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  • Issue Number Volume 6 Issue 1
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
I’m sure, as writers, we sometimes feel compelled to write a letter to someone—as a way to organize our thoughts and say it “just right”—rather than try to explain what we are feeling or thinking out loud. This issue of Poemeleon is titled “The Epistolary Issue.” Each of the writers in this issue uses this form of poetry in different ways, some even explain it with a short intro.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 3
  • Published Date October 2012
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
After seeing the cover of Pithead Chapel—a colorful collection of birds amongst flowers and plants—I expected something a little different. I’m not sure what, but I somehow expected stories of nature, or stories that were calm, and safe. But what I got was a different kind of surprise.
This magazine is one that features women writers all over the age of 60. The editors write, “Too often older women’s artistic work is ignored or disregarded, and only those few who are already established receive the attention they deserve. Yet many women are at the height of their creative abilities in their later decades and have a great deal to contribute.” This magazine’s mission is endearing, especially to me as my grandmother didn’t even start writing until she was in her ‘60s. It’s nice to see a magazine that showcases this type of work.
  • Issue Number Volume 199 Number 2
  • Published Date November 2011
  • Publication Cycle Monthly
One is prone to read Poetry expecting not only to find good poems, but also that something will be said about poetry. In this issue, the about reverberates most abundantly in Michael Robbins’s insightful review on three volumes, Clavics by Geoffrey Hills, Moving Day by Ish Klein, and Come and See by Fanny Howe. As Robbins suggests, poetry can be one thing—or that thing’s very contradiction: “where Flarf’s virtue is in its failure to hang together, Klein’s poems exude counterintuitive coherence.” This broad definition seems useful in dealing with a collection of poetry so diverse as in this issue of the journal.
  • Issue Number Number 76
  • Published Date November 2007
The Painted Bride Quarterly, published four times a year online and annually in print, has a long and proud history of giving voice to new and established talent. For over thirty years, PBQ has consistently sought and published writers whose very individual work seems to rush us to the edge of the known world, and then signal us to risk the leap; yet, as innovative and personal as these works are, they seem to belong, too, to the communities and cultures that gave rise to them. Perhaps more remarkable is that although PBQ is sponsored by great institutions and organizations (Drexel University is home), the magazine has retained its authenticity.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer/Autumn 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
What I like most about the Poetry is Dead Magazine Society is how serious they take their role as the poetry imp. You can almost hear the stifled giggles breaking as you begin to catch the joke. “Poets tend to take the art form a touch too seriously,” writes Editor-In-Chief Daniel Zomparelli. “Try it next time you are around a poet… Just say something like, ‘the only true form of poetry is lyrical’ or ‘conceptual poetry is here to kill off the fossil we call lyrical poetry’ or ‘if it’s a project than it is not poetry’ and watch their faces turn red.” Art Director Easton West writes in his letter, quoted here in its entirety: “I gota actually wrtie some shit [sic].”
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2003
If minimalism had a role model in format, it would be Pawhatan Review, which only adds to the surprise and delight readers will discover in the depth and complexity of content. The magnet for me in this saddle-stitched format was the centerpiece: a b/w photograph by Mark Artkinson entitled “Vermont girls, summer at the beach,” which perfectly and preciously captures two distinct inner workings of young feminine psyche.
  • Issue Number Issue 6
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle online
For an online publication, Penduline offers a massive amount to read in flash fiction, sudden fiction, prose poetry, and short fiction. This issue, themed "WTF?," contains strange, but entertaining stories, no doubt aimed to make you say, “WTF?”
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Here, complete, is Mathias Svalina’s “Poetry Prompt: Reformation” from this thoroughly intriguing second issue of Phantom Drift:
  • Issue Number Volume 54
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Polaris has always been about undergraduate writing, specifically the undergraduate writing of students at Ohio Northern University. The issue I reviewed, however, offered a slight twist on the focus. Editors Brian Hohmeier and Andrew Merecicky explained that “for the first time in the over fifty years of our history as a magazine, the staff and editors were pleased and excited to open up submissions to the global undergraduate writing community.”
