie Weatherwax's “Eating Cake,” which features Missy, a young adult whose homosexual brother has been killed in a hate crime; in Missy's small town full of people intolerant of boys who meet other boys in the woods, sympathy is often laced with judgment. Missy is wry, she's smartmouthed, and she's almost moved to violent retaliation against a closed-minded church lady who insults her brother's memory. This is a perceptive look at lives left behind by murder, as well as an acknowledgment of the potential for rage and violence in all of us.
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Issue 4
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This “general” issue of the journal includes analytical/critical essays on Archibald MacLeish, current writing about fatherhood, an examination of burlesque in classical myth, an exploration of a novel by Gail Godwin, review essays on Melville and books on pedagogy, and book reviews of books on poetry, rhetoric, and film. While clearly intended for an academic audience, the journal is nonetheless quite readable for a less specialized audience, in particular essays by Raymond A. Mzurek, “Work and Class in the Box Store University: Autobiography of Working Class Academics,” and Arielle Greenberg and Becca Klaver, “Mad Girls’ Love Songs: Two Women Poets – a Professor and Graduate Student – Discuss Sylvia Plath, Angst, and the Poetics of Female Adolescence.”
  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Cave Wall is a modest literary magazine that succeeds in its simplicity. It is a thin volume and consists exclusively of poetry, though it doesn’t leave you wanting anything more. The quality of the selections is consistent throughout. In the Editor’s Note, Rhett Iseman Trull sets the tone and the context for the issue saying “we cannot remain in one place. The circle of life keeps turning. In memory and in our art, however, we can revisit a moment, letting it touch and change us anew.” Organized by author, each address this theme in their poetry; it is interesting to see each approach as a powerful examination of this very important human issue.
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  • Issue Number Number 40
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Issue 40 is a special theme issue on animals, the centerpiece of which are an excerpted essay and an interview with the talented, perplexing, and always-provocative Lauren Slater, who has a book forthcoming on animals, and who was first published many years ago by this journal. Essayist par excellence Phillip Lopate contributes “Show and Tell” about the human animal, “the ethics of writing about other people.” Well-known writer Susan Cheever describes her encounters with much maligned house mice in “Of Mice and Women,” and Jennifer Lunden, Kateri Kosek, Randy Fertel, Jeff Oaks, and Chester F. Phillips contribute strong essays on butterflies, starlings, grunions, zoos, dogs, and lions.
  • Issue Number Issue Number 44
This beautifully bound, map-wrapped volume is a treasure of outstanding short stories and poetry with new work by familiar names as well as lesser known. The quest theme applies to almost anything, as editor Bradford Morrow acknowledges, having summoned the timeless Robert Coover ("Dragons have no sense of time [. . .]," from "Sir John Paper Returns to Honah-Lee,"), William Gas, ("The Piano Lesson," and a great deal more), and John Barth's forgiven archness in "I've been Told: A Story's Story," as well as Paul West's "Slow Mergers of Local Stars" (it is not enough to simply kill a lion), and Joyce Carol Oates's "The Gravedigger's Daughter" – a mother and child on the lam.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The writers in this issue of The Conium Review have a talent for keeping things moving: tension, mystery, good old-fashioned action pulled off with clarity and skill, and the occasional bombshell of a metaphor. I found myself constantly itching to find out what was going to happen next, which is a feeling that literary magazines should induce more often in their readers.
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The Colorado Review, a handsome journal from Colorado State University, offers readers a quality selection of poetry and prose in the spring issue, demonstrating both a defined aesthetic and enjoyable diversity. The fiction (which includes a story from Alix Ohlin) features direct, third person narratives and a somber realism—stories that, in one way or another, start by laying a few cards on the table, the one exception being the energetic wordplay of Evan Lavender Smith’s “Based on a True Story.
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Issue 2
  • Published Date Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
If you think literary criticism couldn't possibly appeal to anyone but other writers of literary criticism, this issue of College Literature  may change your mind. Serious readers and writers of poetry will be interested in Nigel Fabb and Morris Halle's theory of metrical verse, presented in their essay “Metrical Complexity in Chrisinta Rosetti's Verse.”
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Reading for review forces the consumption of entire publications in very short periods of time: not recommend for this particular journal. This is the kind of publication that would make a reader grateful for her own copy to read and linger over at intervals.
  • Issue Number Number 20
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In my English class, I used this issue of this journal when I started our poetry section; I used it to show students the wide variety of poetry that’s out there. They think of poetry in traditional terms: rhyme, meter, regular looking stanzas. This issue shows what is possible in the poetry world.
  • Issue Number Issue 162
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Who could resist Glendy Chan’s dazzling cover design of this edition of The Cimarron Review? Luckily, the poems and fiction within the journal don’t disappoint. Though not a themed issue, the editors clearly chose pieces with the big picture in mind. This journal really hangs together, with each work speaking to the next.
  • Issue Number Volume 19
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Crab Creek Review strikes me as a fun assemblage of the middlebrow to digest: just the right balance of poetry and fiction so that neither genre obscures the other; light in some places, darker in others, but never resorting to noise. Sometimes, you can’t find clear answers.
