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  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2017
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Looking back through old family snapshots, a majority include a four-legged family member: Sadie our German Shorthaired Pointer. It has been almost ten years since she passed away, but every time I see the same breed of dog as Sadie, I can’t help thinking of my childhood companion. Upon seeing the German Shorthaired painting by Katie Erickson on the cover of the Winter 2017 issue of the Jabberwock Review, I was flooded with nostalgia, a bittersweetness that followed me throughout the issue.

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  • Issue Number Number 30.5
  • Published Date 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

I always look forward to seeing the cover art of jubilat’s new issues, often featuring bright colors or eye-catching images. However, their latest issue caught my eye because it doesn’t fit their usual look. Instead, the editors chose a plain black background behind their title text for this special issue that presents 108 poems by 105 writers who share what’s been on their minds since November 8, 2016. With this issue, jubilat creates something beautiful out of rubble, giving readers something to hold onto when we may feel hopeless, wordless, or disconnected.

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  • Issue Number Issue 83
  • Published Date October 2016
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online

With Halloween around the corner, Jersey Devil Press’s new issue was especially enticing this month, promising to quench my thirst for spooky, strange stories to read in the dark.

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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It may seem counterintuitive to begin with the end, but that is where I want to start with one of my favorite pieces. The last narrative in the Winter 2015 issue of Jabberwock Review follows a father, who, after the death of his wife (who appears to him post-mortem as a physical manifestation of his subconscious much like the ghost of Hamlet’s father), frames his drug-addicted son for grand larceny in hopes to save him from his addiction. In her prose, Sonia Scherr explores how our losses define us while remaining visible like stars in the night sky, where the stars are dead long before we gaze upon them, yet are “not a reflection or a picture, but the living star” that we see. The stars, like our losses, leave “A Hole in the Universe.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Published at Lynchburg College in Virginia, this review has roots in the South as deep as James Dickey’s. But while its content aims “to maintain an artistic and intellectual connection” to Dickey and his work, the interpretation is generous enough to allow for a good mix of Dickey scholarship, original poetry, essays not about the author but maybe concerning things he would care about, and book reviews. One might say the spirit of Dickey is hovering over the journal, so that, for example, the wilder shores of the avant garde or identity politics do not appear in this issue. We are in recognizable Dickey territory the whole way.

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  • Issue Number Number 11
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The editors of Juked state on their website that they do not adhere to any particular themes or tastes, but in this year’s issue, one might perceive a predilection for experimentation. Michelle Latiolais opens the volume with “Out,” which cannot be characterized in a single clause, but links together a complicated narrative almost without any kind of literary seam showing. Reportage of a world caramelized with sex, friendship, and the idiosyncrasies of place and a specific time sets the work apart in a shifting carnival; one is suspended between effective ‘reportage’ and the sequined world of the author’s imagination.
  • Issue Number Number 14
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“At last, terror has arrived.” Thus begins the big bang of this little journal in Arda Collins’s “The News.” Quality poems follow, as is guaranteed by titles like “Heaven,” the silly goodness of Robyn Schiff’s “Dear Ralph Lauren,” and “1450-1950” by Bob Brown, a picture-poem, for want of a better word. It has eyes surrounding the verses “Eyes / Eyes / My God / What eyes!”
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  • Issue Number Issue 50
  • Published Date January 2014
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
Jersey Devil Press celebrates their fiftieth issue, and they even made a playlist to accompany it, with a song pairing for each of these intriguing stories.
  • Issue Number Number 5
  • Published Date Winter 2007/2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
While Juked is primarily on online literary journal, the editors call for longer submissions of fiction and cull through poetry subs and put together an annual print issue. This issue features the winners of the fiction (Marianne Villanueva) and poetry contests (James Belflower) as well as other selected work. Also included is Kelly Spitzer’s insightful interview with Claudia Smith regarding Smith’s literary struggles and successes.
  • Issue Number Number 2
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The second issue of Jelly Bucket is diverse, eclectic, and thoughtful. With a variety of poetry, prose, and creative nonfiction, Jelly Bucket does not seem to have specific, exclusive criteria, with the exception that all accepted work should reveal a new truth or way of life.
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Your ears are pricked. You’ve just read a good novel. You want more. You’re ready for a poem. And so is the newest issue of Jubilat. Though it has its luminaries, such as Ashbery and Salamun, they deliver – if only enough. The problem with Jubilat is not too little poetry, it’s the tidiness of the poetry. There’s meaningless metaphors like Allison Titus’, “O how we mine for artifacts the endless dusk.” Or there are the ones that deserve reflection like Rae Gouirand’s:
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
My biggest complaint with university literary journals is that they too often stress style over content. A boring, tedious story is still a boring, tedious story no matter how much it may be slathered in mellifluous, Updikian prose. I ask, how often can one be spellbound by another sensitive account of visiting an Alzheimer-afflicted grandmother in the nursing home? It was with considerable glee, therefore, that I enfolded myself within the online pages of this literary journal’s latest issue and read some real stories.