  • Issue Number Number 70
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Poetry East is a compendium of 100 short poems evenly divided into four sections?Morning, Midday, Evening, Night. While readers will be treated to a few poems from household names, what is far more significant is the natural flow from one piece to the next regardless of who authored them. I have never heard literary magazines, or poetry collections for that matter, referred to as "page turners," but there is a kind of lightness in these poems that leads to precisely this end. Take for example Andrea Potos's poem "Abundance to Share with the Birds," which evokes the image of hair strands removed from a brush taken up by the wind to be collected by birds for a nest.
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle annual
The pleasure starts as soon as you pick up this magazine. Striking black-and-white linoleum block prints by Melissa West on front and back covers are worth lingering over before you even get inside. Their design and typography call so little attention to themselves that you may not even stop to think about how beautiful type can be when it’s handled well. Instead, you sit back and let yourself be drawn effortlessly into some wonderful writing.
Parnassus is a brick. At 500+ pages, it holds forth as a mammoth among literary journals (Fulcrum and Vlak being two others having recently published issues that come immediately to mind). The other night at Glen Park Station after a poetry reading, a friend, who himself happens to edit a literary annual, remarked that he finds such a size far too unwieldy and awkward to get around in as a reader. Yet nonetheless, there’s a rather charming and fascinating draw towards large volumes. They possess a seductive quality that’s difficult to resist as they always bring on the feeling that the next round of reading is going to yield another surprise. In this regard, the new issue of Parnassus does not disappoint.
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  • Issue Number Volume 87 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The cover of this issue of Prairie Schooner greets the reader with an impressionist autumn scene painted by Faridun Zoda. The inviting image is appropriate; the editors have chosen work that compels the reader to take a step back and enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation.
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  • Issue Number Volume 39 Numbers 2 & 3
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Travis Holland’s “Planet of Fear” is one of a number of brilliant stories in this all-fiction issue of Ploughshares, edited by Peter Ho Davies. Holland writes beautifully. Three strands make a rich, bright braid: the narrator’s work with an exceptional youth in a boys’ correction facility, his frustration with his dementia-disabled father, and his love for his smart but innocent five-year-old daughter. Scenes slide seamlessly from one of these strands to another, the tension level rising slowly, steadily, as the client is bullied, the father drifts further and further from his original professorial authority, and the daughter grows into her own. Each episode is wonderfully drawn. Of a “nature walk” through an unfinished housing development with the daughter, Holland writes:
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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Plain, and rooted in the plains: that’s what remained with me after I finished reading Paddlefish, the annual literary journal from Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota. A photograph of a boundless golden field and blue skies spreads over the front and back covers; the book reviews visit the Nebraska landscape and snippets in South Dakotan history; the stories and poems touch on post-military and Native American life. Paddlefish is plain, too, in its subjects, sentiments, and language. The reader is often told exactly what the writer is thinking, a mode that may appeal to some but which, to others, may leave too little to the imagination.
The venerable grand-dame of literary journals has been through some major changes lately, with the recent sad passing of enthusiastic founder, George Plimpton. However, the quality of the journal has remained very high, as might be expected. This issue features interviews on the art of poetry with poet Paul Muldoon and Paris Review’s own Poetry Editor Richard Howard.
  • Published Date 2004
  • Publication Cycle Print Annual 2
A little thicker than Bridge’s double issue, PBQ is, for those of us not in the know (which includes me until recently), now entirely an online presence and then, once a year, published as a print anthology. I’ll fully admit to the prejudice: I love print journals, and am always somewhat nervous or anxious about online stuff.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2010
Prole is proudly launching its inaugural voyage, and what a voyage. The message on page two states that this is “a journal of accessible poetry and prose to challenge and engage.” This journal is nothing if not challenging and engaging. Prole’s fiction and prose uses only artful story-telling, skillful-weaving, compact wording; no literary tricks, twists, surprise endings or jolts to deliver one deep into their vast little worlds. There are short stories with suspense and horror, such as “Book Covers” by Rebecca Hotchen and “Flower as Big as the Sky” by Matt Dennison. There are minute character studies such as “Shoes” by Dave Barrett and Bruce J. Berger’s “He had to Go.” And completing this tasty assortment are the odd and sad like “Stone and Wind” by Carl T. Abt, “Scarred” by Kevin Brown, and Stephen Ross’s “Clocks without Hands.”
