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  • Issue Number Volume 82 Number 3 & 4
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2016
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

In Volume 82 of New Letters, The University of Missouri-Kansas has provided us with one of those always delightful choices of literary direction and entertainment, and for some of us there also memories of past enjoyment. Those of “a certain generation” will recall (some thirty or forty years ago) the popularity of Caribbean novels, a series of enjoyable and enlightening stories which included a history and a heritage totally different if not totally new to the average reader of novels and short stories. The art critics would/could call them “primitive” if they were paintings, but the content told of experiences that we had not even thought about.

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  • Issue Number Volume 59 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2016
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

Nimrod International Journal has a history of devoting issues to underrepresented voices; Mirrors and Prisms continues this work, featuring only writers of marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities. But queer authors does not always mean queer subject matter. Editor Elis O’Neal states, “In this issue, you’ll find work on all subjects [ . . . ] we wanted to honor the breadth and depth of writing by our contributors, rather than limit their writing to a single aspect of their lives.” Nimrod takes a person-first approach to queer authorship.

  • Issue Number Issue 101
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

A Canadian acquaintance recently bemoaned the state of American small publishing to me: why, even in San Francisco – clearly the New New York of the Lulu.com era – is it impossible to find work in publishing? I had no answer for him. Canadians are indeed a lucky bunch. For a land with such a sparse prospective audience, there is an abundance of funding for the arts. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised to find it more exuberant about its own import. The New Quarterly has devoted an issue to the topic of “The Artist as Activist.”

  • Issue Number Volume 69 Number 4
  • Published Date 2003

Editor Robert Stewart's interview with Renée Stout — reproductions of her mixed media assemblages, paintings, and sculptures appear on the cover and on sixteen pages within — is reason enough to look at this issue, but, not the only reason. Poems by Sherman Alexie, Simon Perchik, Diana O'Hehir, short fiction by Lance Olsen, and essays by Janet Burroway, and Jodi Varon make spending time with the most recent New Letters especially worthwhile.

  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
No is more than a literary magazine; it is a journal of the arts. That lofty subtitle is not just a marketing ploy. No really does bring the literary magazine to the level of art form. It is so well put together it succeeds as a discreet collection of poems and as a unified whole. Beautifully bound, this creative cornucopia is overflowing with the smartest, edgiest, and most provocative poetry. This issue heavily features Marjorie Welsh’s poetry and painting, including the book-length “From Dedicated To,” which acts as a kind of book-within-a-journal in this case.
  • Issue Number Volume 71 Number 3
  • Published Date 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
From its attractive table-of-contents pages to ads for the Missouri Review, Notre Dame Review, and Shenandoah, New Letters is a class act, including the inside-cover ads for books by and about Peter Viereck as well as for New Letters itself. Robert Stewart's "Allow Yourself to Say, Yes, An Editor's Note," includes this quotation: "'This playfulness,' says scholar Richard Rorty, 'is the product . . . of the power of language to make new and different things possible and important [. . .].'"
  • Issue Number Number 19
  • Published Date Winter 2005
Notre Dame Review &Now, and Then is this issue's theme, by which the editors mean: "a larger than-traditional conception of what counts as literature" based on the premise that "the world changes" and literature, like painting and music, will "reflect larger historical changes." &Now plus and Then is/are literally one/two journals, the front cover of &Now becomes the back cover of and Then as halfway through one must flip the journal over and begin again to be reading right side up. &Now, the editors tell us, is a "festival of new writing" and somehow the word festival gives me permission to revel in these "larger than traditional" pieces with largesse.
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  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“Enamored” isn’t a word I have reason to use often, but it’s the only word that properly explains how the Fall 2015 issue of NANO Fiction left me feeling. From the cover, a digital collage by Andrea Trninic, the perfect shade and gory subject matter for October, to the Sehr Flash: Fiction Becomes Music feature, I am completely enamored.
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  • Issue Number Volume 12 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
When I first received this issue of Ninth Letter, I was curious to why it came with a box cover. Upon removing it from its sheath, I found that it came with three card inserts, each one a prose piece dedicated either to the waning Dewey decimal system, an immature book defacer, or a “Library of Water.” After reading the prose inserts, I was excited to read further. Once I opened the issue I was greeted by a myriad of art pieces of different sizes, styles, meanings; a smorgasbord of colors and patterns that would take their own review to cover in any detail, which, as a previous art student, I was tempted to write.
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  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
New England Review is a giant among literary magazines, published quarterly by Middlebury College, a small liberal arts college in Vermont. The current issue shows why New England Review deserves its sterling reputation. At 200 pages, it is filled with quality poetry, fiction, essays, and translations. There is no artwork, but as for literature, there is something for everybody: avant-garde free verse, stories set in slums and in high-rent New York, an academic piece on Herman Melville, and a reprint from an 1871 book on the old New England courtship rite called “bundling.”
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  • Issue Number Number 5
  • Published Date Spring 2015
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
The Spring 2015 online issue of Nat. Brut carries a lot with it: fiction, flash fiction contest winners, poetry, art, film, animation, photographs. No matter what readers are looking for, they’re sure to find it somewhere in this issue.
The North Carolina Literary Review is serious business, filled with substantial articles, interviews, poems, and stories that will be cited and remembered beyond the pleasure of reading that so many good literary journals offer. Moreover, there is a welter of photographs and art work, almost too much to take in. This is not an issue to pass on to a friend, but rather to shelve in one’s permanent library.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date September 2014
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
The first thing that caught my eye in this issue of Neutrons Protons was the titling of the included pieces, and I was intrigued to read more, as you will be when you see titles such as “A Social Media Marketer’s Guide to Chronic Illness” and “The House with No Doorknobs” and “It Was All So Pinteresting” and “The Tin Man Addresses the Parole Board.” I urge you to read past the titles that invite you in; you’ll be glad you did.
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  • Issue Number Volume 57 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Stories build bridges in the human community, and this issue of Nimrod explores the rebuilding and re-purposing of many such bridges. As Eilis O’Neal points out in the editor’s note, the focus of this themed issue is work that reimagines “fairy tales, myths, historical events, and family legends, as well as work that reimagines voice, poetic form, art, and even language via translation.” Life reimagined in the presence of death, temporal and spatial reality reimagined in terms of various binaries, old tales adjusted to newer realities, language reconceived with fresh nuances, all this and more is here.
  • Issue Number Number 16
  • Published Date Fall 2006
In its sixteenth issue, Natural Bridge features a special section “in response to women’s writing.” The “general” pages feature poems such as Paul Hostovsky’s “People in Pediatric Oncology,” Rachel Hadas’s “The Middle Way,” and Andrew Sage’s “Paradise.” Each introduce their subject while illuminating it, tasks that seem just as vital in works explicitly responding to a text or writer. Natural Bridge’s most effective responses do this double duty.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date February 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
While No Tokens, a new, female-run literary journal from Brooklyn, was born partially out of a desire to remind people of the aesthetic pleasures of the print journal and help assure greater gender parity in the publishing world, it’s clear from the strength of their debut issue that the editors’ guiding principle of “celebrating work that is felt in the spine” was the primary criterion for selecting the fiction, poetry, and artwork in their inaugural issue. In the issue’s most arresting pieces of fiction and poetry, characters and speakers honestly appraise lives which have gained a momentum they can no longer passively abide or completely understand.
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  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of online journal New Purlieu Review is themed “Family” and indeed asks important questions about family as well as reflects on the importance of one.
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  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’ve always viewed the New Orleans Review as one of the silverbacks of the modern literary journal scene. Despite the obvious setbacks in dealing with Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, it still surges ahead as one of the leading reviews with a promise of great work by great writers—those well-known, and those not. Some have said it is better than ever. This current issue does not disappoint, especially with Jacob M. Appel’s story “Prisoners of the Multiverse,” winner of the 2011 Walker Percy Fiction Contest. Not wanting to ruin the story for future readers, I will quote Nancy Lemann, judge for this year’s prize, in her introduction to the piece: Appel’s story “preserves the mystery” of a thing of beauty and delivers “what I seek in literature: inspiration, hope, and possibility.”