  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Okay, maybe it's not an issue for most, but I'm a sucker for fonts. Ever picked up a lit mag and thought, “Good content, but it looks awful on the page”? A good lit mag isn't just about content, it's about presentation. And Mississippi State's Jabberwock Review is a brilliant example of just how much quality production can do for a magazine: the cover photo is austere, the pages are nice and thick, and, yes, the font is nice.
In reading this edition of The Journal of Ordinary Thought, you will find its writers' thoughts on generation. They are, Luis J. Rodriguez writes in the foreword, the "inheritances of imaginations, gifts, capacities, poetics and dreams."
  • Subtitle Different Doors
  • Published Date Summer 2003
Now in its second decade, JOT "…publishes reflections people make on their personal histories and everyday experiences. It is founded on the propositions that every person is a philosopher, expressing one's thoughts fosters creativity and change, and taking control of life requires people to think about the world and communicate their thoughts to others." The doors here symbolize place, Chicago (past and present) to be exact, and some of the streets, towns, and geographies people who live there now have left for Chicago.
  • Subtitle Twenty Four Hours
  • Published Date Spring 2005
“A job is like / Being without a shadow,” goes the first line in “Being Without.” A little further on, in alleyways with children there is “More purpose and meaning to their play / Than you with your wheelbarrow.” Meaningless spreads endlessly in poems, essays, oral histories, discussing life without work.
  • Issue Number Issue 42
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If I were to dare make a blanket statement about New Jersey poets, I'd say they're a tough, witty lot with good stories to tell. There is little frippery in this journal's pages.
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
We all know the jabberwock, Lewis Carroll’s monster with its eyes of flame, riffling through the tulgey woods and burbling as it came. The story of the jabberwock “fill[s] [Alice’s] head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are.” We might say that read-worthy literature is all like that, filling our heads with images and sounds whose meanings reach far beyond their mundane expression. I imagine that’s where the title of this journal, created by students and faculty of the Department of English at Mississippi State University, wants to point us: beyond our daily routines, into relevant, effective words that revise our ordinariness.
  • Subtitle New Writing on Justice
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
One of the poems I keep coming back to in this issue of J Journal is Judith Skillman’s “Estrangement.” I like the care and precision with which this fierce poem about old age is constructed. I like its John Donne-like metaphors and the way it broadens out from the senses to far-flung and historical references; from “Long nights / sleepless, punctuated by sleet,” to “the city seven hours south of Paris // called L’Age . . .” to the “second century martyr Perpetua, / coming now into the arena / to be mauled by lion, hyena, and laughter.” And I like its seemingly tangential relation to this journal’s stated purpose—in the words of the editors, “to gather creative writing under the justice banner.” Read in any other journal, it might not trigger associations to questions of justice. But its inclusion here enriches it with an existential dimension—what is “just,” after all, about growing old?
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
J Journal takes a journey to the dark side of humankind – the criminal side, the enforcement side, to those who have been brutalized, taken advantage of…it uses literature to pose “questions of justice, directly and tangentially.” Each poem, each short story brings a situation laden with irony, and leaves it unresolved, leaving the reader to search within, find the discordant inner chord that has been struck and bring it back into tune.
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of The Journal reads geologically: something is always happening but its effect is perceptible only with the distance of narrative. A tornado, referred to “in code” by one family, is revisited decades later in “Finding Oz,” The Journal’s William Allen Creative Nonfiction Prize Winner. Connie Vaughn rediscovers affections for her father she had long since dispelled: “If our differences are the centrifugal forces that have sent us flying apart throughout our lives, the tornado might be a form of centripetal action bringing us back together.” That thesis-sounding sentence – and the tidy structure – are more essay-ish than creative nonfiction, but it’s a damn good story regardless.
  • Issue Number Issue 22
  • Published Date July 2011
  • Publication Cycle Monthly
This is an attractive, well-organized journal that does something I really like: the stories are presented both in regular script or can be downloaded as a pdf. Their contemporaries often do one or the other, and it is nice to have a choice. The editors describe their interests the following way: “Our tastes tend more toward the offbeat and the absurd, the unclassifiable and the insane, stories most other publishers can’t be bothered with.” Well, they certainly have been successful in finding and publishing work to their taste. I had a great time reading their offbeat and usually humorous tales.
