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  • Issue Number Issue 15
  • Published Date 2017
  • Publication Cycle Annual

Sometimes one feels the need to explore the darkness bubbling below the surface. From the Depths from Haunted Waters Press provides such an experience with poetry and prose that raises goosebumps. This issue features the winners and runners-up of the Haunted Waters Press Fiction & Poetry Open, and the Haunted Waters Press Short Shorts Competition for an added treat.

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  • Published Date December 2017
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online

If there were a word to define the December issue of Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, it’d have to be “eclectic.” There truly is no other word I could think of that would adequately describe the nature of the pieces here. The writing ranges widely in style and tone from family-drama fantasy “Vengeance is Born” by Ashley Crisler to “Blister,” Eric Obame’s stark and sobering poem about drug addiction. To be as explicit as possible: eclectic is always a welcome thing in my book.

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  • Published Date 2017
  • Publication Cycle Rolling

Fiction Southeast has a tagline that reads, “An online journal dedicated to short fiction.” The dedication is readily apparent with one look at their site; there are loads of stories stacked as far down as you can scroll. Short fiction almost literally as far as the eye can see! The more recent fiction pieces have a lot to offer in terms of subject matter and character.

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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date June 2017 online
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

Foundry online poetry journal is true to its name in that it ​​views poems as “manufactured objects—the intangible cast into forms.” But unlike the foundries of yore, Foundry magazine is a great deal more flexible in its production, supporting an array of poetic forms and styles. In fact, in searching for a singular descriptor for the type of poetry readers can expect to find here, it was not possible. The editors encourage poems that “feel as much as they think,” and that’s probably the best descriptor I could imagine to draw readers in.

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  • Issue Number Number 271
  • Published Date Spring 2017
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

It may be halfway through summer, but it’s not too late to enjoy the Spring 2017 issue of Canadian literary journal The Fiddlehead. This issue holds timeless treasures, including the winners and honorable mentions of the Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poems and the Short Fiction Prize.

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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

This issue of The Florida Review begins with a Pulse tribute featuring five Orlando authors—queer authors, Latinx authors, authors from the Orlando community. Lisa Roney in her editorial describes “feelings of being both inside and outside of the events of that day [the Pulse shooting].” The published pieces reflect similar contradictions. The fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and graphic narrative draw tension from contradictions and juxtapositions, striking a balance.

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  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date April 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Like all good storytellers, the authors published in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine invite the reader to come close and listen carefully. Only, these authors do so in 360 words or less. David Swann best captures the feeling of storytelling in his piece, “The Story of Her Eye” when he writes, “strangers are the best audience. But stories hate distance.” Flash bridges this distance. The journal is at its best through humor and sometimes fantastical pieces that pull you close.

  • Subtitle Special Fiction Issue
  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 1
  • Published Date 2003

The quiet, simple beauty of Paula Eubanks’ black and white photographs featured in this issue tells you all you need to know about the fiction you’ll find here. These are high-quality stories, told in clear, confident, but unadorned prose. This issue opens with “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” by Alice Hoffman, with strongly depicted characters and a keen sense of place: “I could place a single blade of eelgrass between my fingers and whistle so loudly the oysters buried in the mud would spit at us.” In “An Only Child,” Julia Lamb Stemple gives us a heartbreaking look at a boy’s ambivalence towards growing up: “He wanted to hold himself close to [his babysitter] again but thought that she didn’t want him to, and something seemed to come loose inside him. He looked over at the triangle of shadow between the ficus and the entertainment center where he had been hiding and saw that she must have known he was there all the time.”

  • Issue Number Issue 22
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Editor Jaime Robles chooses a quotation from Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose to help define "uncanny love," this issues' theme: "first the soul grows tender, then it sickens…but then it feels the true warmth of divine love and cries out and moans and becomes as stone flung in the forge to melt into lime, and it crackles, licked by the flame…" But there isn't much moaning here, as it turns out. The work in issue 22 is, for the most part, controlled, tightly wound, sure of itself, and intense.
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2005
"Ooh, mail art!" Such was my glee in flipping through Fourteen Hills, which is chock full of collages by collaborators Mike Dickau & Jon Held Jr., not to mention the inimitable Winston Smith. This issue of the journal is something of a collage itself, boasting a variety of talented writers from San Francisco and from around the world. Binyavanga Wainaina's "Hell is in Bed with Mrs. Peprah" takes the reader to a beauty shop in Kenya in the late 70s, where a young girl sits among the hot combs and gossip and listens to the educated, eccentric, and undeniably strong "Auntie" Peprah defend herself against naysayers.
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  • Issue Number Number 93
  • Published Date Fall 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Just over one third of the fall issue of FIELD: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics is dedicated to a symposium on Russell Edson, a strikingly original poet, playwright, novelist and illustrator who died in 2014. Born in 1935, Edson studied art as a teen, then began publishing poetry in the 1960s. His corpus of work, in addition to numerous books of poetry, includes a book of plays, two novels, and the much-cited 1975 essay, “Portrait of the Writer as a Fat Man: Some Subjective Ideas or Notions on the Care and Feeding of Prose Poems.” In fact, The Poetry Foundation has referred to Edson as the “godfather of the prose poem in America.” In tribute, several contemporary writers each comment on a different Edson poem.
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  • Issue Number Volume 21 Number 2
  • Published Date 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“Scottie as The Captain covers her head with her dress, flips the table over, jumps in and rows desperately.” You’ve just read stage directions for “Excerpt from Scottie Doesn’t Play,” a one-act play by Da’Shay Portis in the literary magazine Fourteen Hills – proof that this thick volume is packed with diverse experimental, progressive and cross-genre writings and images.
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  • Issue Number Number 264
  • Published Date Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Fiddlehead has been publishing for 70 years. That is no small feat. The extreme quality of this summer fiction issue exudes wisdom, diversity, and a sophistication that younger publishers need to experience to fully apprehend. All too often, literary journals feel slap-dab, thrown together, off-the cuff—the antithesis of Fiddlehead. As Editor Mark Anthony Jarman modestly states in his foreword: “No one else in Canada can touch what we are doing now.” Although I am not a fan of braggarts, I have to agree. This selection of 14 short stories takes the reader around the world; from a pearl shop in Tahiti to a bar in Barcelona.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41
  • Published Date 2015
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If there’s one thing I appreciate, it’s a thin journal. Lightweight, no long-term commitment intimidation, something us not-so-fast-readers can truly read in one sitting. Add to that over a dozen names on the table of contents, and there’s no doubt the variety will add some interesting diversity as a return on the short-term time investment. This is an apt descriptor to introduce Fox Cry Review published out of University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley.
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  • Issue Number Volume 25 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The 25th Anniversary Issue of Freefall includes only a little over 100 pages of refreshing entertainment. “Only” is an apt inclusion because it would be commendable if we could have even more as soon as possible.
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  • Issue Number Volume 38 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This double issue of The Florida Review packs in a dazzling array of thought-provoking reading. It invites with accessible forms and quotidian subjects, and rewards with more challenging and experimental material. It covers a vast range of the human experience: what is it like, and what does it mean, to be a woman, a Mormon, a Jew, a person aware of the nearness of death, a person pondering her relationship to her vocation?
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  • Issue Number Issue 27
  • Published Date August 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
As part of the Texas State University MFA program, Front Porch Journal publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, reviews, and interviews. I’ve perhaps come across it too late to enjoy on those final summer afternoons as the editors suggest (especially since I swore I saw snow this morning), but it’s never too late to enjoy the writing. As I do with most journals, I gravitated to the nonfiction section first. The first of the two selections is Wendy C. Ortiz’s “September 1986,” which was first published in issue 10 and republished here to honor the publication of her collection of essays, Excavation: A Memoir. After reading it, I certainly wanted to pick up her book. Set in a junior high classroom, this essay explores a moment in which, despite her desire to come off as disinterested, Ortiz is first recognized for her writing.
  • Subtitle A Journal of Writing & Environment
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  • Published Date March 2014
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
Home to Iowa State University, Flyway aims to publish work that “that explores the many complicated facets of the word environment—at once rural, urban, and suburban—and its social and political implications.” While environment may be a theme of the journal in general, I think it’s a pretty loose interpretation, meaning that almost any type of story could fit. But that isn’t to say that any piece of work could be accepted; the work presented here is polished, and is worth reading.
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  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 1
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

This issue of Five Points is an issue of reflection, from its opening tribute to Maxine Kumin, in which associate editor Beth Gylys remembers researching the literary friendship between Kumin and Anne Sexton for her college senior thesis, to the poems of Ellen Bass and Barbara Hamby, who reflect on meals of pork chops and fried chicken, respectively. We also have the reflective photographs of Vesna Pavlović through his project “Fabrics of Socialism” and Kirk West’s photos of blues venues, artists, and objects. The issue also includes interviews with Kumin, West, and Stephen Dunn.