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Ninth Letter is a stunning production. Its editors incorporate a full range of visual elements, including photographs, graphics, drawings, and color with (and within) the texts they’ve selected. The results are often singular works of art.
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  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
The New River is certainly a river off of the mainstream. It’s a collage of digital media, journalism, and writing.
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
These days we hear a lot about the demise of print publication and the general plight of the publishing world. But many agree that there will always remain an interest in local news and therefore local newspapers. The Newtowner is essentially local literary news for Newtown, Connecticut. For those engaged in the world of Arts and Literature, having a publication like this available to your community is something of a dream come true. After all, who wouldn't subscribe to a magazine highlighting the local goings-on pertaining to your niche area of interest?
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  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In her Editor’s Note, Shanna Miller McNair states that the formation of The New Guard was based upon the need to create “something bold and unusual,” using a strategy of “juxtaposing the narrative with the experimental.” As you pour over the pages of The New Guard, it is quite easy to visualize and pin-point McNair’s original ambition. The New Guard presents a curious mixture of the traditional narrative with the experimental, whether it is intimate fan letters to long-deceased authors, short stories showcasing mythical transformations, or free-verse poems.
  • Issue Number Volume 44
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
It is difficult to neatly sum up a journal as diverse as Northwest Review; it contains a wealth of short stories, poems, and essays, with a range of voices in each category. The fiction, particularly, takes the reader through a variety of cultures, from the traditional but tense Cuban-American family of Jennine Capo Crucet's "Noche Buena" to the subtle power plays in Houston among expatriate Bangladeshi women in Gemini Wahhaj's "Exit." Therese Kuoh-Moukoury's excellent "Colors of Tears" (translated from French) is written in an African folkloric style, but is contemporary in its content and female point of view.
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
No magazine looks better than Ninth Letter. For someone like me, who appreciates but doesn’t understand design, the fact that each segment has its own look and yet the magazine holds a uniform aesthetic is a miracle. This would all be well and good, a coffee tabletop showstopper, but the content proves worthy of the image. In fact, the descriptions in the lead story, Steve Stern’s “Legend of the Lost,” are as memorable as the stark graphics of a lone bungee jumper or a fading Ferris wheel—“the mezuzah nestled like an ingot in the boiling chest hair revealed by his open collar” and “a potato-shaped woman whose Old Country accent remained as thick as sour cream” were two of my favorites, though I could list a dozen without a noticeable dip in quality.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
That genre fiction is rarely thought of as quality work should come as no surprise to anyone who has tried submitting it to undergraduate writing workshops. The editors of New Genre take their crack at the stigma of the g-label via a pair of essays which posit that there is no shame in writing, reading, and using the very word "genre."
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  • Issue Number Volume 75 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Higher education is the topic of this edition of North Dakota Quarterly, featuring the trends, idiosyncrasies, problems, joys, and goals of the college and the university examined in poetry, memoir, and prose that both engages and challenges, providing a wide variety of views on academia.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2009-10
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Art Director Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud introduces the latest edition by saying, “We struggled with the line between elegant restraint and dullness, between expressiveness and eye-candy.” These are tensions exclusive to the talented, and they are made possible by the equipped and impressive staff of artists, alumni from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Indeed the issue is visually striking, but it is also careful and deliberate. Add to it new fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry from Sherman Alexie, Ander Monson, Benjamin Percy, Matt Donovan, Stephan Clark, John Warner, Robert Campbell, Marianne Boruch, Cathy Day, among others, and the result is a sexy literary journal, filled with substance.
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  • Issue Number Volume 76 Number 1
  • Published Date 2009-10
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of the magazine seems particularly serious (in the sense of “of consequence”), which I find entirely appropriate for the present moment (historically, politically, socially) and in keeping with my expectations for New Letters. Steve Paul interviews poet Edward Sanders and in his introduction quotes him as having said, “Poets should again assume the responsibility for the description of history.” And as it happens, this issue’s special feature section, guest edited by Mia Leonin, is titled “This Side of War,” with work by 15 poets who, for the most part, explore both recent and current wars, accompanied by the black and white photographs of soldiers by Stephen Grote. The poems offer a range of perspectives on “being at war,” from deployment abroad to the civilians who remain at home to the experience of civilian victims of military violence.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2004
Ninth Letter is a vigorous and fearlessly enterprising magazine, unconventional in both appearance and content without lapsing from quality. Instead of the trade paperback format favored by most lit mags, the Ninth Letter editors have opted for an exhibition-catalog size printing, an eccentric incarnation that aptly suits the journal’s adventurous character and could easily inspire a wider scope of design among the lit mag community.
  • Issue Number Volume 71 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2004
It might behoove the honorable editors of North Dakota Quarterly to realize that this magazine too closely resembles a college catalog from the outside. (It probably doesn’t help that one can open up and find a registrar-esque listing of grad school dissertations!)
The New England Review is a larger-than-usual 7”X10” magazine, and with good reason: you’re likely holding in your hands one of the half-dozen best quarterlies out there. I don’t know where to begin with my impressions. I could take the international perspective: an interview with filmmaker Lars von Trier, a study of Orwell’s personal library, a zany around-the-world short story on the intellect by Gregory Blake Smith.
  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 2
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
You may not know her name . . . yet, but Nicky Beer, author of this issue’s poetry feature, has won a fellowship from the NEA, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Bread Loaf scholarship, and the Discovery/Nation Award, so, clearly, somebody’s paying attention. But that’s not why you’ll want to get to know her. You’ll want to take notice because her poem “Mako” begins “Motion took on a form / and stayed.” Because to her “all night long” means “twenty to forty minutes.” Because her poem “Hummingbird, 1:30 AM” asks us to “Consider what a thought would do / if it could abandon the body entirely.” And because she turns sharks and octopi into creatures of poetic intrigue and interest in language that is tense and indulgent, without being showy.
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  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This edition of Nano Fiction was intriguing from the bright cover art to the flash fiction that jolts you along like a wooden roller coaster. The artist behind the front and back covers, Jason Poland, includes an artist statement and comic strip in the shape of honeycombs titled “The Sting and the Sweet.” In his statement, Poland explains how he took up beekeeping in 2008 and learned that each queen bee seeks to kill her sister queens. She who survives, reigns; however, in his comic strip, he shows two sister queens seemingly joining forces but remaining in diplomatic battle for queendom. On the covers, the queen sisters are holding hands and have a gothic essence about them, especially in their facial makeup and markings. The images are quite stunning, but only through following the comic strip does the real story begin to unfold.
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  • Issue Number Number 19
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
North Carolina Literary Review is a joint production of East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary & Historical Society and is quite an elaborate creation. The journal has yearly themes and this year’s theme concerns the Appalachian region of the state. There are numerous book reviews, along with poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, interviews, literary criticism, plus many illustrating photographs and paintings – 240 pages altogether.
  • Issue Number Volume 49 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Of the 49 contributors in this issue of Nimrod, 36 are finalists and semifinalists of its 27th annual award issue, which is based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Four are for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction; 32 for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Numbers may not be the best introduction for their venerated prize issue, yet it suggests the bloom of the varied, evocative and penetrating contents: this is a journal to be slowly ingested and savored.
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  • Issue Number Number 66
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In the latest issue of the New York Quarterly, we are reminded why it has survived for over 40 years while so many other literary journals of import both large and small are now defunct. The diversity of poetry in this journal makes it extremely inviting as if many disparate voices are having an energetic conversation so stimulating there is no need of a proper segue.
This issue of the Eugene, Oregon-based Northwest Review is heavy on short fiction and light on poetry, which I, as a poet with poetry-advocacy issues, must disapprove of. However, the fiction and essays are quite lively, including Michael Mattes’ wonderful “Miles and Miles” about a frustrated comic book artist attending a wedding in Chicago.