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
“Body, My House,” is the theme of new editor Maria Melendez’s first issue. “Human bodies, alive and in crisis, command the spotlight in the non-fiction books that have held my attention for the last 18 months,” she tells us in her “Welcome.” This is possibly, she reveals, the result of bodies in crisis in her own life, first her father’s triple bypass surgery, and later bouts of H1N1 from which she and family members suffered. There is certainly much writing about the experience of illness and disease in this issue, but there is also a good deal of work about food and eating; the body’s connection to the natural world; reproduction and aging; an essay about quitting smoking; and a poem about the art of maintaining a home as art (“this house is my poem!”).
  • Issue Number Volume 82 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In these painfully unsettled times, or perhaps I should say even more painfully unsettled than usual, I am grateful for the few things I can rely on. Out my west Bronx window, the sun still rises in the east, as far as I can tell. My boss will say “TGIF” with childish glee every Friday afternoon as if he had just invented the expression. The first sip of hot coffee in the morning will cheer me in a way that is unreasonably optimistic. And Prairie Schooner will satisfy and even comfort me with its steadfastness.
Prose Ax’s zine-like appearance (saddle-stitching, black-and-white photocopied art works on the cover and throughout the issue, untrimmed pages) and authors with attitude who write pieces with titles like “Brain Spiders” are going to appeal to a zine audience more than your typical academic audience. And this little collection of poetry and short prose pieces has edge in spades, although occasional clichés creep in to zap a piece’s potential.
This free, bi-monthly newsprint publication offers West Coast readers insights into the lives of poets and publishers, plus a handy calendar for poetry-related events up and down the West Coast. The front-page articles include a discussion of The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth by Jack Foley and an interview with Kazuko Shiraishi and her translators Samuel Grolmes and Yumiko Tsumara by Ikuko Tomita. Inside are more essays on Rexroth, a few poems, including one by Shiraishi, as well as reviews and news about various poetry figures, including a discussion of Louise Glück. The reason this newsprint publication is invaluable to me, besides the fact that it is wonderfully inexpensive, is that it contains a detailed lists of conferences, readings, festivals, classes and even public radio programs devoted to poetry, mostly focused on California, but including events from Seattle to Colorado. When planning trips, I always glance through their schedule to see if I can make any readings or festivals while I’m there. [Poetry Flash, 1450 Fourth Street, #4, Berkeley, CA 94710. E-mail: . Single issue: Free on newsstands; Mail subscriptions 12 issues/$30 (U.S.). www.poetryflash.org] – JHG
Poetry International is an annual journal out of San Diego that manages to present a collection of poetry, essays, art and reviews that feels thoroughly edited yet diverse and exuberant. The essays are original and lively, especially Jeredith Merrin's "And Damned If It's Not a Hart Crane-Azure Sky!--Some Notes on American Modernism and Influence," a discussion of how Modernist writers have influenced her writing, and Mark Weiss' essay, "The Worlds of Cuban Poetry." Mark Weiss is also the translator of the featured Cuban poems, including my favorites, "The Girl in the Forest" and "Mother Goose," two surreal but intimate takes on popular children's stories, by Eliseo Diego. A few lines from “Mother Goose”: “…Then / amid the golden flames / that cavernous mouth. / A hurricane whispers: / ‘Once upon a time…’ / And everything begins.”