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  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

Frogpond is the subscription/membership publication of the Haiku Society of America, and for anybody the least bit into haiku or who would like to learn about haiku and the many forms of traditional Japanese poetry and modernized versions of it, this is one of THE publications to be reading.

Frogpond regularly publishes haiku, senryu, haibun, rengay (and other short sequential forms), renku (and other long sequence forms), essays, and book reviews. Each issues begins with a full page devoted to the winner of the Museum of Haiku Literature Award (currently $100) for the best previously unpublished work appearing in the last issue of Frogpond.

  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 3
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
A capricious God, a toad-killer with a nine iron, and a broke gambler whose only joy in the world is Howard Stern, walk into a bar called Five Points. The only question is, why aren’t you there already? This issue serves up poetry ranging from Charles Simic’s “Metaphysics Anonymous” (“The unreality of our being here, / an additional quandary we are cautioned / not to concern ourselves”) to Richard Howard’s challenging but compelling re-vision (“Look again, look closer.”) of Peter Paul Reuben’s painting, “The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus by Castor and Pollux.”
  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
We might think of ourselves as too sophisticated for fairy tales, that is, if the term conjures up Disney-ish recastings of classic tales; yet, fairy tales provide a body of common knowledge upon which to draw for literary allusions, and thus serve as currency even in our modern lives. Moreover, these tales recast archetypes and tap into our deepest fears: there are still beasts (literal and metaphoric) to conquer, the distressed who need a rescue, the hope of bliss—but at a cost.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Fairy Tale Review maintains its fanciful theme well, but its significance as a literary document exceeds whimsy: the authors transform modern literature, spackling any clichés or invention with language, philosophy, and critical energy.
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Feile-Feste is a taut little review produced by Paradiso-Parthas Press in New York City, “an independent venture circumventing corporate publishing.” The press defines the work it publishes as “accessible and innovative.” I’m not sure this issue demonstrates a great deal in the way of innovation, but the work is definitely “accessible” and much of it is appealing. What is most innovative, perhaps, is the inclusion of several works in English/Italian alongside their Italian/English translations, both prose and poetry. These include a very long narrative poem by a New York-based poet of Sicilian descent, Maria Frasca, and an essay by Enzo Farinella, a native Sicilian who lives in Ireland.
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I had never before read an issue of Freshwater, a journal produced yearly by the Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, CT. In her “Editor’s Note,” Edwina Trentham is full of thanks, particularly to student editors who seem to be responsible for much of the journal’s production (as opposed to some lit mags who only allow students to be involved in the very early stages of selection, or just production grunt work). This note also revealed the dedication of the Freshwater team; many men and women clearly spent a great deal of time on this issue and I find this exceedingly refreshing. What’s better than a group of editors that care deeply about the selection and production process?
  • Issue Number Issue 37
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
I will admit that Twitter is somewhat of a new phenomenon to me, and I really only use it for work purposes, but the hash tag culture has me intrigued. When I discovered that FRiGG’s summer issue was entirely Twitter themed, I antcipated some laughs—and I wasn’t disappointed. In the editor’s note—appropriately titled “#WhatIsThis?”—Ellen Parker says, “most people on Twitter aren’t writers. (Which I love.) At least, they don’t know they’re writers. But you should see some of these people’s tweets. They’re brilliant. . . . All of the contributors here call themselves writers, and they were selected because the people I know online tend to be writers, but I want to make it clear: I love many people on Twitter who do not call themselves writers.”
  • Issue Number Volume 20
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Faultline is the journal of the English department at the University of California-Irvine. The journal has a quiet, slightly offbeat feel to it. Much of the fiction is the kind that could be about people you know—but, then, there’s just something different, something slightly magical and slightly weird about it.
  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
“It’s very difficult to say peace is an ideal unless you go on to define an ideal as something you can’t possibly have, but can’t possibly help wanting to have. That’d be another way to look at an ideal. And both cases can’t possibly mind you, can’t possibly have, but can’t possibly help wanting to have.” One of this year’s “Fulcrum Features” is a set of 16 essays on “Samuel Beckett as Poet,” so you might think this excerpt is related to Beckett or to one of his contemporaries, in sensibility, if not style. But you’d be wrong! It’s from another Fulcrum Feature altogether, “Robert Frost: Three Unpublished Talks.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 1
  • Published Date January 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
I’ve always loved flash fiction for its brevity, its ability to, as they say, “pack a punch” in such a short space. Each sentence bears weight. Well the poems in this magazine close that circle a little tighter; here, each word, nay, each syllable bears tremendous weight. Each poem must be four lines or fewer and cannot contain more than twenty words. Similar to the idea of the six-word story, these poems must convey imagery, idea, insight within a small space. For the most part, all of these pieces accomplish that goal.
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  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date January 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
If I had to come up with a certain way to describe this issue, it would be that it is about reminiscing, of looking back into the past and either wishing to return to that time, or just appreciating it for what it was.
  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fifth Wednesday Journal is a most impressive magazine. Each beautifully-designed issue contains about 200 pages of poetry, prose, and black-and-white art and photography. Its editor, Vern Miller, has advanced degrees in both business and German Language and Literature, and FWJ, as it likes to be called, is the splendid result of these two passions. Guest editors in poetry and fiction oversee each issue. “Impressions,” the photo-and-art center section, is arresting and often brilliant. Interviews with a poet and a fiction writer, along with a number of book reviews, round out the journal.
  • Issue Number Number 247
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The spring issue of The Fiddlehead delivers stunning work, fiction and poetry thick with new approaches to classic forms. This issue also features the winners of The Fiddlehead’s 20th annual Literary Contest. The honorable mention in poetry caught my eye early in the issue, “At the Edge of Lake Simcoe” by Catherine Owen:
  • Issue Number Volume 12 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I often read on the train, and no issue has brought more questions from strangers than this issue of Fourteen Hills. Much of the credit belongs to this issue’s gorgeous and disturbing cover, The Best Intentions by Tiffany Bozic. The stories are often like the painting—imagistic and somewhat scientific, but with something slightly discomfiting about them.
Exquisite engravings from Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam by German naturalist and artist Maria Silbylla Merian (1647-1717) are reproduced on the cover and also inside this issue. Merian's observations are said to have "revolutionized both botany and zoology," and it is evident from the specimens presented here why this is so.
The surrealist-naturalist oils of Margaret Wall-Romana set the tone for this journal, the theme of which is “Gardens in the Urban Jungle.” Grouped into sections according to which editor selected them, the works represent a broad interpretation of the seemingly-simple motif—from straightforward botanical sketches to Yiddish verse printed in both English and Hebrew.
  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In a rut? Need a break from the regular story-poetry-essay journal form? This unpretentious little mag takes you beyond the three genres. Published by Michigan State University, Fourth Genre dedicates all of its nearly 200 pages to narrative nonfiction—from personal essays to travel and nature writing to literary journalism—and has, since its 1999 inception, earned four Pushcarts and generated its own thick anthology. Though the quality is obvious from a quick flip-through, each issue merits extended quiet time in your favorite chair.
  • Subtitle Contemporary Poetry and Poetics
  • Issue Number Number 70
  • Published Date Spring 2004
Field is a journal with an admirably clear and consistent editorial vision.
  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2004
The First Line is a fiction magazine in which every short story begins with the same first line and, of course, ends in an entirely different place. This issue’s first line is “There were five of them, which was two more than I’d been expecting.” Some of the resulting pieces are mainstream fiction, and rather funny.
  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2004
