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  • Issue Number Volume 18 Number 6
  • Published Date Open Issue 2016
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly

In the 2016 Open Issue, Iron Horse Literary Review opens its doors to two new types of writing: translation and graphic literature. It's the graphic piece that opens this issue which ultimately grabbed my eye and ushered me in to the rest of the work.

  • Issue Number Issue 3 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2005
isotope, a journal of literary nature and science writing, published by Utah State University, boasts an impressive selection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, in addition to a striking, full color portfolio of artwork by Richard Gate. This issue includes the winners of the first annual Editors’ Prizes: “Consumption,” a remarkable essay by Sunshine O’Donnell, and a suite of poems by Thomas Joswick that examine the life and art of John James Audubon. My favorite of Joswick’s poems is “Audubon Anticipates Dawn and Blood”: “Before sunrise, from scratching grounds, / where males assemble to strut and boom, / you may hear their rumpled notes, / followed, at times, by rapid / and petulant cackling, / like laughter.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Beautifully produced, Indiana Review has fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and in this issue, something called “Special Folio: Graphic Memoir.” With seven contributors, the Special Folio has the look of a comic book. Bianca Stone has two watercolors that resemble greeting cards.
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  • Issue Number Volume 45 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The Iowa Review encompasses texts of the America we assume we know—strong and prideful. Yet, I read about an America whose citizens felt a series of words not synonymous with “strong” or “prideful,” but with “confused” and “defeated.” These American writers (or are they? as some questioned) trudged through turmoil on both native and foreign soil, both within themselves and with the world to compose these words that form a nation of misidentification.
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  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Isthmus is a biannual publication of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry out of Seattle, Washington. All of the contributors to the 2014 Fall/Winter issue are well-published established writers who have created a commendable body of work, both individually and, here, collectively. At 100 pages, the journal makes for a compact and easy experience, readily providing many moments of enjoyment.
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  • Issue Number Number 81
  • Published Date Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
There’s much to be grateful for in this issue of Image. Always intellectual, visual, and spiritually beautiful, now in its twenty-fifth year, Image has a well-deserved reputation for hopeful, but realistic, attention to the intersection of “the larger questions of existence. . . [and] what the poet Albert Goldbarth calls the ‘greasy doorknobs and salty tearducts’ of our everyday lives.” Image is more than a journal—it’s also a set of programs to further the cause of such attention. The theme for this silver anniversary is “Making It New.” This issue fulfills this mission with grace; gratitude, as a response, is entirely appropriate.
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  • Issue Number Volume 44 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

Iowa is often considered a fabled place in the world of American letters, and The Iowa Review lives up to the expectations that such a powerful name bestows. The journal has been publishing some of the country’s finest authors since 1970, and in 2014 it’s still incredibly strong.

This issue, the first with Editor Harilaos Stecopoulos at the helm, includes poetry, fiction, essays, and artwork, all consistent with the journal’s previous issues. The issue also includes two interviews and two reviews, both new features, as well as a pairing of three Amber Tamblyn poems with images by, among others, filmmaker and painter David Lynch.

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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This 15th Anniversary Issue of Iodine Poetry Journal is a collection of unassuming poems by talented writers. The poems are deceptively simple, written with an ease that belies their metaphoric skill. Each poem imagines a story, a picture, a memory, a season, a way of thinking or living, encapsulated in lines of distilled thought that somehow feel like one collective voice of humanity speaking for itself.
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of the Indiana Review is about one thing: really good reading. An enormous number of very fine poems, seven strong stories, and a handful of well-written and often entertaining book reviews. Poems with special appeal for their careful, poetic (in the best sense of heightened, yet never arch or stiff) or particularly memorable language, and original and never purely self-serving imagery, like poetry contest winner Pilar Gómez-Ibañez (“Losing Bedrock Farm”) who has huge success with Richard Hugo’s inspiring advice “Think Small”; Joanna Klink (“Greenest”) who retrieves many overused and over burdened poetry favorites (rain, stars) from the dead metaphor heap; and Wayne Miller, whose poem in the form of a poetic letter to Auden is striking in its economy and restraint, which results in overwhelming in emotional power:
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The newest issue of the Indiana Review is heavy with pointed, skilled, beautifully subtle writing. The poems sit in the hand, the lines and images spilling through cupped fingers. The prose fills the room and exits without apology. Two outstanding pieces, “When My Father Was in Prison” by Hadley Moore and “Loblolly Pine in a Field of Hollyhocks” by Vievee Francis, demonstrate the withdrawn but commanding presence of the work in this issue.