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Chicago's remarkable populist tradition includes a diverse range of voices, from Carl Sandburg to Gwendolyn Brooks. The Journal of Ordinary Thought is a firm product of that tradition, showcasing everyday people from the neighborhood with something to say. Some are joyfully discovering their creative potential; some are more urgent to make their opinions heard. The theme here, "Notes for a People's Atlas of Chicago," playfully reveals the limitations of maps in detailing the experience of lived space. Given an outline of the city, participants created their own atlases and legends. Included are maps denoting the Cubs/Sox divide, the barrage of condos being built, places to buy the best pierogies or find residences of IVAW members.
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  • Issue Number Number 4
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Jelly Bucket is the literary magazine of the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University. As previous reviewers have noted, this magazine welcomes a broad diversity of work in fiction, nonfiction, interviews, poetry (including translation), and art. Graphic design is bright and lively without sacrificing readability. Big pages and proportionally ample margins present writers and artists well. The quality of the work is a bit uneven, but overall, standards are high and there are some really fine works.
This generously-spirited review produced at the County College of Morris in New Jersey focuses solely on New Jersey writers and artists, but contains a surprising diversity of work.
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn/Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Journal is published semi-annually by Ohio State University. A journal of “literature,” entries are not classified by genre, so it can be difficult to know if prose pieces are fiction or nonfiction (though I sometimes wonder if we really need to know the difference), but the journal would appear to include poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and reviews. The most immediately recognizable names this issue are Elton Glaser, Renee Ashley, Denise Duhamel (whose “Backwards and Forwards” was co-written with Amy Lemmon), Patricia Lockwood, Jesse Lee Kercheval, David Wagoner, and Nance Van Winckel, but most contributors are widely published, many in fine and prominent journals.
  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Jelly Bucket is a new journal produced by Eastern Kentucky University that gets its name, as editor Tasha Cotter explains in an introduction, from “archaic coalminer slang for lunch pail.” Cotter proclaims that the journal’s “only requirement is excellence.” Jelly Bucket’s aesthetic straddles these two aims interestingly, resulting in 185 pages of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction that challenges the mind while feeding a reader’s base, human desires for story, wordplay and visual art.
  • Issue Number Issue 31
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
This issue of Jersey Devil Press magazine, as the editors indicate, is “chock full of stories about people betrayed by self, undermined by their own best efforts, and ultimately destined to fail because of their inherent, incurable flaws.” Inside the issue, each character and story is definitely unique, pulling the reader through the issue to figure out what the next surprise is.
  • Issue Number Issue 21
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Jubilat 21 is an eclectic issue packed with both surrealism and honesty, insight and fun. I’ve always loved jubilat for the bold, inventive work it features, and this issue is no exception.
  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Juked’s website says, “We don’t adhere to any particular themes or tastes, but some people tell us they see one, so who knows.” I’m not going to make any broad declarations of a theme connecting the stories, poetry, and interviews in this issue; I’m just going to highlight a few of the better selections.
  • Subtitle Cause I Wanted To
  • Published Date Fall 2003/Winter 2004
This slim quarterly, published by the Neighborhood Writing Alliance in Chicago, is one of the more fascinating literary magazines out there.
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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date May 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Contemporary fiction often ignores or pushes aside gay themes. That’s why it’s wonderful to have a journal like Jonathan; it spotlights what is generally left gathering dust. A journal dedicated to gay men’s fiction, Jonathan is captivating from page one. More than most journals, it reads like a chorus of voices; the ten narrators of Jonathan’s fiction are vulnerable. They are strong and insightful.
This slender journal from Ohio State presents well-chosen fiction, poetry, and a piece of non-fiction, mostly from well-known writers such as Robin Behn and Gary Fincke. Not a lot of surprises here, but you’ll find solid selections to sink your teeth into.
  • Issue Number Number 6
  • Published Date Winter 2008/2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Okay, I’ll admit it: I had no idea what ‘juked’ meant. So I consulted my trusty OED, only to find that the word is a football term: sort of. It means, in essence, to fake someone out; pull them offside (this is where the football thing comes in). At any rate, I found that the stories and poems contained within Juked’s pages are, in fact, of the sort that employ a bit of skullduggery.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Small but mighty, Jackson Hole Review makes its debut into the realm of literary magazines. If you’ve ever wondered about the strength and validity of place-based magazines, the lead essay “Almost Paradise” by Kim Barnes will give plenty of proof positive. Telling her own story of growing up near water and having to leave it behind, Barnes lays painfully bare how deeply connected she was and the mental and emotional suffering she experienced with leaving. Barnes turns to Jung and Campbell for the psychology and mythology of these deeper reactions we have to the planet, “You see, it is not simply the place that I miss, but the recognizable stories it contains. […] What I know is that the stories that take place in a particular landscape are what give us a strong sense of belonging, of attachment. They give us a sense of shared history, a narratival investment. […] How can we separate ourselves from the land that holds our stories?” Barnes’s essay is a good lead-in along with the editorial, setting up the theme of the magazine: Connect/Disconnect.