Billy Collins’ gracing the opening of this issue with three wonderful poems is almost an added bonus, because The Florida Review is already filled with outstanding writers whose names may not be recognizable but whose work is surely a sign of things to come.
I realize that, as far as profits go, lit mags are like lemonade stands among the blue chips of the publishing industry, but I’m no better than the next guy: I don’t think twice about a 60-page booklet with a seven-dollar price tag.
  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Front Range “features work from writers and artists, not only from the Rocky Mountain West but from all around the world.” These writers, many of them award winners, seem to share a focus and connection with nature and their relationship with it. While poetry dominates the journal, the few short fiction and nonfiction stories add diversity and depth to the journal. Front Range looks for artists who have works of “high quality,” which allows the journal to explore many aspects of the human condition. Also, the artwork placed throughout the journal offers another perspective on the human experience that Front Range looks to capture. Almost all the images published are landscape photos, but perhaps the most unique and interesting photo in this issue is one taken by Ira Joel Haber called “Reflections.” This photograph shows the reflection of a mannequin in a shop window, which calls into question self-reflection in a bustling modern world.
  • Issue Number Number 4
  • Published Date February 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This literary journal is celebrating one year of publishing stories and modestly advertises itself as “The best new fiction on the web. Or anywhere else, for that matter.” The winter issue presents eight stories and an editor’s note giving a synopsis of their accomplishments to date. Certainly they have something to brag about when they state: “We’re developing something of a reputation around these parts. The word’s out that Freight Stories authors have published over 50 books, including finalists for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize and bestsellers.” They are also proud of the fact that they have brought the reader the work of first time and emerging writers, “just like we planned.”
My thinking wasn’t foggy – it was just wrong! At first glance, I didn’t expect to like Fogged Clarity, the first print publication from online journal producer Benjamin Evans (despite my pleasure at seeing a publication expand to print from electronic production, instead of the other way around). I didn’t care for the title or the burnt orange cover and its image of a cosmonaut. Even the name of one of my favorite writers, Terese Svoboda, on the cover couldn’t sway me. But, did I have water on the brain? I loved the magazine, beginning with Howie Good’s poem, “Gifts for the End of the Decade.” An excerpt:
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle annual
For most of us in the U.S., “haiku” conjures memories of fourth grade teachers, 5-7-5 syllable counts, and the camaraderie of a bake sale. But, if you read Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America, you’d be wrong except for the camaraderie.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The experience of a minute occurs differently on a train, in sixty parts, rather than the measurable clattering of east coast winter hellos, vowels in mini-seconds through the incisors. Traveling by rail has been the essential inorganic character of thousands of recollections of the Western canon. Like the prospects of vaudeville and print journalism, it was meant to last forever. And thanks to a moving, technically masterful essay by Barbara Hass in the current issue of Fjords, it does. Her essay, “This Wilderness We Can’t Contain,” is imaginative without losing the tight management of its political and philosophical themes, without unraveling the travel narrative in the irresistible surrealism of the setting. In unpacking the 2011 flood of the Missouri River, she captures an essential rail experience—with the expert and shifting lens of the other elements that contribute to environmental disaster.
  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2003-2004
For a magazine justly famous for pioneering the way for experimental verse, Fence displays a surprisingly delicate balance of avant-garde and traditional work, with poets ranging from Mary Ruefle to Nancy Kuhl to Ray DiPalma. So, those of you who shun the hip pyrotechnics of the cutting edge, do not be scared away; see as evidence these opening lines from the wonderful “Mr. Mann Finds a Photograph of Daedalus”: “He had always believed the old stories. / Wolves in the forest. Children eating / candy houses. The savage etiquette / of queens . . . ”
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date April 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
foam:e, an Australian online poetry annual, is now in its tenth year. Because of its origin, I am lost on some of the details, references, and government issues, but overall, the issue was an enjoyable array of poetry, varying in topic, form, and tone.
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  • Issue Number Issue 51
  • Published Date September/October 2013
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
Executive Editor Ben Evans writes that he hopes readers will find, in Fogged Clarity, “something resonant here, something stirring and poignant . . .” The sole fiction piece, Benjamin Roesch’s “If You’re Listening to This,” resonates with me. It is a heartfelt look into Luke’s lifelong struggle to remember his father and feel his father’s love for him. Now married to Jasper, Luke donates his sperm to his ex-wife, who is also gay and wants to have a baby in France with her wife. What seemed at first a brainless act, becoming a biological father turns out to be a bigger deal for Luke than he would have guessed. Eager to tell his new daughter that he loves her and will always be there in the way his own father couldn’t, Luke runs into conflict when her mothers tell him that they don’t plan to tell their daughter who the donor is. It’s definitely a standout piece, right from the very beginning, which is definitely an attention getter: “Luke found himself in a small room with no windows. There was porn of all persuasions. There were tissues and baby wipes. There was Jergens almond scented lotion.”
First Intensity considers itself a magazine of "new writing," and indeed, most of the writers here are new to me. The editor indicates that "due to illness and the press of deadlines" no contributors' notes appear in this issue. This is actually quite freeing! Of the three dozen or so writers included here, whose names will I search for again, based on what I've read and appreciated, not on the credentials presented?
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“Defining literature. In real context.” is how Fifth Wednesday describes itself, making smart use of the multiple layers of meaning these terms evoke (I especially like “defining,” which works grammatical overtime). That said, I’m not sure what this actually does mean. What I do know, thanks to publisher Vern Miller's Editor’s Notes, is that each issue is guest edited (fiction editor this issue is J.C. Hallman and poetry editor is Nina Corwin); in this fourth issue the journal has now added a section of book reviews; and the magazine feels “obligated” to bring readers some new voices in literature. Alongside these emerging voices, Issue 4 also includes a poem by the incredibly prolific and popular novelist and poet Marge Piercy and award-winning poet Arielle Greenberg. An interview with Greenberg opens the issue.
  • Issue Number Number 30
  • Published Date Autumn 2003
This zine-styled publication should be on the required reading list for college-level creative writing and poetry classes: a jewel of a compact scholarly literary supplement that can provide the basis for numerous discussions and approaches to poetry.
A section of this issue of Field is dedicated to pieces in tribute to and discussion of James Wright, the poet who, among many literary achievements, brought to life the tragic and desolate landscapes of Martins Ferry, Ohio.
  • Issue Number Number 41
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The 20th anniversary issue of Free Lunch is so chock full of delicious goodies for the main course, that dare I say there won’t be much room left for dessert, as the cover attempts so successfully to convey. To continue with the food metaphors and analogies, this journal is comparable to a three-course dinner. It is well balanced with poets of great renowned interspersed with poets of lesser acclaim, and poets somewhere in the middle who balance the plate out just right. The poems in this issue are joyful, ironic affirmations of poetry combining a great lyrical acuity with a strong sense of narrative.
  • Issue Number Number 240
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Summer edition of The Fiddlehead was a great read. It’s filled with short stories and reviews, strictly speaking. I found myself at turns sad, scared, and empathetic. Still, I was perfectly calmed by the reading of all this pathos and dark energy. It’s almost as though I saw a bit of myself in each of these stories. In the Editor’s note, “Dark Was the Night, Bright Was the Diamond,” Mark Anthony Jarman writes that the reader will find, “stories moving through the stone lands of Ireland, France, and Spain, stories in cottage country, punk clubs, and on Napoleon’s Italian campaign,” and comments that the short story format has gotten short shrift these days, if the media are to be believed, but adds that the Pulitzer Prize for fiction went to Elizabeth Strout for her collection of said literary form. Jarman quotes, for his point, Steven Millhauser: “smallness is the realm of elegance and grace,” and Jarman adds, “the realm of perfection.”