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  • Issue Number Number 84
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The latest issue of Crazyhorse has everything we expect from the best literary magazines, from familiar authors’ names—then those same authors delivering in expected and surprising ways—to previously unknown writers delighting with the same energy as those more widely known. I even learned a few things, seeing new ways to break and enjamb poetic lines, and new ways to use space and silence and sequence in verse and prose.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
A literary magazine succeeds when it induces its reader to go beyond the magazine, and look for more of the work written by the same writers or, in the case of a magazine heavier on commentary than fiction or poetry like Chinese Literature Today, to encounter a writer or a work for the first time. The very readable essays, stories, and excerpts written by and about two of the most celebrated Chinese-language writers today—Mo Yan, recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize and Su Tong, whose novel The Boat to Redemption won the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize—that anchor this double issue of Chinese Literature Today do just that. And personally, while I have read Mo Yan and loved Su Tong in the original, the quality of the translations here has caused me rethink my habitual rejection of English translations of Chinese literature (why go for the “substitute” when I can have the “authentic” experience?): as Mo Yan says in his interview, translations are almost originals in themselves.
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Numbers 2 & 3
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The theme of this issue of The Chattahoochee Review is animals, broadly interpreted enough to span war, destiny, and the romantic capitalization of road kill. Reading the journal straight through may change the way you perceive animals, art and even the construction of modern plot conventions.
  • Issue Number Number 66
  • Published Date Fall 2004
Crazyhorse is one of the older American literary magazines, this being its 45th year, and it is nice to see the magazine still willing to publish writing that takes risks. While inevitably some of these fail, there is plenty of material here for the cost. One story that did work was Stephen Tuttle’s “The Funambulist,” which deals with how a town mythologizes the suicide of one of its members: “Our teenagers were not there the day the man walked into and then off our tallest building, but they know people who were. They have all the details.” Eerie and intriguing. 
Carve is a slim volume featuring the work of six poets, five of whom hail from Massachusetts, the journal’s former home base. One of the six poets presents “A Birthday Acrostic for Mark Lamoureux,” Lamoureux being a contributor in Carve’s first issue. On the title page interested poets are requested to “please inquire before submitting.” It all lends a certain air of clubbiness to this volume. Still, that sense should not deter anyone from picking up a copy of Carve. These six are masterful poets, pushing language to work in new ways. The poems are oblique enough to maintain interest and challenge, but not so obscure as to alienate.
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  • Issue Number Volume 31 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In her editor’s note, Anna Schachner talks a lot about her vision for the re-visioning of The Chattahoochee Review and “the need for awe.” With this issue, Schachner has demonstrated the accomplishment of this vision. The Spring/Summer 2011 issue of The Chattahoochee Review is stuffed with work worthy of the word “awe.”
  • Issue Number Number 77
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
One of the things I have always appreciated most about Crazyhorse is Crazyhorse’s appreciation of the capacity of language’s glorious limitations, the way in which what we cannot say, must say, do not say, and end up saying anyway comes to life in the hands of a gifted writer. Here is Jennifer Militello reassuring me that this issue won’t let me down in her poem, “A Dictionary at the Turn of the Millennium”:
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It is a privilege to review this premiere issue of a premier publication from the publishers of the time-honored and highly regarded World Literature Today at the University of Oklahoma. Chinese Literature Today is a gorgeous magazine – even the ads are spectacular – and an important one on multiple levels.
  • Issue Number Number 34
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Issue 34 of Creative Nonfiction is all about baseball. I have to admit, I’m a bigger fan of baseball writing than I am of the actual game, and this magazine does not disappoint. The essays cover many aspects of the game: its history, fandom, positions and paraphernalia. They include heavily researched articles and deeply personal memoirs, but all the essays reveal something fascinating about the game.
  • Issue Number Number 19
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Conduit: subtitled, “Last Laugh,” “Black Humor in Deadpan Alley,” “Words & Visions for Minds on Fire,” is just what these phrases suggest. This tall, narrow issue with a gold skull and crossbones printed on the black cover definitely sports a sense of humor, and strives to be different. Instead of having numbered pages, it has alphabetized words on the lower corners of pages, such as, “antics, balderdash, banter, barb….”all the way to “wag, whoopee cushion, wiseacre, x-ray specs, zany.”
  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brooklyn-based Cannibal by the editorial duo Katy & Matthew Henriksen is a poetry journal in the manner of sharp sincerity – sharp in its well-rounded and striking poem selections and sincere in its physical construction. With a textural screen-printed cover in copper ink, copy-job striations and sewn binding, the journal has the look and feel of a gift hand made for you by your no-frills but talented friend. The journal’s seven signatures handbound to the spine capture in their physicality the overall theme of the work: poems in parts.
  • Issue Number Number 73
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The editors of Crazyhorse give the stories and poems they’ve selected for their most recent issue room to breathe. Often, they print only a handful of lines of verse on the magazine’s generously margined pages. All that space invites the reader to savor the writing, much of which is vivid and haunting.
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