Those of you who open up your copy of Indiana Review expecting a regional, Midwestern flavor are going to be in for a surprise. Many of the pieces in this sophisticated collection of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and reviews have a sharp, dark (dare I say cosmopolitan?) edge and a wicked sense of humor. For instance, the short story “In Bogalusa” by Paul Maliszewski conjures a reclusive Dorothy Parker who entombs herself in a Days Inn in rural Louisiana. Poems like “Jesus at the Help Desk” by Dana Roeser and the 2003 Indiana Review Poetry Prize award-winner, Maria McLeod’s “Regarding the Character you named Maria, teacher’s notes” use irreverent references in an intelligent way. There were also quite a few short-short pieces that walk the line between prose and poetry, among them the piece by Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis with the great title, “Manifesto of the Over Mitt:”
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 6
  • Published Date December 2009
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Shannon Canning’s bold, yet intricate painting of a revolver, “Balance of Power,” sets the tone for this “Open Issue” of the magazine – works with bullet-like precision that are also foreboding or dark or solemn. Like Canning’s close-up of the gun handle, they reference danger, without being dangerous, and they intrigue us because they dazzle (the gun is quite beautiful), but their beauty is derived from their darkness.
More alternative than academic, InkPot is a literary and art magazine of distinct voices, and few of them sound like creative writing instructors. Many pieces in this issue zero in on relationships, romantic and familial. Infidelities, love triangles, and stubborn family members all get their due.
  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 1
  • Published Date February 2009
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Contributors’ notes in Iron Horse Literary Review include writers’ remarks about the genesis of their piece or comments to contextualize the work. “2009 Discovered Voices Award for Nonfiction” winner Lara Burton says she wanted to write an essay in the “classical style.” If by this she means well-researched, linking personal opinion or experiences to larger concerns and investigations, leaving the reader with information she most likely did not possess prior to reading the piece, and a traditional or conventional narrative shape, she has certainly accomplished her goal. More importantly, she has written an exemplary essay, beautifully composed, interesting, original, and enjoyable to read. In other words, a classic. “On deserts, loneliness, and handshakes” is about all three of these seemingly unrelated entities and their very seemly relationship. The prose is natural, but deliberate; the essay’s pace is perfectly orchestrated; and Burton arrives at a smart, satisfying conclusion.
  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The quality, skill, and star power you expect from Indiana Review – it’s all here. The range of voices and approaches (Denise Duhamel, Fady Joudah, Joy Katz) – that, too. And Bob Hicok, who is these days (or was it always?), it seems, everywhere. The issue’s special feature is “Blue,” which opens with wonderful paintings by Armando Meriño, one blue in obvious ways, the other less so, which is true as well of the literary works included in the feature.
  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
In May and June of 2008, The Cedar River, after days of torrential rain, broke through its restraints, and the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was suddenly plunged into a flood, destroying the city and displacing most of its inhabitants. The memory of this event permeates the pages of this edition of the Iowa review, and the journal cannot be read without feeling the loss that these people, and these writers, felt. So deep was their loss, and their shock, that stories and poems about the river fill each and every page, with nostalgia, sadness and anger. All manner of emotion can be found within The Iowa Review’s pages.
  • Issue Number Volume 34
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This edition of inscape finds loss of every sort within its pages. Each piece is different, naturally, but the element of emptiness seems to touch each poem, each story, in this journal. The first I’ll give a glimpse of is Brian Brown’s “History of Time”:
  • Subtitle Collaboration/Collage
  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2005
There is even a collaborative review of a collaborative book in this fascinating issue of work conceived and produced in collaboration (Mary Austin Speaker and Sara Jane Stoner review Phoebe 2002.