  • Issue Number Number 8
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
After a seven-year break, The Prague Revue is back. The journal, which categorizes itself as “Bohemia’s Journal of International Literature,” is a compact little tome, just right for a bohemian life of travel. And if you’re about to set out on a trip, I certainly recommend you take this issue with you. No matter how long the lines at the airport, you’ll never be bored. Produced under the auspices of the Prague Cultural Foundation in the Czech Republic, the journal presents fiction, essays, poetry, drama, and reviews in English (some written in English, others translated from their original languages) from around the world. This issue features work, including a short play and photographs by writers from the US, China, the Czech Republic, Scotland, Belgium, Ireland, England, and Germany.
  • Issue Number Volume 193 Number 1
  • Published Date October 2008
  • Publication Cycle Monthly
Often one of the best things about Poetry is the prose, which is the case this month in which letters, essays, and reviews comprise nearly half the issue. Prose contributions include an excerpt from Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, an essay on reviewing Hart Crane by William Logan, and reviews of new books by Jason Guriel. Logan’s essay is a thoughtful, if mildly self-serving, “response” to critics of a controversial review he wrote for the New York Times last year.
  • Issue Number Issue 25
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Per Contra's fall issue offers a varied sampling of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
In an introduction to this issue’s featured artist—Caleb Cole—Joshi Radin discusses how Cole takes old group photographs and whites out all people but one. “We focus on this individual,” writes Radin, “plucked from the crowd. Confined by the white space where companions once crowded, she is alone even in the company of others.” Take, for example, “There Yet,” in which you can see a young girl’s blank expression, barely visible. It may have been lost in the photo originally, blocked out by the other children. Each of the photographs emits loneliness, solitude. “As a group,” Radin says, “They are all alone together.” The pieces of writing contained in this issue speak that same message to me.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The subtitle of Palooka seems to indicate that editors Nicholas Maistros and Jonathan Starke have something of an outsider’s mindset. This “journal of underdog excellence” contains work that, according to Maistros, responds to the “storms” we experience in “different yet collectively elemental ways.” From the journal’s colorful and playfully disturbing cover art to its entertaining contributors’ notes, Palooka turns the difficult trick of making itself accessible to a wide range of audiences without talking down to them.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
A Public Space, destined to become a “big” journal from the outset, now adds the term “importance” to its resume. Though APS fiction shows surface divergences – teenage assassins (Nam Le), cult followers (David Mitchell), imprisoned women (Malie Chapman) – the aesthetic remains consistent. The essays, by contrast, point to the coutercultural bankruptcy of the present, and environmental destabilization of the future.
  • Issue Number Issue 49
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This journal is a joy, and my only critique is that it’s not pages and pages longer! I found Ted Kooser's "A Farmhouse in Winter" instantly. This edition opened to this poem, as though I were assigned to encounter a chilly personality, first. As one who worships summer heat, I forgot that when I read, “It's taken weeks but at last the cold / that poured down out of Alberta / has found its way into the old rock cellar / and up the steps to the kitchen door.” This spirit drifts into homely, hidden spaces, and somehow is expected. All is well. Are those "shelves of canned tomatoes" and "dusty rags of cobweb" prepared to move aside for this icy, temporary guest Kooser's touch is simple, not simplistic. How I cherish the sweet power of image at the end!
  • Issue Number Number 5
  • Published Date 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If the unsettling cover art is meant to hint at the contents of this thick annual print issue of PANK, I'm at a loss as to the meaning of the hint, even after reading through to the very end. I'm not sure if that says more about the nature of the artwork, or the disparity of the work within. The pages hold prose poetry, visual poetry, and flash fiction, as well as more traditional poetry forms and longer short stories, and virtually everything in between. In the truly liberating fashion of contemporary experimental literature, PANK does not require its writers to classify their work, or if it does, it chooses not to disclose those labels within its table of contents. This can be refreshing, or occasionally annoying.