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published by the creative writing department of San Francisco State University, Fourteen Hills might just as aptly be titled “Fourteen Styles,” such a broad spectrum of approaches to narrative and poetics does it present, at least in this summer/fall issue. In the realm of fiction I found myself very taken with the short story “Three Girls” by Anne Clifford, which so deftly utilizes first, second, and third person perspectives, shifting from one to another and back with a spot-on rhythmic agility.
  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Photographed in sepia tones, a man holds a globe while facing the camera. John Bohannon’s cover plays with expectations of scale. It seems to evoke mastery, to suggest that man is large enough to contain the world in his hands, that the immense has suddenly become bearable. The latest volume of The Florida Review, however, often confirms that we are still very much of the world rather than standing somewhere beyond its concerns.
  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 2
  • Published Date 2004
The work in Five Points boasts a consistently down-home earnestness.
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  • Issue Number Number 258
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Winter 2014 issue of Fiddlehead turns on moments of awareness of awareness, capturing the instants we catch ourselves catching ourselves, revelations of self to self, to the reader, and to other characters. It’s charming, this subtle focus moving from piece to piece, from poem to prose to poem to poem, and the sequence suggests this international journal from the University of New Brunswick is edited with precision.
  • Issue Number Issue 28/29
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
There seems to be general agreement that one of the better online literary magazines today is failbetter.com. They get their name from the short poem by Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. / Ever failed. / No matter. / Try again. / Fail again. / Fail better.” – certainly a philosophy we could all fruitfully adopt. I am particularly impressed with the layout of this journal, where everything is easily accessible from the home page. The latest postings are found at the top, and scrolling down allows one to sample recent fiction, poetry, visuals, and interviews in a descending chronological order. The editors also appear to be rather selective in accepting new work: only six short stories are presented on the site from July 15 to November 4.
  • Issue Number Number 35
  • Published Date Summer-Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Mark Halliday, judge for the journal’s annual poetry contest, describes the winning poems as “ready to…confront contradictions,” “avoid dumb enthusiasm,” and provide “neatly managed endings,” which serves equally well to describe Fugue’s editorial approach, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve always liked the magazine. I appreciate Halliday's winning choices, poems by Lisa Bellamy, David J. Corbett, and Carol Louise Munn, three distinctly different examples of what it takes to make a poem, but all “strikingly alive,” as Halliday says, and all more emotionally charged and more satisfying than they appear on a first reading. These poems tell stories more moving and more complex than their language, at first, seems to imply. Bellamy, in particular, is both clever and tender, a combination of tones that can be difficult to pull off.
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In her entertaining and highly original Editors’ Note, Jocelyn Bartkevicius says at The Florida Review they’ve been “arguing over what counts as truth.” If names in the Table of Contents don’t make you eager to read the journal (Maureen P. Stanton, Baron Wormser, Tony Hoagland, Denise Duhamel, Michel Burkard, an interview with Terese Svoboda), the editor’s creative consideration of what constitutes fact checking, whether or not authors get to define the genres of their work, and the meaning of “truth” in these post James Frey Debacle times (as the Review’s staff refers to them) surely will.
  • Issue Number Issue 45
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
failbetter.com is an online magazine inspired by the quote from Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” After a short break, they are now publishing again. This issue of failbetter.com offers two stories and two poems.
  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Fiction Fix offers a large issue (so please forgive my not-so-mini review) filled with many different types of fiction. Some are more traditional stories, while others offer their messages by incorporating images and drawings.
  • Issue Number Volume 20 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2010-11
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Freefall is true to its name, and you never know where you’ll land. John Wall Barger’s prose poem “Scream” begins on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and winds up in India in the early years of the next century:
  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
As a journal dedicated to literary works focused on “the environment” (here, interpreted as the natural world), Flyway is an unusual publication. The magazine is atypical, as well, for its inclusion of a complete chapbook of poetry (selected through a contest), Lois Marie Harrod’s “Cosmogony.” Selections from contest finalist Corrie Williamson’s chapbook are also published in this volume. An interview with fiction writer Ann Pancake, poetry from four additional poets, five essays, and three short stories round out the issue.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue is an eclectic, sometimes compelling online presentation of poetry, fiction and art, which features established authors, and neophytes in a surprising mix. The site is charmingly accessed by "Blue Leaf," cover art by Christopher Woods; a little sip of Lewis Carroll's work greets the reader. Nice touch.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date April 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
Fiddleblack, an online magazine now on its tenth issue, seeks to find and publish pieces that “eloquently capture what it means to know the finite bounds of self and place.” The editors go on to say that they are “interested in works of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction that make purposeful commitments to figuring out whom one is meant to be, and how it is that one should exist in the space enclosed around him.” And certainly the characters included in this issue are searching through these problems.
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  • Issue Number Number 89
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Rather than mar pristine journals with my unkempt scribbles, I’ve taken to flagging particularly insightful or arresting passages in them with sticky notes. Suffice it to say, my copy of Field’s latest issue has more flags in it than the parking lot of a Toby Keith concert. Where other journals can feel bloated with uneven material, the new issue of Field weighs in at a lean one hundred pages. Sporting cover art by British artist Gary Hume, as well as poetry and essays by established and emerging writers, the new issue eloquently makes a case for Field’s place near the top of the poetry heap.
  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Frequencies, a new biannual journal published by Two Dollar Radio, is dedicated to delivering artful essays for your reading pleasure. This first issue only contains four essays and an interview with Anne Carson, but the quality of each piece makes this journal heavy with literary weight.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Tim Foley and the other editors of The Farallon Review aim to, “share the work of writers who still believe that short fiction is a unique artform, worth writing, and worth reading.” The realistic fiction in this new journal is certainly long on imagination and features distinctive narrators.
  • Issue Number Volume 15 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2004
Are you lonely for the music that used to inhabit the house of poetry? Do you miss the rhyme, though you visit it sometimes in the lyrics of your favorite songs? Does a stray phrase from “Prufrock” or “Innisfree” or “Stopping By Woods” pop into your head every now and again, wondering where you’ve gone?
  • Issue Number Volume 7 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2004
Fence opens with a reprint of Vladimir Nabokov's marvelous "Canto One," a tough act for any poet to follow. Eighth-grader Kyle Kenner does a good job with his two prose poems, including "Drafted," a powerful, understated piece which ends: "A couple of days after the war was no more, his mom received a letter. A letter from the U.S.A. The letter said the soldier fought well, the letter said the soldier was no more."
This appealing journal out of the University of Maryland publishes feminist research, analysis, theory, reviews, art, as well as poetry and fiction; the overall flavor of this issue was resolutely academic. Particularly interesting in this issue was Stephanie Hartman’s essay “Reading the Scar in Breast Cancer Poetry,” which examined how poets like Hilda Raz, Audre Lorde, and Marilyn Hacker wrote about the physical and metaphorical scars of breast cancer. Also a startling discovery – the amazing art work of Betye and Alison Saar, whose work has both powerful symbolism and haunting directness.
  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“I was looking for hope. I was trying to find a durable kind of hope to direct myself toward in order to pull together that broken piece of my life,” says environmental activist and essayist William DeBuys in his interview with Fourth Genre editor Robert Root. I read, always, looking for that durable hope, and I suspect I am not alone, but I am not sure I have ever encountered a more concise or precise description of this yearning. DeBuys is equally astute and humble in efforts here to define the forms and meaning of his own work and of the larger task of documenting the natural world about which he writes.