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 1
  • Published Date October 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The New Review of Literature is filled with the usual suspects. You will find, of course, poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and even a little extra: an interview. And, upon closer inspection, you'll note that this collection is the product of the Graduate Writing program of Otis College of Art and Design. What is unexpected, though, what sets this compilation apart from others, is that all the pieces that appear among the pages are extraordinarily intelligent and well-informed.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
There are literary magazines that you read and enjoy, but end up piled in your closet amongst back issues of other magazines. Then there are literary magazines that are so lovingly put together and carefully designed that they demand prominent placement on your bookshelf or coffee table. Ninth Letter is one of the latter. This University of Illinois based publication seeks to reinvent the literary magazine by infusing it with design and art.
  • Subtitle Canadian Writers & Writing
  • Issue Number Number 95
  • Published Date Summer 2005
Montreal-based poet Robyn Sarah served as guest editor for what is called a "small anthology" of poems featured in this issue. Sarah also contributes an essay on poetics in which she defines a good poem: "it should transcend its own particulars; it should be built to bear weight; it should have lift." The nearly four dozen poets she's selected offer up work Sarah finds "attentive to language, memorable, ponderable, convincing." Sarah clearly favors plain diction, narrative impulses, strong, authentic voices, and emotional integrity.
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  • Issue Number Number 19
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The 2010 edition of New Millennium features a reprint of a profile/interview with the late John Updike by the magazine’s editor, Don Williams, originally published in 1996; a Poetry Suite of work by 51 poets and the short-short fiction, fiction, nonfiction, “Special Obama Awards,” and poetry winners in the magazine’s highly popular contests. Award-winning works are accompanied by author photos and statements. For the most part, prose contributions favor casual and natural voices, credible and authentic dialogue, well rounded plots, logical and familiar narrative impulses, and preoccupations that may be shared familiarly by many readers.
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  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Weekly online
This is simply the best online literary magazine in the country today. New stories are provided every week from a stellar list of writers, and a wide variety of material is presented on a rotating basis – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, interviews, cartoons, book reviews, and other features. And now they have taken the evolutionary step of becoming the first lit mag on Amazon’s Kindle. As I have stated before, if you wish to see the future of online publishing, read this magazine.
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  • Issue Number Number 125
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
How could one resist picking it up! Who, after all, could resist such a title? “The Disquiet of Men: in which we skirt tragedy, watch marriages wither, and seek direction while riding the rails.”
  • Issue Number Volume 70 Number 2
  • Published Date 2004
“Every story in this issue is redemptive,” promises Robert Stewart’s editorial note at the front of New Letters Volume 70, Number 2.
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  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Do dimensions matter? Most literary journals are considerably taller than they are wide, often in the 6 by 9-inch range. The New Orleans Review is a compact 5-3/4 by 6-3/4 inches. For this reader, the size has a focusing effect that magnifies the significance of the words, for better or worse. Also as a result of size there are only seven offerings therein, perhaps a budgetary decision, but in any case one that channels attention towards the text. Two short stories, conventional in structure but not in their degree of excellence, contend with five pieces that variously blur the lines between poetry, prose poems, fiction, and essay.
  • Issue Number Number 108
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Published at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, The New Quarterly is a handsome journal, obviously produced with great care, respect for the relationship between good reading and good design (short columns! white space!), and an appealing shape (think Brick or Tin House, but less bulky). I spent a long time appreciating the magazine’s physical appeal before I even began to take in the exceedingly good contents. Editor Kim Jerrigan tells us this issue’s theme is “Assorted Pedestrians,” a line from one of the stories featured in the issue, a theme borne out by intriguing photos of “human subjects” from Jonathon Bowman on the cover and title page.
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The official journal of the low-residency M.F.A. program at Murray State University, New Madrid “takes its name from the New Madrid seismic zone, which falls within the central Mississippi Valley and extends through western Kentucky.” Earthquakes within this region have caused the river to change course and after-effects have been felt as far away as New England. The quiet, honest intensity of the work in this issue is less explosive than a violent weather event to be sure, but powerful and lasting nonetheless. This issue includes the work of sixteen poets, including a special feature on “Emerging Poets,” four stories, an essay, and a couple of reviews. The work is steady, sturdy, and precise, careful work that takes itself seriously and encourages thoughtfulness and deliberate, attentive reading.
  • Issue Number Number 27
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue’s theme is “bridges and views,” introduced by a stunning and unusual cover photo that merges beautifully the concept of bridge and view – the relationship of structure to perspective. The image does not have the appearance of stock photography, though I was unable to find a reference to the photographer. These are, of course, rich, provocative, and perhaps even favorite topics for artists from all disciplines and genres.
  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date 2009
More props are in order for the inaugural issue of this Portland prose journal. The Ne'er-Do-Well carries itself like a zine, an enfant terrible sneering at the establishment as all rejected writers in tiny presses are wont to do. Founder Sheila Ashdown explains that her intention was to encourage writers struggling with doubt. To keep writing, she says, "requires a high threshold for psychic pain and awkward conversation."
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Starting a new publication, especially "in times like these" (TM), is a cause for congratulation, so here's celebrating the debut of Naugatuck River Review, "a journal of narrative poetry that sings." (Shouldn't all poetry?) The "narrative" label may bring to mind first person nature encounters and bittersweet childhood memories, and NRR contains its share. The real pleasures, though, are the memorable characters, the people whose lives show up in small glimpses between the lines. We meet a sawmill worker whose retirement ceremony belies his rough-and-tumble life, a bar patron who learns to resist being treated as an object and authors her own adventure, and a cross dresser who tries too hard to impress.
Reading the NYQ, founded in 1969 but new to me, I felt as I used to when I met a man I’d later love. At first it was not terribly attractive; I did not think it was my type. These poems were not what I’m usually drawn to – new formalism, or free verse in which formal elements break the surface like shark fins, or tight lyrics that startle like a butterfly rising, or narratives that travel some scenic route, climaxing, not toward resolution but breath…
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
NANO Fiction is a small booklet, not much bigger than the size of my hand, and only about sixty pages. A wistful-looking woman adorns the cover, her shock white hair blowing in the wind, looking forward; the surrealistic scene continues on the back where a girl has antlers growing out of her eyes, flowing to connect with the hair of the woman on the front. Swirling strokes of blues, greens, reds, oranges and yellows engulf the two figures. The artist, Nomi Meta-Mura, has three enigmatic black and white drawings in the journal. Enigma is appropriate for a journal that consists of short-shorts.
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  • Issue Number Volume 32 Number 2
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of New England Review has me very conflicted. There is work within that is both inspiring and inspired; however, it was a lot of work to get there as a reader. The versatility of the issue is astounding, considering the many diverse topics and themes covered in the publication. Usually, when I pick up a literary magazine, I expect the fiction and poetry to be the stars, yet in this issue of New England Review, the nonfiction and translations take center stage.
Lovers of the short story will cherish Night Train. Save a fascinating biographical essay on the late Richard Yates, this issue is entirely fiction. Kerry Jones’ “Rescue Effort” is a stunning opener. Using the second-person perspective, she eerily evokes her character’s haunted emotional state: “You watched him go, still loving him as his back drifted farther and farther away . . . and while something inside of you said you’d never be fine again, somehow that was all right.” And the stories only intensify after this masterful start, creating a veritable showcase of work rich in grace and humanity—and poetics too.
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  • Issue Number Volume 77 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
North Dakota Quarterly is a scholar’s delight. The well-chosen creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction are bookended by two incisive papers and eight book reviews. All of the work is informed by an interesting frame of reference; the beautiful Great Plains can be found in these pages, as can knowing glimpses of the rest of the world.
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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I am of the firm belief that all writers should read a lot. The problem with this is, most of us still schlep to “real jobs” and grab our writing time when we can—that hour after the kids go to bed, or early Sunday mornings, in the basement, when everyone else is still asleep. How are we expected to have time to read, for pity’s sake?
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  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The population of the Buckeye State is famously diverse, blending urban and rural, conservative and progressive. This diversity of perspectives is reflected in Issue 8 of the New Ohio Review. The editors eschew an opening comment, allowing the poetry, fiction and nonfiction to speak for itself.