  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It’s the fifth anniversary for this Charlotte magazine and the focus is simple: less talk, more poems. For one thing, that means no contributors’ notes: after you close the book, you’re on your own. At least one contributor who needs no such notes is R.T. Smith, from whom “Parade at VMI” is a breath of wisdom. Smith meddles in war and history but settles for no easy targets: his model is a bridge at Antietam Creek whose erection proved to be unnecessary during the bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War.
  • Issue Number Volume 10
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This tenth anniversary issue opens with founding editor Mitch Wieland’s summary, among other remarks, of one marker of his journal’s success: from the first nine issues, nine stories or poems were reprinted in major awards anthologies (best ofs, etc.), another 15 stories were short-listed for these prizes. The Editor’s Note is followed by tributes from more 19 writers to the late Carol Houck Smith, editor at W.W. Norton & Company for 60 years. Maxine Kumin writes that Houck Smith was “everything an editor should be: compassionate, demanding, supportive, and seldom wrong.” Joan Silber remembers that she “loved her writers and she loved her city.” Charles Baxter praises Houck Smith’s worldliness, something he considers essential in a “fine editor.”
  • Issue Number Number 1.2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2003
Bone by bone the skeletons of nature and science are picked, rattled, and pieced together to flesh human in isotope.
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  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I cannot remember when I have ever made reading poetry in translation part of my reading habits, but after the experience of reading this issue of International Poetry Review, I am humbled and convinced that I have been missing out on unique and profound experiences with poems that are significant and at times transcendent.
  • Issue Number Volume 12 Number 5
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Good things do come in small packages. I’d rather read 47 terrific pages (a small journal by most measures) than two or three times that many mediocre ones. This fine, slender issue includes nonfiction from Kevin Kerrane (a favorite of editor Leslie Jill Patterson’s) and Gary Fincke; poetry from Mathew Thorburn (another of Patterson’s favorites, she says), Marie Gauthier, Liz Kay, Fritz Ward, Emily Symonds, Jim Daniels, and Andrew Kozma; and fiction from Amy Knox Brown.
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Indiana Review is not a nicey-nicey publication. A fair amount of the content, while high quality, exhibits an “edgy” quality, as in it won’t-put-one-to-sleep, or make one sigh. It won’t give warm-fuzzies, or make one feel like cuddling up in a big chair with hot chocolate. What it will do is remind one of the hazards of existence and the unsettling realities of life in a vivid and entertaining manner.
  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The best way to describe this issue is rich – there is a simply a lot here to take in: a short play, a graphic short story/essay, a portfolio of poems by international poets (Writers in Residence in the writing program at Iowa), short fiction, poems, reviews, and several short prose pieces that might straddle the literary space between fiction and nonfiction (they are not labeled and might easily be construed as one or the other). Lyn Lifshin’s “April, Paris,” is representative, at least in terms of tone, of much of the work in this issue: “Nothing would be less shall we call it what it is, a cliché / than April in Paris. But this poem got started with some / thing I don’t think I could do but it reminded me of / Aprils and then three magazines came with Paris / on the cover.” The “message,” here too, is not a bad summary of the issue’s overall impact: things probably look more like April in Paris than they actually are, just keep reading and you’ll see what I mean.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date November 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Imitation Fruit welcomes you to the site with a number of googley-eyed fruit. Without a real aesthetic declared, it is hard to tell what the magazine is looking for without doing some reading first. And what I found is that it appears to be more about story, more about the message, than the style or bravado of the writing.
  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Several of the poets included in this survey of “Voices in German” were familiar to me. The Expressionist Ernst Stadler, killed in battle in World War I, is represented by three evocative landscapes translated by Martin Sheehan and William Wright. Gertrud Kolmar, who disappeared in the Holocaust, mourns a child “(n)ot born because of my sins.” Her moving poem “Fruitless” is translated by Sandra Dillon.