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  • Issue Number Issue 34
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of Passages North transports readers in all directions to many destinations where memory is immediate and present and history is imminent and alive. The opening pages are home to the winners and honorably mentioned of the 2012 Fiction Prizes. The winning stories convey readers down corridors of metaphor and into realms of secrecy. Traci Brimhall’s story, “After the Flood the Captain of the Hamadryas Discovers a Madonna,” the winning entry of the short-short fiction category, is a poetic work of prose that clarifies with its ambiguity and wonderment. The opening paragraph immediately draws us in:
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Ping•Pong is the journal of the Henry Miller Library. Their mission statement maintains that they publish a journal because continuing the literary and artistic legacy of Henry Miller does not mean just publishing Miller, but also others, and that “Given our interest in these peculiar and often-overlooked centers and margins, not everything published in Ping•Pong will be pretty.”
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Each piece in this second foray of Paul Revere’s Horse seems to encompass both denial and truth. Inasmuch as this not a remarkable combination, in the deft hands of these writers, denial, and the sometimes painful desire to find the truth, take on whole different meanings, each perfectly tailored to fit the writer’s needs.
  • Issue Number Volume 86 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Although not the leading story in the Summer 2012 issue of Prairie Schooner, Justin Taylor’s “Flings,” is the one that seems the most summery, as it takes place in that in-between time of adjusting to life after graduation, soon after a group of friends leave a “semi-elite liberal arts college” in Ohio. The story follows each of the friends individually, as they make their ways to Portland, Oregon, bumbling through the friendships crossed with the romantic entanglements that define post-collegiate life. Many of the characters are vaguely artsy, with Andy working on an epic novel, and two of the female characters having internships in an experimental film festival, before “rapidly learning the extent to which they had overestimated their interest in experimental film.” Taylor’s writing excellently explores the confusion of this period of life, when one is trying to define one’s self in the world, as well as the narcissism that can come with a headlong pursuit of the arts. He understands the messy, crisscrossed relationships of a tight-knit group of friends right out of college. His writing is tinged with a sense of humor about the overly sincere and serious.
  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Never has PMS been so delightful! PMS PoemMemoirStory is a journal of women’s writing, full of energy, life, color, politics, love, and verve. Issue number nine combines 40 pages of poetry, 47 pages of memoir, and 41 pages of fiction—all well-crafted and all high-quality.
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This lit mag is generally considered to be one of the better on the web at the present time. They state rather proudly that they have received a special mention in the 2007 Pushcart Prize anthology, along with two Best of Web anthology awards, and a top ten Million Writers Award – pretty good stuff. In reading their latest collection of fiction and poetry, it is easy to see why.
  • Subtitle Make Believe
  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The opening invitational forum of PEN America was given to writers as choice on "Make Believe." The first option: “Imagine a book you wish you had written, either by yourself or by someone else, living or dead, real or imaginary.” I loved Cynthia Ozick’s playful answer:
  • Issue Number Volume 40 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
A generous and attractive volume, this 40th anniversary issue of Puerto del Sol contains a 60-page excerpt "El Malpais (The Badlands)," from In the Shadows of the Sun by Alexander Parsons, a compelling novel set in the New Mexico countryside of the mid-1940's when ranchers were allowed to return to confiscated—and possibly contaminated—land: "It was hard to believe how quickly it had been ruined: they had made it to last, painstakingly fitting each stone so that the cement mortar was superfluous to the binding force of gravity. But the impact from the atomic detonation, two miles east, had undone this." 
  • Issue Number Volume 79 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2005
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
One of the standards, Prairie Schooner has published worthy prose and poetry for seventy-seven years, and this issue's four stories, five reviews, and work by thirty-eight poets may be so described. The highlight for me is Ron Hansen's "Wilde in Omaha," in which the narrator, a local reporter, spends a few hours in Wilde's witty, but taxing, company and experiences the truth (at least, for his lectures) of the Punch pronouncement: "The poet is Wilde. But his poetry's tame." There are poems and stories here of which Wilde would approve; not half bad—Rita Mae Reese's "My Summer in Vulcan," on catching the eye of an older sister's boyfriend; Lon Otto's "What Is Son?" – the question to ask if learning to dance on a rooftop in Havana; and a story of bitter betrayal, "Wooden Fish" by Matt Freidson.