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  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Imagine a roomy, comfortable venue somewhere in Knoxville, Tennessee. You’re there just in time for a marathon read-in: Fiction writers, memoirists, poets, almost 100 of them, coming up one after the other. There are widely published writers, college writing teachers, and students in MFA programs, and there are other folks who identify themselves as neurologists, gardeners, grandmothers, homebuilders. A couple of young people present their work for the very first time anywhere, and it’s good, and everyone applauds and encourages them: Keep writing, keep it up.
They say that good things come in small packages, and this gritty issue certainly backs up the claim. Neon is a perfect take-along for the train, bus or plane, tucked in a pocket or a bag, and will transport you to a world full of stark visuals, poetry and prose perfectly accompanied by sharp black and white photography.
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  • Issue Number Issue 35
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Neon hails from the UK where Editor Krishan Coupland accepts works from around the globe. Neon favors literary and slipstream short-form writing: “We err towards the dark, and like to experiment with language and form” with “a particular taste for the apocalyptic.” Dark and apocalyptic has never been my style, so it makes me wonder how I found such comfort in much of what I read here.
  • Subtitle Hemingway: Life and Art
  • Issue Number Volume 70 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2003
This special issue of NDQ, more than three hundred pages long, covers Hemingway’s involvement with the theater, his 1935 trip to China, his relationships with nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and “spiritual kid brother” Arnold Samuelson, and much more. (Don’t miss Heidi Brotton Hudson’s linoleum-block print of a reflective Hemingway looking down, which seems somehow more essential than all the handsome hale fellow photographs we’ve seen.) There’s even a scholarly examination of why the film In Love and War (starring Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell) failed so miserably (it jettisoned the “literary underpinnings” that might have given it weight and substance).
  • Issue Number Volume 75 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
My favorite part of North Dakota Quarterly is the “sea changes” – poetic little narratives about books that changed the reader’s (now the writer’s) life (way of thinking). This issue is swimming in fine poems, stories, and essays, nonetheless, I am most taken with these musings about “books that matter” and appreciate the chance to engage with something that is part personal essay, part “lit crit” of a sort, part book review, and part something new, a kind of “moment in time” memoir, for as the editors explain in their note, “the impact of a book depends not only on how it is read but when” (emphasis theirs). Fred Arroyo discusses V.S. Naipul. Robert Lacy explores his relationship with Joyce. Richard C. Kane considers Bruce Chatwin. Engaging, too, in the same way is Patrick Madden’s “Divers Weights and Divers Measures,” an essay of observations and musings about encounters with people in Montevideo, bookended by a consideration of the work of the prolific, insightful, and influential Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.
  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle annual
Tyranny. Power. Virulence. Virile. Vigorous. Vivid. I finally found my way from the authority to mastery. The New York Tyrant is, if nothing, both powerful (read strong language, strong images, strong opinions) and masterful (read self-assured, forceful, and determined). It’s also virile in a more conventional sense (predominately male contributors) and in a literary sense (muscular, aggressive).
  • Issue Number Volume 75 Number 1
  • Published Date 2008-2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
We enter our 75th year true to our mission, with three newer voices in fiction – Olufunke Grace Bankole, Ryan Clary, and Stephanie Powell Watts, who have no books yet but surely will – and one voice established and admired – a poet, essayist, and storyteller – Paul Zimmer…The same variety occurs among the poets and essayists – each generation of literary writer offering hope that we need not stay in the realm of ideology or ideas, but can move to something deeper, more human, more fun.
  • Issue Number Volume 29
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Fifteen pages devoted to a new translation of Jean de la Fontaine’s 17th century fables in verse (translated by Craig Hill)? How could these little tales of “country wisdom” interest me, I wondered? Wow, did I rush to a hasty and erroneous judgment! This is marvelous stuff. An impressive translation of work that is much more engaging and original than I remembered from college French classes. Difficult work, this example of “Revisitations,” as this section of the journal is called – verse that rhymes to mirror the original with precision, grace, and panache. And de la Fontaine’s little stories aren’t half bad either! These translations are from a full-length collection of the fables out this past fall from Arcade with illustrations – imagine! – by Edward Gorey.
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Anyone wishing to peek into the future of the online literary magazine needs only to pull this one up on their screen. There is a brief signing up process and then an impressive array of work that is available for the choosing. This particular issue has fiction, nonfiction, poetry, “features,” and one “classic,” which happens to be an essay on writing by W. H. Auden. To keep one further entertained, the website has cartoons that are changed regularly, a “ Poem of the Week,” and a “Story of the Week.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 14
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In the most recent issue of New Ohio Review (NOR), the editors feature a series of “Translation Cruxes,” inspiring meditations on the method by which we are able to access voices from afar. The trick, of course, is that the journal is full of translations—maybe not in the nature of the subjunctive, but rather in the way feelings are translated.
Bristling with the work of thirty-four different poets, this issue of Notre Dame Review is mostly blank verse, all of it enjoyable, and much of it breathtaking. I was most amazed by Beth Ann Fennelly’s long, sober, meditative piece, “The Presentation,” a title deriving from the hospital procedure of showing a stillborn infant to its mother. “Within hours, within you, / the cell, smaller than a decimal point, / began its long division. / But you know how unforgiving / math can be. Just one small mistake / and it won’t add up.”
This is a journal that prides itself on taking risks and elevating the new. In this case, one of the new things it introduces us to is the poetry of Picasso, featured across seventeen pages, in translation, with lines like “III and in the organ fry up the dead leaves/ II that draw blood/ III that the lake’s light astonishes/ I and makes sing.”
The debut issue of this attractive, glossy saddle-stitched review features poems by the likes of A.E. Stallings, Molly Peacock and Annie Finch. The National Poetry Review “favors formal verse” as demonstrated in these lyric lines by Ellen Kirvin Dudis from her poem “Betta Splendens”: “Love never offers. I see another, / not the other. Nights, I rise for air / -O lost lagoon, O submerged fire- / and on three inches of water / float these kisses. Your heart’s no larger than the jar.”
  • Issue Number Volume 74 Number 1
  • Published Date 2007/2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Robert Stewart, the editor of New Letters, begins this issue with a note on the kind of writing the journal seeks. In his words, “We want writing….that comes out of something.” Writing that is real. That kind of intensity is felt in the opening work of fiction by Andrew Plattner, a short story entitled “A Marriage of Convenience,” where the reader is introduced to two brothers, Marian and Joe, who are bookmakers with, it turns out, enormous hearts. Marian, the older brother and supposedly the tough guy, wonders at one point, “why he was a bookmaker, why he spent so much time in the shadows, why he liked to keep the odds on his side.” Maybe, he wonders, “it wouldn’t find him, all that people lost.” What is so wonderful about this piece is Plattner’s narrative pacing, which makes the ending feel unexpected and exactly right.
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  • Issue Number Number 114
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Why I adored this issue of the New Quarterly:
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  • Issue Number Volume 79 Number 2
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
To what extent do literature and journalism perform the same work? Editor Robert Stewart prefaces this issue of New Letters with a brief comment that considers the relationship between these separate fields that may not be so separate. Stewart quotes Philip Roth speaking in an installment of American Masters: “There’s a journalistic side to writing novels.” Stewart goes a step further, asserting that “we don’t hear the word journalism often enough in literary discussions . . .” Writers of fiction need “the facts to present the story; literary journalists and memoirists need the story to present the facts.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I can’t speak for anyone else, but the New England Review represents so much of what I hope to be when I grow up. In addition to choosing high-quality fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction to represent the present and future of literature, the New England Review also features scholarly material that puts the writing of the past into context.