  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The fall issue of The Florida Review is their contest issue, highlighting winners of the 2007 Editors’ Awards in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date October 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
For each issue, Five Quarterly publishes five poems and five pieces of fiction, all selected by five judges (which also change with each quarter). The judges for this issue are Stephen Paul Miller, Fernando Perez III, Jasmin Rosario, Cheryl Wilson, and Tiphanie Yanique.
  • Issue Number Issue 13
  • Published Date October 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
Hear the name The Fib Review and you may think it is a journal dedicated to literature about lies. But actually, it showcases a unique form of poetry—the Fibonacci poem. Based off of the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 . . . or Fn = Fn-1 + Fn-2), the poems use the number of words or syllables on a line to build the pattern, making the journal a wonderful creative outlet for math-lovers.
  • Issue Number Issue 42
  • Published Date November 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
This issue of Fogged Clarity contains poetry, one piece of fiction, music, an interview, and a review. At first, I was concerned about there being so little in the issue (not realizing at first its monthly publication cycle), but each piece is strong and worth reading.
  • Issue Number Issues 20, 21, 22
  • Published Date Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This lit mag has a manifesto: “We worry about the state of modern literature. We worry that it’s too realist, monolithic, corporate, print-bound and locked in its own bubble…We think literature is a place to safely explore controversial and unpleasant topics and unfamiliar points of view.” Online magazine websites are vastly different in structure, and I found this one a bit difficult to negotiate in the beginning, but there are many gems to be discovered.
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  • Issue Number Volume 19 Number 2
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fourteen Hills, the literary journal of San Francisco State University, has already received a lot of praise. This journal specializes in presenting experimental and progressive poetry, fiction, and illustrations from vibrant artists living in the US and abroad.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
According to the mission statement, “First Inkling is a visionary print and online medium dedicated to seeking out the most talented student authors in the English language, and publishing their work alongside criticism from the most important writers of our age.” With its second issue, the magazine has attempted to keep this mission foremost in mind. The collection of student writing in five genres between its artful covers is representative of writing programs and universities from ten of the United States and the UK. Published by Rockland Community College of the State University of New York, it lays claim to being “the best college and university writing in English.” These momentous goals aside, the 2013 issue of the magazine contains some gems to be mined by thoughtful readers.
  • Issue Number Volume 4
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Found Poetry Review features—you guessed it—found poetry. Borrowing text from anything from tweets to speeches and newspaper articles to books, the magazine is a fruitful collage of collages.
  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Front Porch is a online journal of informative and plentiful works of fiction, poetry, reviews, nonfiction, interviews, and audio visual that are gratifying and engaging to the intellect.
  • Issue Number Issue 14
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Free Verse is an experimental poetry forum for poets that do not follow the normal tenets of form and structure, reveling instead in modern and post-modern tendencies to deconstruct the sentence or line and turn it on its head so that the meaning seems like a coded message scattered in the form of extreme line breaks or unconventional prose-like formations. Rhyme and meter are not ignored here entirely, they are just pushed aside for new and tantalizing artistic configurations that stray from structural traditions, if not always-topical ones.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 1
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue of Four Ties Lit Review has a, perhaps unintentional, unifying theme: looking at people and communities in a new light and learning to accept the differences and overcome the boundaries—whether it is the readers who are asked to do this or the characters in the stories themselves.
  • Issue Number Volume 8
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The eighth issue of f-magazine: novels in progress and more – came forty two years after the first issue. The subtitle, “Story – Imagining: Departures and Arrivals,” gives a hint of what’s to be found inside. It is commendable to be so bold as to include so many excerpts of developing novels, with all their rough edges intact. For example, “Smoky Mountain National Park” from Where the Angels Are by Anne-Marie Oomen shows great promise. It touchingly juxtaposes a couple’s hike down the Appalachian Trail on the beginning of the second Gulf War, punching the narrator in the gut. She writes, “It is the last time I cry…Oh, let there be angels.” It is also heavy-handed, thinner on story and fatter on message, and very much inside the narrator’s mind. Still, it brings the reader along.
I have a soft spot for university literary journals. Maybe it’s because I have a closer connection to these folks because I was a college student not too long ago and know what it’s like to wade through the slush pile in a tiny room at night with only a Snickers bar to keep me going.
  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
With this issue, Fourteen Hills has captured at least one more subscriber for itself. Both the fiction and the poetry are innovative and powerful. This is business as usual, judging by previous reviews here on NewPages. In “Population One” by Don Waters, winner of the 2007 Iowa Short Fiction Award, we find a story Cormac McCarthy might write if he wrote short fiction. As a trip through the murderous heat of the desert turns disastrous for the two main characters, we are reminded of how the innocent and the guilty are each a little bit of both, and, in the end, chained to the same fate. John Henry Fleming contributes to this issue with his beautiful and mysterious story entitled “Cloud Reader.” The cloud reader, a humbly Socratic, Christ-like figure, struggles not to betray his convictions when instead he could take the easy way out. This is after the townspeople turn against him only days after they sought (and even paid for) a prophetic word from the mysterious wanderer.
  • Subtitle A Literary Journal at American University
  • Issue Number Volume 20 Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This slim slick-paged journal contains, along with stories and poems, the interesting "On Writing, Stubbornness, and Food: An Interview with Leslie Pietrzyk."
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  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date March 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Like all cherished fairy tales from childhood, the Yellow Issue of Fairy Tale Review invites its readers on a journey with memorable characters and promises treasure. The typical reward of the fairy tale as we know it, though, is more elusive in the selections in this issue, and we are asked to listen carefully. Guest Editor Lily Hoang says to “tiptoe forth with caution or come with sword drawn.” Sage advice, for some of these modern fairy tales come equipped with evil, real and imaginary.
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  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2013-2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
As an introduction to this issue of Fence, Rebecca Wolff covers all the bases in her editor’s note: poetry, nonfiction, and, yes, fiction (because confessions and revelations often feel like fiction). Wolff’s tone is unapologetic, proud of her position, her power as editor: “It is in my power to bestow power, to share it.” One can argue that she’s flaunting this power, waving it in your face in a mixed mode of fuck-you and endearment, which is not unusual, since we live in the age of Facebook and Twitter where being in and over each other’s face has become common ritual, where our perceptions of privacy are constantly challenged by this urge to be social. Thus, the tone of this issue loudly and approximately adheres to the tenor of Wolff’s piece: forceful, hammered, on steroids, bitchy, suspicious of melancholia, and persistently fresh.
  • Issue Number Issue 15
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This journal is run by the MFA students at Texas State University and was founded in 2006. Each edition produces some combination of fiction, nonfiction, book reviews, interviews, poetry, and audio/videos.
  • Issue Number Number 21
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It sounds huge – Forklift. It’s subtitled as if the description was written after a night of heavy drinking – A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety. It’s quirky – for example, section titles from the TOC: A Precaution in Planting; Fresh from the Nursery; Animals in the Garden; Sprinkling vs. Watering; and so forth. It looks fun, with whacky illustrations and graphics. It feels small – Forklift fits in one palm. It’s all of these things. And none of them. And you should take it seriously, even if it does its level best to dissuade you from doing so, at least at first glance.
  • Issue Number Volume XVII Number 2
  • Published Date Winter/ Spring 2007-8