  • Issue Number Number 21
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Inkwell contains a batch of strong short stories, many of which focus on the female psyche. Besides a couple lapses into a male’s perspective in the opening story by Alethea Black, Peter Selggin’s novel excerpt and Anthony Roesch’s “Two Good Dogs,” the remainder of the stories are told about females or from a female’s point of view. These stories are not necessarily feminist; many simply deal with problems often attributed as “female issues”: Kathryn Henion’s “Translating Silence” with jealously; Amy Ralston Seife’s “What We Do” with depression; Edward Kelsey Moore’s “Ruth and the Beer” and Susi Klare’s “Cosmo” with unhealthy attachment; and Melissa Palladino’s “Spring Cleaning” with guilt (among other issues).
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  • Issue Number Volume 7
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“For me the main motivator in my practice is, quite simply, communication—and a communication that is as unambiguous as possible. I am not looking for novelty but a straightforward way to express an essence or idea, which I hope will be accessible to most people,” writes Jim Maginn in “Modus Operandi,” a sort of afterword to his photographs of traditional Irish musicians printed in this issue of Irish Pages. Maginn apprentices himself to “the humanist tradition,” where photography is “a continuing and compassionate engagement with people.” That just about sums up this issue of the journal for me; only just about, because I would add that it is also a gorgeous experience.
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  • Issue Number Volume 43 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
American soldiers maintain a fine tradition that is far removed from the work they do abroad: they create great literature that helps the rest of us understand the true nature of the battles fought on our behalf. Kurt Vonnegut helps us understand World War II in the European theater, and Tim O’Brien offers the rest of us a visceral account of how it felt to be an American soldier in My Lai only months after the massacre. This issue of The Iowa Review spotlights the work of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online
This issue of inter|rupture certainly had me lost in the words. With each author’s work, I anticipated something fresh, and I wasn’t disappointed. The imagery in this issue is what has lingered with me, long after I finished reading. I was haunted (in a fantastic and exhilarating way) by the imagery in Peter Jay Shippy’s “Last Requests” in which the narrator doles out a list of strange requests for the body the narrator will leave behind:
  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The cover of the Winter 2007 edition of the Indiana Review, painted by Sally Harless, features a moose and a boy in a moose suit staring at each other. This artwork captures two of the themes that are shrewdly explored in this issue: childhood and identity.
I don’t know what mainstream literature is, but after reading Iconoclast #94, I know what it isn’t. “…whores never fare as well once the rumor gets around they thinking on starting a family. Customers tend to get nervous—and absent,” Laura Payne Butler writes in “Only Horses Run Wild in Clouds.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 13
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of The Idaho Review is a gem; it begins in glory and the energy never sags. From its whimsically sinister cover (Bill Carmen’s fabulist The Earialist), through its parchment endpapers and beautiful inner design, this issue bountifully rewards the reader’s full attention.
  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
A terrific redesign to kick off the journal’s 40th year. I love the new look and feel (decidedly less stodgy; easier to hold and read; appealing new shape, beautiful cover and page layouts). Prose – seven stories and five essays – is what held my attention most vividly in this volume, beginning with Elizabeth Benjamin’s beautifully composed prose in “Scarce Lit Sea” (“A year after he said see you soon out the window of his truck, he returned to me, in the night as he had always come, either by water, his boat striking the sharp brown rocks, or on foot, whistling bird calls from the trail.”). Stories by Karl Harshbarger, Whitney Ray, Sarah Colvert, Amma Gautier, Ben Fountain, and Kirsten Clodfelter couldn’t be more different from Benjamin’s, or from each other, but all are solid and satisfying in different ways and for different reasons, making the short fiction in this issue especially appealing.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Susan McCarty’s short fiction “Another Zombie Story,” in this issue of Indiana Review provides a flash of imagination that affirms hope in the midst of disaster. In ten linked thematic sections that are at times funny or ominous (but always insightful and compelling), the narrative warbles on a mysterious landscape, plays upon a portfolio of expectations and emerges resilient as the main character discovers love (and garden vegetables) against a backdrop of loss and instability. It is tightly drawn, lovely against an imagined—but all too real—wasteland. And isn’t darkly dramatic like other literary depictions of a wasteland: it rejects the nihilism that would characterize a wasteland; it teases along those shorelines and splashes right out of the water with a musical laughter you can hear through the pages.