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  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 3
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In these oh-so-unsettled times, I like to have something I can rely on. New England Review never lets me down. I know the quality of the writing will always be strong, serious, sophisticated, and that there will always be something unexpected, fresh without trying to impress. This issue lives up to the task – a good portion of the issue is devoted to an essay by the late critic and editor Ted Solotaroff (1928-2008), along with brief reflections of Solotaroff by more than a dozen and a half writers, editors, and literary colleagues. These remembrances are preceded by a long excerpt from Solotaroff’s, “The Literary Scene Changes,” an unfinished, unpublished memoir (his third). I enjoyed very much these personal recollections from Philip Roth, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Robert Stone, Robert Cohen, Hilma Wolitzer, Gerald Stern, Bobbie Ann Mason, Georges Borchardt, Gerald Howard, James Lasdun, Jill Schoolman, Russell Banks, Anton Shammas, Hy Enzer, Irene Skolnick, Douglas Unger, Allegra Goodman, Ehud Havazelet, and Max Apple. The diversity of ages, genres, and types of relationships to Solotaroff makes this little collection of tributes all the more appealing.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
As the average attention span continues to decrease and the printed page is replaced by the teeny tiny screen, practitioners of flash fiction seem poised to take advantage of this evolution. The editors of NANO Fiction take the idea one step further. While many flash fiction narratives extend into the several hundreds of words, the stories in this volume are far shorter. The great struggle for the writer is to increase the potency of their narratives as the word count decreases.
  • Issue Number Number 24
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2007
As a student of both Russian culture and language, I was pleased to read the explanations of icons by both John Kinsella and Alexander Deriev in this issue of The Notre Dame Review themed “Icons & Incomings.” Even Russian natives debate endlessly the definition and purpose of icons, so it was helpful that this issue contains some of Deriev’s icons and Russian poems to illustrate and enhance Deriev’s observations about icons.
  • Issue Number Volume 32
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fiction, verse, prose poems, book reviews, and black-and-white photography burst from the nearly 200 pages of this journal, which has been published since 1968 by Loyola University New Orleans. If by looking at this journal we were to gauge the events in the Big Easy, Hurricane Katarina would have been a whisper. Among the poems are works by David Welch, Haine Easton, and Arielle Greenberg. The editors have pointed to two poetry features that focus on the works of Endi Hartigan and Molly Lou Freeman. In such selections as “Owl,” “Icestorm,” and “Avalanches,” Hardigan considers the intersections of natural forces.
  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Appropriately, this issue begins with Jan Wildt’s brief but interesting essay on the intersection between mainstream literature and science fiction. Justifiably vaunted writers such as Pynchon, Vidal, Atwood and Lethem have been shortlisted for the Nebula Award, yet few would label them as SF writers. Does genre fiction deserve a different standing in our contemporary canon?
Excellent fiction. Those two words sum up everything that Night Train is about. There is no poetry and only two pieces of non-fiction here, an Amy Bloom interview and a segment on the city of Petaluma, California. Otherwise we have eighteen solid short stories that work with a range of styles and topics.
  • Subtitle Canadian Writers & Writing
  • Issue Number Number 92
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2004/2005
As far as fiction goes, this issue of The New Quarterly is in a class of its own. The prose was consistently precise and original, the stories themselves well-crafted and well-developed. In fact, as I read these stories in a chronological order from front to back, it repeatedly seemed as if the following story far outshone the previous, as if the magazine simply surged forward with an ever increasing and ever impressive quality.
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  • Issue Number Number 37
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“What’s Up?” is the title of this issue; on Robert Kareka’s cover, “Muddy Feet” are up, waving around in beachy air. But a lot more is up, too. Most of the time, the appeal of literature is its pointing beyond itself, like a Zen finger, to the “world under the world.” Language’s gaps and leaps, the cumulative sound and meaning of particular arrangements of words, lead us past mere materiality into the reality behind it, so that we close the pages transported and enlarged, though we couldn’t put our finger on the exact paragraph that did the trick.
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  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The 2013 issue of The Nassau Review revolves around the theme of “Ekphrasis” or descriptions of other works of art. Each piece in this issue stays true to the theme and gives the reader things to think about on multiple levels. The work in the journal will make the reader not only contemplate what the piece of art they are reading is doing, but it will force the reader to meditate on the implications the work has on another body of work, be it a painting, an instructional manual, a pornographic magazine, or a sculpture. In many instances, the reader will be asked to consider the act of creating in and of itself.
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  • Issue Number Volume 56 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Read vertically top to bottom, the final words of the lines of Ronald Wallace’s “Sex at Seventy” form this haiku by Issa:
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  • Issue Number Volume 54 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Nimrod’s eagerly anticipated annual awards issue features prize winners, finalists, semi-finalists, and honorable mentions in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction: Terry Blackhawk, Shannon Robinson, Harry Bauld, Lydia Kann, Dan Kelty, Deborah DeNicola, Morris Collins, Sue Pace, Jude Nutter, Francine Marie Tolf, Ed Frankel, William Pitt Root, Laura LeCorgne, Andrea L. Watson, Usha Akella, Mark Wagenaar, Kate Fetherston, and Pamela Davis. Their work is accompanied by poems and stories by several dozen other poets and prose writers, including the amazingly prolific poet Linda Pastan, widely published poet Richard Terrill, and several fine translations of poetry originally published in Turkish and German.
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 4
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Although the New England Review contains mainly poetry and prose, I thought the highlight of this issue were the nonfiction pieces.
  • Issue Number Volume 73 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
While this journal’s academic covers do little to counter the misperception that the Plains are plain, NDQ’s ninety-six-year publishing history does. This issue’s highlight is “Holy Socks.” After her father, an Ohio minister, endured a lobotomy that permanently confined him to a hospital, Constance Studer, a nursing student, breaks hospital regulation to gather information and portrays a family broken by “the cure” as well as the fine line dividing some peoples’ spirituality from psychosis. “White Meat of Chicken, Flowing Streams of Milk” excerpts a memoir about a Southern expatriate’s life in the Dakota oilfields with his beloved Boston Terrier.
  • Issue Number Volume 73
  • Published Date 2006/2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This elegant, high-quality journal has a little bit of everything: fiction, poetry, essays, book reviews, and striking art in the form of black and white photographs of Uganda by Gloria Baker Feinstein. In one of these, school children look sternly into the camera, as if demanding to know the photographer’s reason for taking these pictures; in another, they seem to offer her a flower. The two essays, though very different in style and subject, are the most engaging pieces. “Recovering Robinson,” a biographical sketch of poet Edward Arlington Robinson, recounts high and low points in Robinson’s career and conveys the nature of his craft and aspirations in a conversational manner that made me want to pour the writer, Scott Donaldson, another glass of wine and ask him to keep talking. “Portrait of a Homeless Art History Student,” by Andrew T. McCarter, is riskier work, told in second person:
  • Issue Number Volume 27
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
New England Review is known for its excellence. A highly selective journal, the fiction and poetry found in its pages not only point to the writers who are at the fore of their genres but also to the direction the fields are heading. The editors seem to prefer poems and stories that break with tradition without sacrificing craft. Stephen O’Connor’s short story “Bestiary” would be an example.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date October 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
My heart leapt at the title of this poetry journal, at the thought of one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems granted prominence in the title, promising readers a connection to this master. The poets granted space in this issue exhibit a level of skill bordering on Dickinson’s inimitable greatness, some stopping just short of poems that endure and take the breath away.
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  • Issue Number Volume 48 Number 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
In this era of short attention spans, multi-tasking, split screen viewing, fast food, speed dial, and the quick fix, I admire Northwest Review’s daring: this issue features three very long short stories (Charlie Smith’s “We’re Passing Through a Paradise” is nearly 50 pages) and a lengthy essay by poet Eavan Boland (just under 20 pages). The work of 15 poets rounds out the issue.
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  • Issue Number Volume 76 Number 4
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
“Flight in Word and Deed” is the theme to this issue—transcendence, explains editor Robert Stewart. His introduction is, nonetheless, a defense of the grounded nature of the literary journal as an object, something “weighty” we can hold in our hands. (“As America gets fatter, it seems to want its art to become weightless,” he writes of e-books and cyber publications). He doesn’t need to convince me that the printed page, the bound volume, the variation in texture from the uncoated paper of the pages containing stories and poems to the glossy coated stock of the extraordinary reproductions of paintings by Fabian Debora are worth their weight in pixels, providing a kind of pleasure hard to replicate in digital spheres.