Freefall: Canada’s Magazine of Exquisite Writing features selections from both Canadian and American authors, although the vast majority is Canadian. This journal is the first Canadian journal I’ve read, and I found the poems and stories clear, concise, and engaging.
  • Issue Number Number 77
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If as I do, you like to not only read poetry but read about poetry (appreciations, explications, close textual analyses), then you’ll certainly want to delve into the 80-page symposium on Adrienne Rich that begins this volume and the two new poems by Rich that conclude it. In addition to those of Rich, this issue of Field largely favors works by established poets, including Carl Phillips, Marilyn Hacker, David Hernandez, Pattiann Rogers, and David Wojahn. Yet a few emerging poets, such as Megan Synder-Camp and Amit Majmudar, the later a writer of ghazals, have also been given a welcome voice, and translations of poems by Li Qingzhao, Uwe Kolbe, and Amina Saïd give the issue an international flavor as well.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In the first issue of Fifth Wednesday Journal, publisher and editor Vern Miller provides a brief explanation for the origin and purpose of creating this new literary magazine. Established as an extension of a group of “literary pilgrims,” known as the Fifth Wednesday Writers, Fifth Wednesday Journal’s primary purpose is to reflect “a wide spectrum of styles,” and will therefore institute a rotating series of guest editors who will have “maximum latitude” in their editorial choices. The journal hopes to encourage both well established and new writers by reading submissions “blind.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This magazine hasn’t been reviewed before on NewPages, so remember that you heard it from me: Free State Review is great. It’s a pleasure to look at, hold, and read, and the writing is as fresh and consequential as a sun-drenched, below-zero day. Nobody’s just messing around. Even the contributors’ notes are little works of art.
  • Subtitle Belfast Imagined
  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Edited by Megan Sexton and David Bottoms, this issue of Five Points explores literature as well as audio inspired by the theme “Belfast Imagined.” Work includes an interview with novelist Glen Patterson (which is also available on the journal’s website); photography comprising a series entitled “Flash Points”; a companion 19-track, 78+ minute CD; two essays; fiction; and poetry by Medbh McGuckian, Ciarán Carson, Leontia Flynn, Howard Wright, and Alan Gillis, whose poem “Down Through the Dark and Emptying Streets” begins the issue:
  • Issue Number Issue 30
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This lit mag is classier than its somewhat obscene name. The writing generally is clear and of high quality, the website is well laid out, and each story or poem is accompanied by engagingly colorful artwork. There is a certain in-your-face irreverence to many of the stories, but they are also entertaining as a whole. Frigg often presents two or three pieces of flash fiction by the same author – unusual in the universe of online literature today.
  • Issue Number Volume 7
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
For this issue, the overall theme can be summed up in T. Allen Culpepper’s poem “My Life Is Not a Very Good Poem,” which starts, “My life seldom rhymes / (or reasons either, for that matter).” The genres in this issue are nicely mixed up in the ordering, and the result is an elegant, ever-changing reading experience.
  • Issue Number Volume 23 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This magazine’s name was recently changed from The Flagler Review (which is now its subtitle) to FLARE, and the content of this issue sparkles in ways that justify the title. In addition to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art, FLARE includes screenplays/plays as a regular feature.
  • Issue Number Volume 14 Number 3
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This issue of the internationally-renown literary journal is dedicated in memory to Virginia Spencer Carr who had passed in April of this year. Dr. Carr left a brimming trove of literary scholarship in her decades as a writer, researcher and professor, including what is considered her masterpiece biography: “The Lonely Hunter,” about Carson McCullers who was often critically classified as a Southern Realist. McCullers, Carr, and this journal share an affiliation—formal or otherwise—with the American South, including but not limited to Georgia State University, which sponsors Five Points, and where Dr. Carr taught for over two decades.
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The journal’s first-ever special issue is a “Native Issue,” with contributions by writers “from many different places—tribal, geographic, aesthetic,” including writers who grew up in the Laguna Pueblo, and members of the Diné, Mi’kmaq Métis, Cherokee, Kanien ‘kehaka, Onodowaga, Yappituka Comanche/Southern Araphaho, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Arkansas Quapaw, Poarch Creek/Muscogee, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Oglala Lakota, Seneca, Sioux, Acoma Pueblo, Apache, and Chicasaw tribes and nations. These writers’ work is as distinct and diverse as the communities and nations into which they were born and/or have lived.
  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
An ornate frame graces the cover of the Fairy Tale Review, now in its third issue. Inside the frame, a stark grey-and-white etched oval that opens a space in the violet background where a cloaked woman embraces a cloaked child. Both rise from the supine body of a menacing creature – a wolf? – who lies on his back as if dead, but whose open eyes and waving limbs suggest otherwise. “Violet,” editor Kate Bernheimer writes, can be misread as “violent,” and, as the cover image and this mistake-in-waiting suggest, fairy tales traffic in this tension.
  • Issue Number Volume 18 Number 1
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fourteen Hills, staffed by graduate students of San Francisco State University, publishes “a diversity of experimental and progressive work by emerging and cross-genre writers, as well as by award-winning and established authors.” The journal claims that because it is independent, “its aesthetic is dynamic and fluid, ever changing to meet the needs of the culture and the historical moment as the staff perceive them.” It is a well-bound book, a nicely-edited artifact with a fabulous cover by John Masterson (is it a “real” photograph or a digitally enhanced one? I think the latter but I can’t be sure; it’s of a nine-point buck standing among the detritus of an overturned garbage can in a blue and silver winterscape), but I found the writing in it uneven, and not always to my taste. As the website makes clear, 14H does not aspire to extend the tradition of canonical literature in English or to demonstrate a high-minded cultural or theoretically-grounded aesthetic. Reviewers before me have lauded it for its diversity and spontaneity.
  • Issue Number Number 86
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In Dana Gioia’s essay, “Can Poetry Matter?” published in May 1991 in The Atlantic Monthly, Gioia offers a prescription for poetry that includes writing prose about poetry more often. He observed that poetry as an art form had been partitioned within the wider culture. I quote his essay’s final paragraph here:
  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2004
This refreshingly energetic and well-produced journal from San Francisco State University may have a confusing table of contents, but once you find yourself between the covers, you won’t want to leave. The content is just as colorful - and at times as jumbled - as the image on this issue’s cover, “Cityscape” by Chris Johanson; this is a lighthearted romp rather than a doleful stroll through the works of the writers.
  • Issue Number Number 252
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
There are enough apt images in this magazine to build a new world whole. In three of its quarterly issues, The Fiddlehead publishes short fiction: not here. Here you’ll find reviews of Canadian literature, as is usual in the journal, but then in addition, purely poetry—enough to populate your mind with figures and tropes and patterns of sound until winter comes to call. The Fiddlehead (a reference to a fern unfolding) is, according to its website, “a veritable institution of literary culture in Canada.” Published in New Brunswick for over 65 years, it is “a regional magazine with a national and international reputation.” Especially if contemporary poetry interests you, it’s easy, in this issue, to see why.
  • Issue Number Number 3
  • Published Date 2011
Fractured West is a new, innovative journal for flash fiction. Although sponsored in part by a grant from Creative Scotland, it features writers from all over. Fractured West’s editor says, “We want readers to see things in a different way. For this, we need writers who write things in a different way,” and the intricate, precise prose found in this sleight journal, in a pocket-sized, compact format, proves that they have found writers who present different delight after different delight.
  • Subtitle Autobiographies
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Four-Hundred Words is a CD sized lit journal filled with 66 different 400-word autobiographies on the theme of…life. Though the editor, Katherine Sharpe, claims the first issue grew out of “that weird time right after college, the time of looking around and wondering how the world works and how people find, and understand, their place in it,” the array of contributors ranges in age from a 72-year-old physicist to a 15-year-old Taiwanese woman who expresses herself in exclamations, “She’s so URGH!!”
  • Issue Number Number 224