  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“To be valued more for the ethnicity I was seen to represent, rather than for what I could contribute as an individual, struck me as more than a little embarrassing, particularly since I felt myself to be hardly representative of any group that I could think of,” writes Mark Smith-Soto in his “Editor’s Note,” an essay exploring the difference between the terms “Hispanic” (more inclusive) and “Latino” (predominance of English with “overflow of Spanish,” among other distinctions.) While Smith-Soto’s essay is in no manner didactic, I read his remarks as cautionary and approached this collection of 16 “Hispanic and Latino” poets as I would any “uncategorized” and eclectic group of writers.
  • Issue Number Volume 4 Number 2
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“You . . . realise that many poems are well-enough written to be publishable – and yet they don’t excite. They do not cause the hair on the back of the neck to stand up. The editorial heart doesn’t stop, nor breath shorten. The language is inert, the subjects are boring. Poets can often seem to be working a narrow little seam of private experience.” I wish this weren’t the case on this side of the Atlantic, as well, but what Peter Sirr laments here of the state of poetry in Ireland is all too often true in the US, as well. But, thank goodness for this excerpt “This is Not an Editorial,” from Sirr’s essay in the bi-monthly newsletter, Poetry Ireland, and for the other marvelous excerpts of speeches and exquisite essays and poems in Irish Pages. The work here does excite, does take away one’s breath and renew one’s confidence in the state of the written word in English (and in Irish). This issue’s theme is “The Sea,” though the journal is not dogged in its approach to the theme.
  • Issue Number Number 62
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In an unusual and enlightening “conversation,” visual artist Bruce Herman and his patron (patron!) Walter Hansen discuss a three-year project that “involved producing a cycle of images on the life of the Virgin Mary in two large altarpieces that have been exhibited in the United States and are now installed semi-permanently in Monastery San Pedro, a thirteenth-century Benedictine convent in Orvieto, Italy.” They discuss the commissioning, making, and exhibiting of contemporary religious art in the context of the patron’s active participation. If this is a highly unusual situation, and a highly unusual “find” in a magazine, Herman’s approach to his art is, instead, what we might expect – and even hope for – when it comes to art making: “the losing and the finding is the whole point – both in the making process, and in the symbolism – which is why I’m always feeling that the meaning of the work is a fluid thing, not something I control or micromanage.”
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Online
This literary magazine overwhelms the senses with information. Their home page is chock full of fiction, nonfiction, interviews, poetry, book, music, and film reviews, art, and a social justice blog. They have a sizable list of staff members and they are looking for more. One gets the impression that there is much to read and learn here, and maintaining this website must be a formidable task.
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  • Issue Number Number 72
  • Published Date Winter 2011-12
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In its two-plus decades of existence, Image has garnered a reputation asa unique forum for the best writing and artwork that is informed by—or grapples with—religious faith.” This is no small calling. Not content to provide rote answers, convinced that beauty transcends trite aphorisms, the editors of the journal focus on verbal and visual art that “embody a spiritual struggle, that seek to strike a balance between tradition and a profound openness to the world.” In this issue, the fiction is compelling, and the nonfiction and poetry illuminate with heartbreaking effectiveness the tension between contemporary socialized intelligence and the fierce desire for God. Its theme seems to be fervent searching. I found it very moving.
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  • Issue Number Number 108
  • Published Date 2012
Although Iconoclast may not appear to be your typical magazine, it contains a plethora of magical writing just waiting to be discovered. The magazine itself is stapled-stitched on non-glossy paper, and some works share pages based on size (which to me seems like the ecologically friendly route to go). Something that also intrigued me is that they have a lifetime subscription to any country for a base rate. If you like what you read, this seems like a great investment. The magazine is mostly poetry and prose; however, they normally include reviews which were excluded from this issue (their next issue will be even bigger and include the reviews).
  • Subtitle First Frost
  • Issue Number Volume 5
  • Published Date 2003
I go back and forth about the debate regarding whether or not there are simply too many literary magazines. There’s the statistic that the majority of amateur authors spend more money per year on sending work out than they do on the literary magazines they’re so desperately trying to garner an acceptance from, and there’s the notion, to me anyway (an admitted elitist), that if there’s eventually a venue for every piece of writing, what does that do to writing overall?