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  • Issue Number Volume 7 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2010-11
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This is one gigantic Happy Meal of an issue! Or maybe it’s more like Cracker Jacks—that surprise at the bottom of the box that sweetens the whole crunchy-munchy experience. The editors call these goodies “Supplements,” but they are integral to the whole gestalt. The magazine comes shrink-wrapped with a motel key-fob, a pink striped birthday candle inside a small seed envelope, a postcard with an illustration of a take-out dish of “Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato Combination,” a “Newspoem” by William Gillepsie on a skinny folded sheet, an enormous “Corn in the USA” diagram, and a variety of other illustrations, texts, and diagrams on different types of paper stock, which adds to the tactile/sensual pleasure of print. The Art Director’s note explains: “By unwrapping the contents of this issue, you have dislodged the original cover design and set in motion an unpacking of parts that together create a kind of landscape within which the stories, essays, and poems can situate themselves.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 77 Number 1
  • Published Date 2010-11
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Here is what I appreciate about New Letters: “a whispery shriek like cracked clarinet reeds.” That’s a characterization, by the first person narrator, of the voice of a character in Abby Frucht’s story “Tamarinds,” and if you know anything about clarinets it will be music to your ears. It’s that precision, and the unique and exacting sensibility of New Letters’s writers, that I anticipate and am perpetually grateful to encounter. The writing is unceasingly original, competent, and always worth my time.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
America is the land of reinvention: we love people and institutions that arise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of their old selves, glittering and new. Now New South, a dazzling literary magazine out of Georgia State University, has joined the ranks of Madonna, the U.S. Mint, and other such American institutions. Formerly GSU Review, New South’s inaugural issue features a snazzy red plane flanked by two smaller planes, jetting into a future that looks wide open.
  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Night Train is 175 pages of prose – presumably fiction – with an interview of Chimamanda Ngozi Lockett and an essay on the history of Normal, Illinois. I can’t decipher a theme nor can I give any sweeping summary about this issue. Instead, here’s a list of quotes that represent the variety of stories and voices. “Where a woman might look even beatific with all mouths open, a man – even a handsome man, with a broad jaw, solid chest and a stomach you could use as a spice rack – even that man, masturbating, looks like an imbecile.” That’s from Grant Bailie’s “You Are One Click Away from Pictures of Naked Girls,” whose narrator is more concerned with his clumsiness regarding sex rather than internet porn.
  • Issue Number Number 38
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
tnr is truly an international journal, featuring in this issue the written work and artwork of people from over a dozen countries. Translations of poems from Bengali, Bosnian, and Spanish sit side by side with original English-language works. Among the poems, which include works by Stephen Todd Booker, Alice Jay, Luis Miguel Aguilar, and others, “This Shooting” by Bosnian writer Marko Vešovi? is particularly compelling. With his translation of Hanns Heinz Ewers’s (1871-1943 ) “Abenteuer in Hamburg,” Don Maurer also gifts Anglophones with the quirky tale of a man obsessed with using the new invention of the era – a mechanical pencil sharpener – to sharpen his cache of “723 almost complete ones, 641 halves, and 379 stumpchens.
  • Issue Number Volume 42 Number 2
  • Published Date May 2004
I find it impossible not to love – or at least admire – Northwest Review for allocating an entire white page to this epigraph by Leonard Bernstein: “Our response to violence will be to make music more intensely, more beautifully and more devotedly than before.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
As an avid reader of flash fiction, I’ve long admired the diversity of writing featured in NANO Fiction. The journal’s 500-word ceiling for stories results in a showcase of quick, narrative-driven flash as well as prose that lingers with a heavy dose of lyricality. It ranges in genre from what we might call realist flash to work that is much more surreal, and everything in between. Through it all, the journal values work featuring language that is playful, explorative, and sharp.
New York Quarterly has emerged as not only a fine journal of poetry, but a publication that explores the state of contemporary poetry, the elements of craft, and the poet’s life. The latest edition begins with a craft interview, a regular feature in NYQ, with W.D. Snodgrass, followed by three of his poems.
  • Issue Number Number 14
  • Published Date Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Natural Bridge, a beautiful journal produced by the University of Missouri-St. Louis, is guest edited by Ruth Ellen Kocher and explores the theme “fragment and sequence.” The roster of contributors includes both established writers like Denise Duhamel and Timothy Liu and lesser known authors. The locales are exotic and varied—Iraq, Bombay, Mexico, Romania—and much of the fiction involves domestic life.
  • Subtitle At Kings Park
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2004
Although the holiday season is over, there were several times while reading Night Train that I wanted to jump up and shout, “Joy to the World!” The fiction is just that good. Both editors and writers are to be congratulated for this impressive reading experience.
Natural Bridge always has substantial offerings, but this issue has some stunners: Alice Ayers’ short story, “Barney,” is a gorgeous second-person evocation to a man about to submerge a profound part of himself in marriage to a woman whose maidenly abode featured lace doilies and was “so pointedly virginal it obviously covered something.
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  • Issue Number Volume 8 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2011 - 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Ninth Letter has a reputation. It’s the exuberant, popular-as-a-result-of-being-odd kid on this gigantic playground of literary magazines. It’s the kid you want to camp out with, eating cheese puffs and limeade, snorting over politically fueled fart jokes that are at the same time above your understanding and hilarious. The front and back covers offer photographic evidence of what this kid might look like at his senior prom, ironically carrying an orchid and non-ironically wearing a glittered turtleneck under a glittered blazer. But once you get past this exterior, this metaphorical playground persona, the brilliance of the work inside dominates all reputation. The fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art are some of the finest I have experienced all year. I read each piece with energy and took each one as inspiration and aspiration.
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  • Issue Number Volume 78 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In his editor’s note, Robert Stewart reveals that this most recent issue of New Letters may “expose idealists among us.” Those idealists certainly include the martyr poet Jose Domingo Gomez Rojas. His poetry inspired Pablo Neruda and, more recently, New Letters contributors Thomas E. Kennedy and Raymond B. Craib. Through their fiction, essays, and translation of Rojas’s poems, Kennedy and Craib give us the opportunity to hear the voice Chile’s prisons could not silence, the “tender cry that still beats in cradles, / Of the divine voices that vibrate in the pure / sky beneath the light of virgin moons.”
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  • Issue Number Number 32
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Notre Dame Review is a sophisticated, erudite lit mag, not always an easy read, certainly not a quick one. “Our goal,” says the website, “is to present a panoramic view of contemporary art and literature—no one style is advocated over another. We are especially interested in work that takes on big issues by making the invisible seen.” This is an apt goal given the theme of the issue—The Gone Show—and how its contents reveal subject matter that seems to have disappeared, making it visible again.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Coming from the low-residency Master of Fine Arts program at Murray State University in Kentucky, this issue of New Madrid includes several stories that show how powerfully style can be used to concentrate narrative force.
  • Issue Number Volume 52 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Nimrod is a journal that has a long tradition of publishing the finest works to come out of the contemporary Mexico scene. Following that custom is the Spring/Summer 2009 issue, the third issue in Nimrod’s history to be devoted to Mexican writers. This issue is difficult to discuss succinctly – the writers are numerous (well over 50 contributors are included here) and their work is enormous (everything from borders to migration to the meaning of change is covered) – but let’s give it the old college try.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I usually try not to pigeon-hole magazines into a theme, but with this issue, it’s difficult not to do so! Clearly, there is a bird theme flapping its wings in this issue, from the multi-media “Penguins” cover art, to the more than a handful of stories that were cleverly pecked and then nestled together in this charming and diverse journal. And it just so happens that many of my favorite pieces of the issue were the ones which involved birds.
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  • Issue Number Number 3
  • Published Date May 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
My first impression of Niche was: it is great to look at. Like that initial, hormonal attraction when you meet someone new, I was drawn in instantly, ready to say, “I’d like to get to know you.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date June 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue of New Delta Review (NDR) features the winners of the 2012 Matt Clark Prize in Fiction and Poetry and Creative Nonfiction Contest. This contest is in honor of Matt Clark, a coordinator of creative writing at Louisiana State University that died from colon cancer at the age of thirty-one. “Fascinated by tall tales and urban legends, Matt was in the process of inventing a new kind of Southwest magical realism, part Mark Twain, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In his honor, NDR sponsors the Matt Clark Prize in fiction and poetry.”