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Fiddlehead may very well be the single best in-door for those with a mind to explore the finest of Canadian creative writing. This “Summer Fiction” issue is a wellspring particularly for anybody seeking the multifarious pleasures that original and adventurous short stories can provide. Published out of Fredericton, New Brunswick, The Fiddlehead, as the brief editor’s note asserts, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, “which makes The Paris Review at fifty seem a veritable pup.”
  • Issue Number The Blue Issue
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Charming and adventurous, this new annual journal displays impressive wit and eclecticism. Right away you know Fairy Tale Review will be a different sort of literary magazine from its multiple visual references to Andrew Lang’s Fairy Book Collection, (a series of books listed by color, the Red Fairy Book, the Olive Fairy Book, etc.)
  • Issue Number Volume 8 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring/Fall 2003
Flyway is one of those literary magazines that you wish the better financed, sleeker, but ultimately less earnest journals would try harder to imitate.
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  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
FictionNow’s Summer 2013 issue boasts the stories of three writers: Henry W. Leung, Sarah McElwain, and Richard Smolev.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 3
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
The Fiddleback editors say that their mission is cross pollination; “We believe in mixing and colliding artistic disciplines to attract a diverse readership and promoting work that asserts itself.”
Fox Chase Review covers a wide range of poetry in which there is probably a poem for every one of us. While I didn’t love all of it, there were certainly several poems and poets in this issue that I loved. Stevie Edwards contributes two poems that really hit me in the gut. First is “What I Can Say I’ve Left, What I’ve Mourned”:
  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
After creating controversy with the (some say) pornographic cover of their summer issue, Fence is back with a fine selection of fiction, poetry, and art. Everything about the magazine radiates “coolness,” from the idiosyncratic (and slightly creepy) art of John Lurie, to the experimental poetry, and quirky fiction.
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  • Issue Number Volume 23 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Freefall bills itself as “Canada’s Magazine of Exquisite Writing.” Their mission statement commits to publishing 85% Canadian content, ranging from new and emerging to experienced writers. The editor’s opening statement, written by Micheline Maylor, describes an opposition to demolishing Al Purdy’s A-frame house, asking: “If muscle has the ability to remember, then why not a wall, a house, a landscape?” Her preamble continues, “For what is this life without a little magic?” and sets the tone for the creative work that follows.
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Feminist Studies, a glossy, intellectual journal that balances its essays on research and theory with literary fiction, poetry, and art, manages again to spark interest in its intelligent, clearly written essays—this time, my favorite essays were on a post-post structuralist approach to feminism in Simone de Beauvoir’s writings by Sonia Kruks and a study of beauty pageants relations to college life by Karen W. Tice.
  • Issue Number Number 83
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Bruce Weigl, Annie Finch, Steve and Stuart Friebert, David Young, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Carole Simmons Oles, and Stephen Tapscott contribute to “A Symposium” on poet Richard Wilbur, in anticipation of his 90th birthday, with essays responding to particular Wilbur poems, reprinted here. These thoughtful essays of close reading, and Wilbur’s “consistently brilliant” poetry (as aptly categorized in the editors’ introduction), are well accompanied by new work from David Dodd Lee, David Wagoner, Elton Glaser, Jon Loomis, Kimiko Hahn, and Sandra McPherson, among others.
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Feile and festa mean “festival” in Irish and Italian, and indeed there are many pieces in this journal from the Mediterranean Celtic Cultural Association worth celebrating. Much of the work explores the effects of Irish and Italian diaspora in the United States, particularly New York City.
  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This handsome journal is clothed in Lee Etheredge IV's type on photograph cover. Readers are directed to "Some Words About the Images," where they encounter his shape poem, declaring: "i am not a poet." Etheredge is a visual artist, who utilizes drawings produced by a standard typewriter. The final piece featured is utterly unique. This artist succeeds easily in engaging brain, eye, and heart.
  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring/Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue’s cover, graced by a cool-toned color photo of a flooded home on a river in South Dakota, is intriguing, and the writing inside eclectic. Perusing an issue of Flyway is like attending a series of author readings; each story, essay, or poem is followed by an author’s note that lets you in on what inspired the writer to write the piece, or what the work means to him or her.
  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In a preemptory explanatory note, Fence’s editor seems slightly apologetic – and certainly nostalgic – as the magazine’s move from its New York City birthplace to the suburbs is explained. It may seem shocking that any journal as cosmopolitan as Fence was willing to migrate at all. Occasional bouts of realism may provide inroads into the altering psyche of the editors: they both mention children.
  • Issue Number Number 80
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
There are stars aplenty in this issue devoted entirely to poetry and poetics: D. Nurske, Kevin Prufer, David Wagoner, Elton Glaser, Thomas Lux, G.C. Waldrep, Bruce Weigl, David St. John, Carl Phillips, Laura Kasischke, Franz Wright, Eric Pankey, David Hernandez, Jean Valentine, Alice Friman, Timothy Liu, Charles Wright, among others. And their work is, well, stellar. But there are equally bright and lesser-known voices on the horizon, too (many also quite accomplished and widely published), and I’d like to spotlight their contributions to this fine issue, beginning with moonlight and Melissa Kwasny’s prose poem “The City of Many Lovers.” “Moon that strikes on the downbeat,” she writes, and its Kwasny’s rhythms that are, indeed, most striking: “Lunedi. Martedi. Mercoldi. It’s moon-day.” And so she begins a poetic narrative that manages to tell a large story that unfolds in a small moment in one short lyric paragraph; it’s a perfect little model of prose poetry.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fact-Simile, a young, independent literary journal published out of Colorado, looks more like an unremarkable neighborhood newsletter than a magazine dedicated to “push[ing] the envelope of polite society.” In fact, next to other widely circulated contemporary journals, it appears downright prosaic – an aesthetic yawn. But its homespun look belies its content. Fact-Simile offers interviews with authors, reviews of plays and short stories, and a healthy sampling of poetry representing all genres. It is professionally edited and well composed.
  • Issue Number Number 232
  • Published Date Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“It makes me mad,” writes Mark Jarman, fiction editor of The Fiddlehead. “The story has such a great tradition and it’s being turfed as if it’s a regrettable hairstyle.”
  • Subtitle A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, and Light Industrial Safety
  • Issue Number Number 16
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I have carried Forklift, Ohio on my person at all times for the last month. Aside from revealing that I’m a nerd, this also indicates that Forklift is the perfect accessory for any engagement (poetry is this season’s trendy clutch). It’s dense (70 poems in 146 pages), and fantastic for show and tell with like-minded nerdy writer-types.
  • Issue Number Number 30
  • Published Date Winter 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fugue is one of the journals I turn to when I'm in the mood for something reliable and satisfying. I know I'll want to read the whole issue, that I won't be confused about the editors' choices, that I'll find writers whose work I've enjoyed before and a few I'm happy to encounter for the first time. The work is always solid, readable, and pleasurable. This issue is no exception.
  • Issue Number Number 245
  • Published Date Autumn 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue opens with a moving tribute to and a series of poems by widely published poet and former Fiddlehead editor Bill Bauer (1932-2010). Bauer was a Maine native and long-time resident of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, where the journal is published. It’s hard not to tear up on reading his first title here, “If I Don’t Tell You, No One Else Will; or, How Lucky You Are To Have Your Whole Lives Before You.” Lucky, too, to have a journal as pleasurable—and as enduring, the journal is in its sixty-fifth year—as Fiddlehead. Bauer is joined by 25 accomplished poets and fiction writers and a half-dozen smart book reviewers. This issue’s cover, too, deserves mention, a beautiful muted watercolor of seashells in a silver bowl by Fredericton native Andrew Henderson.