  • Subtitle A Journal of the Arts & Religion
  • Issue Number Number 41
  • Published Date Winter 2003
This somewhat conservative, glossy-covered journal publishes art, poetry, fiction and essays that focus (mostly) on the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but the work is surprisingly diverse and thought-provoking. (Production quality note to artists: The art work is featured beautifully in full color and heavy paper.)
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2004
Slim and lightweight with a plain purple cover, Iodine Poetry Journal isn’t much to look at. But it’s the perfect length, and depth, to tote along to Starbucks for a quick poetry fix.
This double issue of Interim, out of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas English Department, features some names you will be familiar with (Cole Swenson, Donald Revell) and some you may not.
  • Issue Number Issue 4 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Nature poetry, whether well or poorly written—and this issue of Isotope contains some fairly nice examples of the former—is something we’ve all seen before.
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This attractive issue includes the 2005 Indiana Review Poetry Prize Winner, "Galloglass," by Susan Tichy ("Likes to meet with potentates," said John Dean on the radio. "Doesn't like to kiss babies.") and the 2006 Indiana Review Fiction Prize Winner, Marjorie Celonam's imaginative "Y" ("That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass.")
  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date December 2003
Unprepared for the edginess of this journal, I almost stopped reading Ink Pot less than a quarter of the way through. What a mistake that would have been. This is a journal brimming with life, its poems, stories and flash fiction crackling with energy.
  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This was my first encounter with Iodine, and it was nice to see a magazine with so much space devoted to poetry. Over seventy poems are included in the 2008 Spring/Summer issue of this Charlotte-based journal! A few other things stood out to me, too: a Recommended Reading section in the back features a handful of fairly familiar journals (I hope the next issues feature an even larger selection, perhaps with some lesser known or brand new journals we wouldn’t see listed elsewhere).
  • Issue Number Number 16
  • Published Date Fall 2004
I hadn't read this journal or the work of interview subject, fiction writer Kathleen Hill until now, but I'll read both again. The interview (conducted by Barbara Brooks) is one of the most engaging I've encountered.
  • Issue Number Issue 2.1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2004
isotope, Utah State’s journal of literary nature and science writing, is not content with the usual dichotomy between wonder and funeral song that characterizes our discourse on the environment, but strikes out fearlessly across new (and ancient) terrain with a backpack full of ceaseless questions and a full canteen of inspiration.
  • Issue Number Number 15
  • Published Date Spring 2004
Occasionally I am provoked to mourn the insular, sometimes elite world of our nation’s literary magazines.
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  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 3
  • Published Date Winter 2011/2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The Iowa Review is one of the longer running literary journals in the U.S. It continually puts out excellent issues, and this edition is no exception. The editor’s note starts with a musing about St. Basil’s Cathedral and how its construction can be a metaphor for constructing each issue of the journal. That is, the people who do the shaping (editors, etc.) are kept in the background, but if a viewer scuttles close to the wall (or, a reader, the interior of the journal), its structure becomes palpable and its “shapes and colors” are made “that much sharper.” It seems that if one scuttles up close to the construction of this issue, two superb stories with a certain theme connected to misplaced or misunderstood sex become apparent.
  • Subtitle A Journal of the Arts & Religion
  • Issue Number Number 39
  • Published Date Summer 2003
You don't have to be a religious scholar to appreciate the essays, short stories, art and poetry found in Image. In fact, many of the individual pieces included would easily fit in "general" literary journals. As a collection, the text explores the relationships between religion (mainly Judeo-Christian), culture and art in contemporary times. This issue offers two enlightening essays on the work of artists George Gittoes and Eric Fischl (artist of last year's controversial Tumbling Woman, which generated a debate of how artists should represent the horrors of 9/11).
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  • Issue Number Volume 36
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The haunting cover art, an oil painting by Clint Carney titled “Humanity,” belies the diversity of content within this annual volume of Inscape. Inside, more full-color artwork and photography break up clean, airy pages of prose and poetry. One of the first observations I made was of the graphic design elements. It may be subtle, but the pages are laid out in a way that makes it easy to flip through the issue to find a particular writer. The writers’ names are underlined and aligned with the left margin, while the page numbers are set halfway up the page, close to the edge. This allows you to quickly find both writers’ names and page numbers. I’m not sure why this jumped out at me, but it did. Multiple-page stories also include a running title in the footer, which I thought was a nice touch.