  • Issue Number Volume 289 Number 6
  • Published Date November-December 2004
One of the only literary magazines in the United States to resemble in physical format a standard mainstream magazine, North American Review cannot be found on any newsstands, but is sold entirely by mail order. That the magazine simultaneously happens to be the oldest of its kind in the nation speaks impressively to the emphatic approval of a devoted subscription base. The back cover of this issue bears a facsimile of a handwritten note by Thomas Jefferson, regarding payment arrangements for his subscription for the year 1825. This issue contains 4 short stories, 4 nonfiction pieces, 3 reviews, and 21 poems.
New England Review continues to uphold its reputation for publishing extraordinary, enduring work. Jane Hirshfield’s wise and compassionate poem “In a Room with Five People, Six Griefs” is a distillation of the overlarge experience of being human into a few simple-seeming sentences that tell our grief and fear and anger, yet leave open “A door through which time / changer of everything / can enter.” Richard Wollman’s fiercely affecting “Paper in Autumn” resurrects one family from the fire of the Holocaust.
  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Reminiscent of The Paris Review or, to a lesser extent, Western Humanities Review or The New Yorker, New England Review asserts itself as a dense academic journal that takes itself as seriously as academia tends to take itself. And that’s pretty serious. The journal’s subscription tear-out reads, assuredly, “Look to NER for the challenges your taste requires.” After a billboard like that, false advertising is pretty much out of the question.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Here is what to like about the Summer 2012 issue of New Haven Review:
  • Issue Number Volume 7
  • Published Date 2007
Reading the latest installment of Noon, I began to frame the not-at-all-uncomfortable impression that this journal, strange as it may seem, shares its design aesthetic with McSweeney’s. This isn’t obvious from the content (though the likes of Tao Lin, Deb Olin Unferth and Sam Lipsyte, might encourage such misconceptions) as much as through Noon’s insistence on importing iconographic singularity (read: noble) into the chirographic (read: agricultural) sphere of influence. In McSweeney’s these concerns are presented dualistically; you have your journal, it comes in a box or an envelope or with magnets or paperclips, you recall Dada and Aspen Magazine, you chuckle, and move on to the stories. Noon’s format, by contrast, is relatively straightforward: cover art, stories, long photographic portfolio, occasional drawings. At the same time, the rhythm and tone of the stories give the impression of tiptoeing from painting to painting in a modern art gallery. Many movements tangle in Noon: minimalism (Tao Lin and Greg Mulchay), Dadaism (Lypsite’s “The Illuminated Aisle Carpet”), Pop-Art (Laurence A. Peacock’s “The Palmer System”), and, most impressively, Clancy Martin’s Art Brut-inspired “Dirty Work.” Swaddled in a heavy-paper cover and containing an addendum explaining typeface history, it seemed clear that this journal was striving to remain a lasting object itself. This is particularly rare in the realm of experimental literature, where venues like Conjunctions or Sleeping Fish are designed more to dissuade the power of the image or ignore it altogether, conceiving the book pragmatically, as a vehicle for the presentation of printed matter.
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2006-07
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Ninth Letter is an impressive machine. No expense was spared in design or production. A few ground rules before putting this thing in gear: No sipping tea or coffee while reading its contents, because, like piloting a big rig down the highway, Ninth Letter requires both hands. Open up and hold on. Your attention is no longer yours. Fiction takes off with Rachel Cantor’s “Zanzibar, Bereft,” the story of a story in search of and in conflict with itself, seeks growth and also desires the clean definition of identity.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
New Ohio Review (/nor) clearly states, “This year we are particularly, though not exclusively, interested in innovative and cross-genre work that blurs conventional boundaries and resists easy definition.” /nor succeeds on all accounts. /nor is allusive, elusive, packed with experimental poetry, essays, fiction, philosophy, and everything in between – at once lyrical and pushing the boundaries of meaning, drawing from any and every source, exploring as well as indulging the natural slippage of language and the shifty exchange of meaning and context, where form is often as informative as text. One such example is Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s poem,“Draft 68: Threshold,” wherein words and, increasingly, entire lines and almost whole stanzas are blacked out as though at the hand of a censor, some silencing Other. This censorship leaves a “twist[ed] discourse,” “obliterates statement,” but ultimately is self-defeating, as what is blacked-out – these “wordless words” – becomes more interesting and more beautiful than what neutralized scraps are left.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of the attractive journal, New Madrid – named for the seismic zone of the central Mississippi Valley and published by Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky – is devoted to writing by former teachers at Murray State.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 5
  • Published Date July 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
Unfortunately, this is the last issue of NAP. As they said on their Facebook page in June, “Nap wants you to know that quitters never win so don’t be like NAP and don’t be a quitter.” But their last issue is certainly not filled with quitter writers.
The cover of this New Letters issue features a mural detail in which a face in a mirror mimics its own act of reflection, soliciting your gaze and shooting it right back to you. Inside the issue, broader sections of Luis Quintanilla’s frank, witty frescoes with a Don Quixote theme (fear no macho kitsch here) are enhanced by commentary from both the exiled Spanish artist and his son.
Formatted like a slick cosmopolitan magazine, this quirky, subversive offering out of Canada includes comics, poems, art work, fiction, and essays, all of which were weird, humorous, or some combination of the two. They also feature sci-fi and horror genre work. One of their stated goals is to include writers from all over, and it seems they succeeded, as I count five countries represented on two pages at one point. As a lover of literary comics, I have to say my favorite comic from this issue was that depicting a tyrannosaurus rex’s search for God, which was attributed to a web site www.qwantz.com and a Canadian author named Ryan North. Of the poems, I particularly liked the prose poem “She Tried to Teach Me Poetry” by Karina Sumner-Smith, which begins:
  • Issue Number Number 65
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
To start at the ending, I loved Melanie Lynn Moro-Huber’s straightforward essay “Checking the Pulse of Poetry Today,” in which Moro-Huber attempts to assess the value of poetry in contemporary culture. Beginning with a brief conversation with her husband, who sees little to no value in poetry, and continuing on with anyone who will listen, Moro-Huber receives a variety of responses from the owner of a music store, a fellow shopper at the local Walmart, MFA students, and academics. I loved the casual tone of Moro-Huber’s essay and the quirkiness of her approach, such as when she reiterates her husband’s response that “Poetry hits you in the nuts or it doesn’t.”
  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If you love Polish Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska’s work as I do, you’ll love this issue which features the poet’s work, along with ten brief essays that “consider” her writing and influence from Lawrence Raab, Carl Dennis, Sally Ball, Kathy Fagan, Jennifer Clarvoe, William Olsen, Michelle Boisseau, Rachel Wetzsteon, Marianne Boruch, and Tony Hoagland. Olsen describes Szymborska’s poems as “a little off to the side,” ironic not as “cosmic betrayals,” but as “human fictions.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I can’t really think of any topic more important right now than this issue’s theme, “the dynamics of wealth and poverty.” Editor Ann Neelon reminds us that the theme, in and of itself, assumes an awful lot: “The assumption is that there IS a dynamics of wealth and poverty – i.e. as opposed to a rigid inherited class structure” (I’m inclined to believe the latter is more accurate), and she is, with good reason, concerned about the disturbing statistics in the region where the magazine is published: “Kentucky is the fifth-poorest state: 23 percent of the poor are children, 30 percent are African American, 27 percent are Hispanic and 30 percent have less than a high school education.” She wonders where all the money has gone. And she is convinced, nonetheless, that the poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in this issue “will help us to…redefine ourselves in the wake of our incursion into near-apocalyptic economic territory.” I hope she is right, but if she is not, it won’t be for lack of originality, creativity, or insights.