  • Subtitle Poetry in Review
  • Issue Number Volume 28
  • Published Date 2005
If you haven't used all your vacation time yet this year, you might want to consider taking a few days off just to read this issue of Parnassus—it's that good. Don't plan to travel with it, at 470 pages it's nearly too big to fit in a carry-on bag. But, if care about intelligent writing and about poetry, however you do it, make room in your life for this issue.
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue delivers a lot of interest in relatively few pages by coming at writers from more than one angle. This is particularly effective in the treatment of Carolyn Elkins, a fine poet now living in North Carolina but with roots in the Mississippi Delta, where Poetry South is based. We’re given a generous serving of Elkins’s poetry, seven poems, as well as an interview with her by the magazine’s editor, John Zheng. As a bonus, Zheng discusses three additional poems with the author in some detail and prints the texts in full. Here, all in one place, is an introduction to a poet whose skill and imagination run deep.
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  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Possibly every reviewer has made a reference to the Pleiades constellation when reviewing Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing (& Reviews). The connections are hard to miss. Just as the constellation has many stars, some of which shine brighter than others, the journal is a collection of many polished works that resonate even if one has to examine them closely, as if with a telescope. The stars are also known as the Seven Sisters, and here the connection ends, at least for the Winter 2013 issue in which none of the pieces seem to be siblings but perhaps distant cousins of one another, at times a few steps removed.
Although it's not meant to be a special theme edition, it almost reads like one: "the men's fiction issue"—approximately 75 percent of the magazine consists of short stories by male authors. These are conventional, but highly satisfying pieces for the most part, the sort of well plotted tales that take one, ever so briefly and deeply, inside another's life. While these stories are quite different from each other in tone, in style and in the subject matter they treat, they have in common their uncommon psychological insight. Each one of these stories is narrated with close and astute attention to what moves and motivates people. 
  • Issue Number Volume 100 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2005
"This is what we seek: Clarity, fluidity, unselfconsciousness, poems that guide us without fanfare into what is genuinely human—an insight, experience, or mood which, though we'd not perceived it before, we recognize it instantly." Some of the more accomplished poets whose work satisfies the editor's vision include Linda Pastan, Diane Lockwood, Jim Daniels, and Jane Shore. Shore introduces seven poems by Nadell Fishman that "recast the roles of mother, wife, and daughter, retelling her personal story through fairy tales and popular culture…"
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  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The magazine Parcel is a city of mirages, each component story its own minaret and long stretch of shadow. One such structure is Rebecca Emanuelsen’s short exercise “Transmissions.” I found it especially evocative of the power of allegory. The characters channel various spirits from different continents and eras. We have the brooding Bronte men and the sequestered Burnett children, the precocious du Maurier innocents and the brittle old women who will always transcend time with the ultimate lubricant of such travel—old money. I felt that Emanuelsen teased this reader too much with allusion, where the word “quite” infected the page and the aforementioned characters did seem borrowed from other casts, but she wrote a story I couldn’t put down. The premise is that of a bookseller who becomes entrapped in a strange thread. (Yes, it leads her to an unexpected peace, but you won’t guess where). Her opening is perfect: “Olette wakes one morning to find a string running taut from her left ear canal out through the crack beneath her bedroom door. She sits up and touches the place where the thread connects to her head, perplexed by its presence.”
  • Issue Number Volume 39 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
When I received phoebe, I was struck by the name. Phoebe was one of the Titan gods and for some time was in control of the Delphic Oracle. She’s been called Goddess of Wise Counsel, Thoughtful Replies, and Snappy Answers. What a great name for a journal! I though with glee. I began reading with an earnest hopefulness that phoebe would turn out to be wise, intelligent, and quirky. Was she ever!
An all-poetry issue. No short fiction, excerpts, or memoirs to help shake off the feeling of confusion or understanding that follows a two-page long poem. That is why this magazine should be taken in doses, not inhaled nonstop from beginning to end. The formats are adventurous, and the language is crisp and new. The topics range from playful to thought provoking, yet it all seems to melt together perfectly.