  • Published Date Winter 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Let’s call it “folk art.” It’s certainly folk literature. It would be chic to call it urban myth, but I call it my history. Who doesn’t remember the sand man and the boogie man? I feel sorry for them. Then there’s the wahoo man, and the weird aunt and the uncle who . . . The Journal of Ordinary Thought is just that. My neighborhood, my people. It’s not just a trip down memory lane; it’s decent literature, in the language of the people I grew up with, speaking to me about many of the events that we experienced and that you’ll enjoy reliving.
  • Issue Number Issue 7
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
Jellyfish Magazine’s design is simple and fresh. The top of the page features a sketch of waves—and certainly this issue flows through like waves, ups, downs, and fluid, often touching on the topic of the water, the sea.
  • Issue Number Volume 28.2
  • Published Date Autumn/Winter 2004
With two traditionally constructed short stories, a meta-fictional batch of autobiographical “contributor’s notes” by writer Michael Martone, and a nonfiction piece excerpted from the personal notebook of author M.V. Clayton, this issue of The Journal is slim on its prose offerings, leaning almost entirely toward poetry.
  • Issue Number Number 18
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Uljana Wolf’s work, translated by Susan Bernofsky, excerpts from DICTHionary. A German-English Dictionary of False Friends, True Cognates, and Other Cousins, is like the best of the work jubilat always gives us, inventive, unusual, confusing, smart, and full of itself—always in the best sense. Here, dictionary letters and their representative words are followed by prose poems that play out the letters in clever streams of connected and disconnected images and opinions.
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Originally coined by Lewis Carroll in the poem “Jabberwocky,” the term jabberwock is defined as “a playful imitation of language consisting of invented, meaningless words; nonsense; gibberish.” On the contrary, the Jabberwock Review contains a selection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that attempt to defy such a negative connotation. The works featured in this volume are undeniably character driven, focusing on narrators and protagonists that seek a deeper understanding of his or her identity. While there isn’t a specific theme to this issue, the organization of the pieces creates a smooth flow, creating a seamless transition for the reader.
As Journal of New Jersey Poets quietly celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, something curious remains about the manner in which poets write about the Garden State. More than a locale but less than a state of mind, New Jersey is evinced in its most dignified sense: fond and often dryly ironical memories of family gatherings, wooded communities, and The Shore, The Shore, The Shore.
  • Subtitle Disability and the Dialectic of Dependency
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date October 2007
In this inaugural issue of the Journal of Literary Disability, Editor David Bolt observed that disability is “…present in all literary works, but too frequently absent from literary criticism.” Theoretical perspectives are appreciative of class, ethnicity, and gender, “…so why are there so few (curricula) that are appreciative of disability?”
Test the weight of your best thoughts. If they are turgid with inspiration, and quotes like “To be or not to be,” then you are beyond the ordinary good writer. The Journal of Ordinary Thought (JOT) is for those writers who realize that editing is half the writing, and to get to the level of an everyday Shakespeare, there are many thoughts that need to be discarded or reshaped. JOT imagines the landscape of thought as one where no words should be culled. All the ordinariness of language is settled here like the surface of a sea of jetsam and flotsam. Sounds bad, right? But the effect is quite the opposite. In her short essay “Me and Time,” Pennie Holmes-Brinson begins: “Time and I don't get along well.” She continues the personification of time with sentences like “Then it stands there with one hand on its hip, pointing at its wristwatch with another hand, and reaching out at me with yet another hand!” JOT is littered with such gems, and they all lie on the surface.
  • Issue Number Number 8
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The annual Juked print issue opens with a tight piece of historical fiction by James Scott titled “Watertown,” in which two of Babe Ruth's questionably well-meaning associates decide to do something about Babe's addict wife:
  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn/Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of The Journal flexes its tensile strength in both poetry and fiction. The first poem to shake me was Frannie Lindsay's “To the Petermann Glacier,” which seems to portend an environmental holocaust (the glacier moving “down each torn strand of latitude”) while hinting at the post-disaster world to come, one where we find “the newly erected Cathedral of Zero / with its pulpit tangled in sumac.” Meanwhile, “the lost gulls float inland scavenging sticks // as you lay down the calm heat of listening before / the great barrier requiem.”
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
It’s a confident mag that simply calls itself “The Journal,” as if it were the only one, but after 33 years of publication, The Journal has earned that right. Committed to publishing “writing not easily classified by genre,” this volume packs 132 potent pages.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date December 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
What are the connections linking these three stanzas?
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