  • Issue Number Volume 74 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2007
The North Dakota Quarterly’s mix of essays, memoirs, poems, fiction, and reviews forms a pleasing whole. A lot of the pieces in this issue revolve around a description of a place or landscape. This trend begins in the first short story “Zulu” by Karen Alpha in which the plains of Alberta form the backdrop of a love story between a horse and a zebra. Karen Babine very overtly continues this theme in her essay, “Sligo: Yeats and the Theology of Place.” She specifically discusses sacred places, “places where the physical and the spiritual cannot be separated…visible signs of invisible grace.” Four poetry selections by Marilyn Dorf describe dusk, harvest and spring in a country setting. In “In the Green of the Year,” she uses her title as a refrain, weaving in and out of beautiful natural images: “In the green of the year…the willow bows / in the direction of rain, / the air mushroom-soft, / and the bay mare / at the barnyard gate / watching for the one who will feed her.” Molly Cooney’s “Lining” describes a river trip and the landscape of the Canadian Artic; in Melodie Edwards’ story “Nightplain” a river is the focal landscape for a daughter searching for her father.
  • Issue Number Volume 51 Issue 29th Annual Awards I Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This awards issue of Nimrod represents the work of forty-nine writers, including an interview with U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall in which he suggests we are seeing a surge in poetry’s readership and notes his fondness for poetry that “thrills in the mouth.” Given the sheer number of poems and short stories that received awards in this issue, it is difficult to highlight particular pieces.
  • Issue Number Number 102
  • Published Date Spring 2007
Flipping through this issue of TNQ, the first thing I notice is the offbeat, quirky whimsicality of Charles Checkett’s cartoons. Highlighted in a 16-page color spread, these caricature drawings of iconic Canadian figures (Neil Young, Elvis Stojko, etc.) lend a dash of frivolity to a magazine that is quite serious about promoting Canadian voices.
  • Issue Number Volume 31
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
"The peculiar virtue of New Orleans…may be that of the Little Way, a talent for everyday life rather than the heroic deed," Walker Percy wrote in 1968, in an essay first published in Harper's and reprinted in this issue of the New Orleans Review, which includes work solely by writers with deep connections to New Orleans.
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  • Issue Number Issue 9
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“Symposium: Poems Disliked, Poems Loved” is advertised on the cover, so it’s hard to pay attention to much else before turning immediately to the back of the magazine, where the special feature is located, to find out who is willing declare their dislike of certain poems or types of poetry in a public forum. The journal asked poets Wayne Miller, Helen Nelson, and David Rivard to present for discussion a “bad poem” (“weak or shallow or disappointing”) and a “good poem” (not defined!). The poets then “conversed” about these six poems via e-mail.
  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date Summer 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
At first glance, the content of New Genre looks just as its title asserts: a super modern magazine fitted out with cutting edge writing and concerns. This impression is accurate. Take “A Sing Economy” by Adam Golaski, for example. Golaski attempts to explain the plight of the poet in a money-based society. Golaski disagrees with the attitude that such writers, those of short stories included, are to blame for their pitiful financial situation. It is in fact marketable print that lowers the overall intelligence of the population – or specifically the population’s ability to actually recognize thought-provoking writing – and the responsibility for that sorry state of affairs rests with publishers not writers. Golaski says: “Blame the publishers, then blame the editors, then blame the writers, and not the other way around.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Ninth Letter, entering its tenth year with this issue, is published by the University of Illinois, with faculty directing a large corps of students in presenting work from established and emerging writers. The magazine has a reputation for being ambitious, brash, lively and visually challenging, and this issue lives up to the reputation. You may not find everything to your liking, but Ninth Letter will reward the time you spend finding out.
  • Issue Number Number 22
  • Published Date Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In this issue’s engaging and entertaining interview with novelist Lance Olsen, conducted by Renée E. D’Aoust, Olsen dismisses prose he considers to be “the art of consolation and solace” and describes the texts that excite him most: “…the ones that impede easy accessibility, move us into regions of disturbance, make us feel the opposite of comfortable…I can’t imagine a more important role for writing. Wake up, wake up, wake up, the more important of it says.”
  • Issue Number Number 18
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Editor Steve Schreiner opens this issue of  Natural Bridge with a reference to Poe’s explanation of human temptation, that our “spirit of the Perverse” pushes us to “perpetuate actions to our peril simply because we feel that we should not.” The "Temptation Issue" offers many representations of this concept, from the swarming guppies in the late Dale Denny’s “Big Aquarium,” to the breast milk in James Vescovi’s “La Leche is Good for You,” to sticking one’s tongue to a cold porch railing in Amy M. Clark’s “Dumb.”
  • Issue Number Volume 72 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2005
North Dakota Quarterly is a sprawling academic journal—it has expanded by 50 pages since I reviewed it last year—but it knows how to put its enormity to good use. Thoughtful essays, reviews, and criticism are givens, but this issue gives opportunity to illuminate the fiction and poetry that tends to get overshadowed. The highlight is three short stories, three, by Robert Day. While two of them are fairly cosmopolitan, the other one, “The One-man Woodcutter Meets His Widowmaker,” decidedly belongs to the rugged West.
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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
One of my favorite things about The Normal School is that the editors are so willing to try something new, but they never leave the reader behind. Managing Editor Sophie Beck and her team begin a new experiment in this issue, adding recurring columns: Joe Bonomo will write about music, William Bradley will take on comics, and Phillip Lopate will submit musings about films.
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  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I loved learning that New Madrid (emphasis on “mad”) is named for a seismic zone in Mississippi and Kentucky where, in 1811-12, four earthquakes struck of such magnitude that they changed the course of the Mississippi River. Great power follows the name of such a place!
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  • Issue Number Number 30
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The cover of this slim volume (nine poems, three short stories, one great interview) depicts an ethereal white horse splashing in, or wading through, or rising up from, blue waves of grass against a stark black background. The spine is the blue of the grass; the title is the white of the horse. The whole effect is classy and dreamlike at the same time, a little like the contents of the journal—an image you want to remember, and yet it doesn’t feel quite like home.
You gotta love a journal that covers such a broad range of poetic styles. New York Quarterly has all the bases covers: Traditional sonnet? Check. Prose poem? Check. Bukowski poem? Stand-up poem? Found poem? Check, check, check.
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  • Issue Number Volume 55 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In "Mothman's Guide to the Here & Hereafter" Mark Wagenaar says, "All language is survival.” "All language is the revelation of our essence." This 33rd prize issue of Nimrod cries out yes! yes! look here! in affirmation of Wagenaar's lines. Every year, Nimrod awards the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry; Amy Bloom and Linda Pastan were the 2011 judges for these respective prizes, and the results are breathtaking. Even the non-prizewinners are winners, offering evidence of our survival beyond time, in language that sings the essence of temporal humanness. A few examples:
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  • Issue Number Number 23
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Guest editor Nanora Sweet defines this issue’s special section on Writing/Politics/Status/Gender as “driven by gender in a political year…a body politic(s) knit tenuously together by that most gendered set of relationships, of family.” Her selection of family-themed poetry, fiction, and essays is largely of work I would describe as affable without being cloying, sometimes deceptively casual while possessing deeper implications, and eminently readable.
  • Issue Number Volume 46 Number 2
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This issue of Northwest Review features “essays, fiction, and poetry on aneurysms, arrhythmia, adolescence and other afflictions.” What caught my eye – and stoked my envy as a writer – was the excellent fiction.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Only one issue into its run, The Normal School has an enviable hit/miss ratio to go along with the ambition behind the magazine’s creation. The fiction, poetry and nonfiction between the covers inspire the reader to question “their own motives, sense of place, or quantum mechanics and the boundaries of art.” In more plebian terms: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll remember the pieces long after you’re done.
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Ninth Letter is part literary journal, part coffee-table book – the kind of coffee-table book you go back to again and again, admiring the gorgeous artwork and spectacularly designed pages each time with the same sense of awe, surprise, and delight. You’re proud to display it in your living room, you want to show it to everyone who visits. You find something new you’ve never seen before every time you look at it. It’s big, heavy, substantial, hard to hold, and harder to put down.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 3
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Two of the most frequent complaints about the state of contemporary literature are the woeful lack of readers and the abysmal quality of writing available for the oh-so-few readers who are out there. Obviously, these two generalizations are just that, and literary magazines like New York Tyrant serve as a counterpoint to the creeping edge of Literary Apocalypse. This, the third issue, is now sold out. People are reading. And the quality and range of the writing is staggering.
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