  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fourth Genre is the cacophony of reality sifted through arcs of narrative. Each issue raises the bar of representing reality, because it gives a new slice of it to the reader. Good fiction aches for verisimilitude or its opposite, and this issue of Fourth Genre proves that the rules are applicable to both life and the “unreal” life of fiction. This issue contains the editors' prize winning essays, Nedra Rogers's first place winner “Mammalian” and Casey Fleming's runner-up piece “Take Me with You.” “Mammalian” begins with bodily concerns and ends with a flourish of quotes, including Erich Fromm's famous: “Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.” A fixation on the concept of physical self pervades many of the creative nonfiction pieces in the issue. “Alone in Amsterdam” by P.M. Marxsen begins with a quaint conversation between the characters of a painting and its attendant observer, a woman “alone in Amsterdam.” Rebecca J. Butorac's “A Self-Portrait of a Woman Who Hates Cameras” has a body-oriented narrative interspersed with pictures of her feet, shoes, and the various personalities of the combinations possible therein. Susan Messer's great story, “Regrets Only,” focuses on the need for a group of people to get away from their troubled friend. The narrative shakes the reader out of lethargy and then further into shock. The reader begins to think, “Is trouble contagious?”
  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
At 170 pages, The Florida Review provides a little something for everyone: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, comics, and book reviews. Some stand-out pieces include poems by Denise Duhamel (“Spoon” and “A Flower of Fish”), and an interview with poet Peter Meinke, who talks about his love for Donne’s “mixture of wit, formalism, and passion.”
  • Issue Number Number 81
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The most recent issue of Field, Oberlin College Press’s magazine of poetry, begins with a symposium on Phillip Levine’s work, including some of his most famous poems, like “Animals are Passing From Our Lives,” along with short essays analyzing each. Even those readers who are not interested in the analysis of poetry will find the poems themselves excellent. The strength of this issue, however, is in the original contributions, many of which take inspiration from nature and are full of references to wolves, foxes and various birds, including ravens, crows and swans.
  • Issue Number Issue 39
  • Published Date Summer-Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fugue is one of my favorite journals. There is always something exciting, inventive, original, and unexpected; something that reinforces my confidence in the state of American literature; something I am grateful to have encountered; something special in the best and truest sense of the word. In this issue, this includes prize-winning fiction from Colette Sartor and Paul Vidich; poetry from Margarita Delcheva, Bryan Narendorf, and Patty Crane, among others; fiction from Luther Magnussen and Heather Jacobs, among others; nonfiction from Sarah Fawn Montgomery, David Shields, and David McGlynn; and interview by Steve Heim with George Saunders; and an “Experiment” by Kevin Sampsell, “This is Between Us.”
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I know that I’m not the ideal reader for journals that feature art. I usually don’t pay attention as I should, and consider the pieces selected as speed bumps. In this aspect, the art in Front Range isn’t exceptional, but it has been selected with an informed eye to complement the text. The journal’s words, however, are satisfying and, dare I say, practical.
  • Issue Number Number 246
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Fiddlehead has been a Canadian literary delight since 1945, when it began as the mimeographed paper-child of The Bliss Carman Poetry Society. Published quarterly by the University of New Brunswick, this treasure is an eclectic journal. I relished five stories and was enthralled with deliciously crafted writing from fifteen poets.
  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fifth Wednesday Journal provides readers a wide selection of fiction and poetry, as well as photography and a nonfiction essay. The journal’s goal, “Defining literature. In real context.” is achieved in this issue by examining people in a variety of places and situations. Featured poet, Michael Van Walleghen, creates colorful and almost tangible images of different stages of his life. “The Golgotha Fun Park” reads,
  • Subtitle Contemporary Poetry and Poetics
  • Issue Number Number 72
  • Published Date Spring 2005
Field: (f?ld) n. any wide, unbroken expanse; in this case, one of terrific poetry. But longtime readers of the venerable journal, in publication since the 60's, won’t find that news revelatory. As usual, there’s much here to be praised, with new work by notables such as Pattiann Rogers, Marianne Boruch, Dennis Schmitz and Sandra McPherson.
  • Issue Number Volume 7 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Incipit: “Having little to his name when he died, the reading of Henry Fromm’s will went quickly.” I’m willing to overlook the dangling modifier in this issue’s first line (though many outraged “writers” did not, say the editors) because, after all, it’s the end product that counts: seven short stories and even a poem, all beginning with this opening sentence.
  • Image Image
  • Issue Number Volume 46
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The journal Fiction International provokes fantastic response in its “Real Time / Virtual” edition. On the one hand, the crime fantasy of Michael Hemmingson’s “Tranquility” evokes Kafka in an astute commentary of family law in American jurisprudence: it presents content (the nature of freedom) and framework (idea of cyber-cognitive implementation of punishment). On the other hand, Robert Hamburger’s “The Michelangelo Massacre” is too convincing to be of the fantasy genre, but it is fantastic in the second sense of the word—superlative. The journal is uniformly excellent in its focus and quality of execution and exemplifies its mission to marry formal innovation and social activism.
  • Issue Number Volume 12 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Never on the fence, this journal is persistently – almost relentlessly – inventive, provocative, and unconventional. Not shocking. Not wildly unreadable. But certainly dogged in its desire to startle me out of complacency. “You find a little sick cognition,” begins “Gay Trade,” a poem by Sean Kilpatrick. “Lately my hand is an alligator,” opens James Gendron’s prose poem, “Number One Country.” And here is the beginning of “How to Make Something Funny of Something Serious into a Funny Joke and Then Back Again into Something Serious,” a short story by Colin Bassett:
  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date July 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
This is a difficult review to write for two reasons: 1) Much of the content found in this quarterly defies easy description and interpretation; 2) They are closing their operation as of October 1. Nonetheless, it is such a well organized and interesting website, a somewhat belated review is better than no review at all.
  • Subtitle A Magazine of New Writing
  • Published Date 2003
What to say about this journal? There’s so much to like among the fiction, from Lucy Bucknell’s Kafkaesque “Vanishing Act” to Sean Mclain Brown’s exquisite short shorts. And Carol Moldaw’s sequential poem “Anastylosis” is a joy to read.
  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Fifth Wednesday journal explores “the idea that contemporary literary and photographic arts are essential components of a vibrant and enduring culture.” This commitment to a “vibrant, enduring culture” is, in other words, a contemporary milieu of writing that allows the reader to explore fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, interview, and book reviews bound together under the auspices of Fifth Wednesday’s commitment to contemporary writing. This issue is like an abstract tapestry collage of stories and poems that—at first glance—seem to have very little that weaves the pieces together. On second glance, you realize it comes together simply by being interesting and vibrant.
  • Issue Number Number 44
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of Fiction International welcomes “deformity in all of its guises,” a description pulled from James Carpenter’s story “Extravagant Meanings.” In this story, a writer looking for literary fodder starts a shelter for troubled souls. He describes his “house of freaks,” as I’d describe what you’ll find in this issue of FI: “The physically infirm, the congenitally twisted, the morbidly obese and the anorexic and the bulimic, the mentally ill and mentally handicapped, the morally confused, the addicted.” It’s intense reading, to say the least. The plots are fast-paced and adventurous, and many of the stories’ lasting impressions are, on a human level, unsettling. It is also one of the more formally challenging and innovative journals I’ve read in a long time.
  • Issue Number Volume 16 Number 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fourteen Hills spans the spectrum of creative writing, producing an exciting and vivid cross-section of contemporary writing. Alison Doernberg’s rich and textured poem “(Save)” kicks off the issue, with “everything / suspended in ink, and everything that is not” an apt description of the content that follows.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Forge is a short, one hundred-plus-page journal, small in size but not in impact. It chose as its cover theme “little people opening things.” The picture on the pale, yellow, glossy cover depicts black stick-like figures pushing open two huge doors that dwarf the little anonymous people, making a 1984-esque look. Forge is actually quite whimsical in places, very modern in its approach and material, and frequently rather dark.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Though not planned as a themed issue, Editor Michael W. Pollock claims “Dysfunction” took hold in tying this collection together. Admittedly, the theme didn’t stick with me, as I found each work unique in its own right, the strength of this journal being the variety of the prose selections.
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