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  • Issue Number Number 30
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
For Inkwell’s Fall 2011 issue, the editors chose a super-charged theme: “Ripped from the Headlines.” Its poetry and prose takes subjects that range from crooked high school wrestling teams to private acts of heroism in the WWII Philippines. Because this material is “newsworthy” already, all of the writing has a pleasing urgency—none is here to play.
  • Issue Number Number 25
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Published by Manhattanville College (Purchase, NY), this issue of Inkwell contains stories and poems that the editor has chosen because they “help us embrace new worlds.” Most of the works indeed strive toward character-based abstraction. The fiction, thankfully, remains grounded in concrete narrative.
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  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
On the whole, the poetry in the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Iodine: Poetry Journal is “poetry of witness,” a term put forth (if not created) by Carolyn Forché. Not every poem is dark and foreboding, however, but the journal is filled with wounds that beg to be healed, even if it hurts to do so. After all, isn’t that the essence of iodine, the tincture, to begin with?
  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2004
If you are like me, the multitude of literary reviews named after universities or geographic locations tend to blend together in your mind. However, for me, the Indiana Review just ceased to be one of them. Indiana Review is one of the only university affiliated magazines I’ve read that publishes great edgy and risky writing.
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Not to be confused with Poetry International out of San Diego State, The International Poetry Review is published by the Department of Romance Languages at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
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  • Issue Number Volume 14 Number 6
  • Published Date Special Issue 2012
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Strong fiction does not have an expiration date. You can leave it on a shelf for centuries, but it will never lose its potency or the sense of joy it instills in new readers. The 2012 thematic issue from Iron Horse Literary Review celebrates the strong fiction of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne by showcasing three of his most popular stories: “The Minister’s Black Veil,” “Young Goodman Brown,” and “The Gentle Boy.” The issue celebrates his fiction, but it also reexamines his work through the eyes of three prominent women authors. There is a heavy dose of irony here because Hawthorne dismissed women writers of his time as “scribblers” of market fiction. The result is a terrific issue juxtaposition of Hawthorne’s voice and voices of contemporary women writers.
What are the implications of being human in a complex age? Interim offers a special feature on the subject, and it’s likely to stimulate debate as much as inform. Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover, partners in art as well as life, make cases for literature as an ancillary tool for improving the human person in an age plagued by deception and frivolity.
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2003
An exciting and exceptional issue. The Iowa Review doesn't label its contents by genre as many do, but that's just as well — many of the pieces here defy categorization.
Great fiction enables us to see the world with fresh eyes, as the editors of Inkwell remind us, and they have reason to be proud.
  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
My personal favorite among this issue's stories, Mary Slowik's "Teeth," takes the storyteller's doctrine (dig where it hurts) to a brilliantly literal level. In her atmospheric, sinister story, the narrator, a dentist's daughter, watches her father fix an exposed nerve: "The nerve waved blindly on the point of the probe. It reminded me of a single larva separated from its teeming kin, the heaving masses in our compost pile, the rows of soft grubs lined up in our beehives at home. And yet, I knew this tiny thread contained the most quivering pain." All the pain hiding inside all the teeth (false teeth, hidden teeth…the theme connecting the story's sections) erupts in a single, intense moment. Wow.
  • Published Date Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Insolent Rudder is an online magazine publishing flash fiction and very short "relatively" plotted stories of "no more than 1113 words." The stories in the current issue oscillate between the comical and the poetic, and almost all of them are perfect illustrations of the condensed observations typical of flash – those seemingly effortless "pow!" moments that pack a lot of truth into very few words. From Jamie Lin's Sequence of micros, "Falling Uphill": "She was the round, shiny apple. I was the rotten tomato with too many weaknesses." From Liesl Jobson's "Ashram": "I kneel before him, bending to kiss his instep. He loved it before when I sucked his toes. We must wait for the guru, he says, pushing me away." From Bosley Gravel's "The Bone Tree": "Mother said they buried him deep that autumn, and she imagined him frozen in the earth waiting for spring like a fresh seed as the snow blew the last of the orange leaves."
