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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.
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • 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.”
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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.”
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
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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