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“Some time ago, we decided to devote most of one issue to Irish Pages/Duilli Eireann to contemporary writing in Irish, so as to illustrate the still-thriving literary life of the island’s old language. We appreciate that much of the this issue will be inaccessible to many of our readers, but hope that those without Gaelic will nonetheless glean some sense of the rich Irish-language dimension of contemporary Irish literature,” write the editors. And we do!
  • Issue Number Issue 5 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If you ever thought science and literature didn’t get along, Isotope will prove you wrong. Non-fiction is the strength of this issue. Much is similarly styled in the use of densely layered narratives which are both story and informative (science) writing. David Gessner’s essay, “Field Notes on my Daughter” is as much about his daughter and the family of foxes he observes as it is about his being a father, a scientific observer, a writer, and what all of this means together in one human existence. It’s an amazing piece that, like the observation notes he writes and analyzes, becomes its own surprising creation. So, too, are non-fiction works by Bonnie J. Rough (“Looking for Sacajawea”), Jeffery Thomson (“Turbulence”), Pete Gomben (“Succession”) and George Handley (“Eddies”). If I had been able to learn natural science and history from reading these works in high school, I may have had a much greater appreciation for the discipline – or at least higher grades. As it is, with bare minimum science knowledge, every piece in this magazine is accessible, educational and enjoyable.
  • Issue Number Number 53
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
For a literary journal that is “informed by – or grapples with – religious faith,” Image is really “with it”. Editor Gregory Wolfe's introductory essay “East and West in Miniature” is a discourse on Pope Benedict XVI's recent controversial lecture, and meditates on the issue of Islamic extremism in the light of some mystic concepts.
  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2009/10
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Just as the mother of a large family on a tight budget attempts Christmas shopping by making her dollars work magic, so Iodine Poetry Journal is economic with its pages; by spending space only on poems that will satisfy in numerous ways, the poetry journal fulfills and exceeds expectations. This volume, like the foolproof gift of assorted chocolates, captures an array of artfulness. The goods of both established and emerging writers are found here, all under a cover adorned with an abstract painting by editor Jonathan K. Rice, who is also a visual artist.
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This special issue dedicated to “Spain’s Modern Experience” is guest edited by Heidi Czerwiec and Claudia Routon, who selected and translated the work. Originals and translations appear side by side and include poems in Spanish, Asturian, and Galician. Poets include several quite well known in Spain and others in the early stages of their careers.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Intentional is a new magazine that aims to “capture the twenty-something experience and explore innovations that might augment quality of life for millennials.” After reading Kate Jenkins’s editor note in the first issue, I, as a twenty-something myself, knew that this would be a magazine worth reading, and I was right; I read this second issue cover to cover, start to finish, all in one sitting.
  • Subtitle Art, Faith, Mystery
  • Issue Number Number 43
  • Published Date Fall 2004
This issue of Image–a journal that seeks to explore the relationship between culture and (typically) Judeo-Christian conceptions of God, and does so in a consistently thoughtful manner–is notable once again for its intelligent interrogations of received ideas about religion.
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  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The poems in this issue of I-70 had a certain flow not always found in literary journals—or even single-author collections, for that matter. It is a feature made even more remarkable given that the work here is presented alphabetically by the author’s last name.
  • Issue Number Issue 6 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Isotope (literary nature and science writing) has made some attractive changes. Perfect binding, expanded contents, recycled paper (for nature and science writing!), pleasing coated paper that really shows off the artwork. This issue’s art portfolio (and the cover art, too) is stunning: impeccable reproductions of paintings by Deborah Banerjee, “The Edge of Sight: The JPL Paintings.” JPL stands for Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California where the painter lives. The tension between Banerjee’s still life oils and the concept and imagined vision of propulsion, the spacecrafts’ raison d’être, is both restrained and explosive. The relationship of spacecraft to space (background) is fascinating and entirely unique from painting to painting. The painter’s explanation/description of what she has attempted to do is as beautifully composed, and as interesting, as her paintings.
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