  • Issue Number Issue 39
  • Published Date 2007
A sparkling array of African American writers is featured in this issue of Pembroke Magazine. The editors chose to feature the Caroline African American Writers Collective (CAAWC), plus more African American prose and poetry.
  • Issue Number Volume 81 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of Prairie Schooner contains poetry, short stories, reviews, and great cover art by Chris Ware which made me want to read his graphic novels.
  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Phoebe is a thin volume, weighing in at 110 pages, but it more than compensates with a huge variety of genre, style, and subject matter. Charles Bernstein’s poem, “The 100 Most Frequent Words in My Way: Speeches and Poems,” is fairly self-explanatory: simply a column of the most frequently used words in alphabetical order. Many of the words chain together and webs of meaning form and expand so that upon reaching the end, one has a distilled sense of Bernstein’s book. Also included is work by Joe Hall, Miriam Stewart, Brandon Lewis, and more.
  • Issue Number Volume 53 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of Portland Review showcases “innovative fiction,” beginning with two pieces selected from the FC2 Writer’s Edge workshop for experimental writing that was held at Portland State University last year. There are hazards to publishing work selected from a pool as small as a workshop, which is not to say that these two stories aren’t interesting, but rather that other work that appears in the journal is better. Martha Clarkson’s “Water Filter,” for example, tells the story of a family that acquires gills (through surgery) and moves into the pool for a few months to get away from Dad.
  • Issue Number Volume 10 Issue 1
  • Published Date 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Porcupine literary magazine is concerned with both the visual as well as the literary arts. Each issue contains poetry, fiction, and essays, as well as portfolios of artists and a full-color section dedicated to visual media. In this issue, Janet Yoder describes the basketry of Vi Hilbert, an Upper Skagit elder, who has been weaving her entire life, binding her community and her past as tightly as her cedar root baskets. We are given photos of two of her baskets and left wanting to see more of this amazing woman’s art.
Want to get a taste of modern and contemporary Japanese poetry but don’t speak Japanese? Then Poetry Kanto will give you a draught. It includes English translations of Japanese poems by members of the Kanto Poetry Center at Kanto Gakuin University in Yokohama. They have prefaced the works with helpful introductions to the poets’ lives and works. Many of the poems collected here have appeared previously on web sites or in books, and a number of these poems are slated to appear in Japanese Women Poets: An Anthology (M.E. Sharpe, 2007). I have the impression that many of the Japanese poems lost vitality in the translation, and this is the likely nature of translation because, of course, many aspects of poems (sounds, wordplay) cannot be rendered well in another language. What remains then are the images, and if the reader is not stirred by the images, the poem falls flat. Of the translated poems, “Eating the Wind” seemed to be the most successful, partly because the Indonesian terms are included so the sounds are not lost, and because of the difference in meaning of the title phrase in Indonesian and Japanese, as explained by the persona.
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
With this issue, the journal moves from its home at the Attic Writers Workshop in Portland, Oregon to the Written Arts Program at Everett Community College on the Puget Sound. Editor Kevin Craft says the journal will remain true to its “capacity to be of one place and reflective of many,” and he describes the journal’s editorial approach:
  • Issue Number Volume 105 Numbers 1/2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue’s cover is a riveting photo of Japanese-Americans at a Los Angeles rail station on their way (forcibly) to internment camps in 1942. In fact, the photo is so beautifully composed and so striking, it’s hard to open the cover and leave it behind. But, it would be a shame not to, the issue’s simply terrific. “Poetry…survives war’s upheavals and seeks to leave an enduring record…rebuilding has always been part of poetry’s promises,” assert Poet Lore’s editors. Much of the work here certainly deserves to endure.
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
This is the “short story” issue, fifteen short works (2-4 pages) many of which read more like memoirs or personal essays than fiction, and they may be (genres are not identified). They are direct in their intention to be “reflections of Jewish thought.” Half have titles that announce their Jewish-ness in one way or another (“Post-Abrahamic,” “Tekiah Gedola: The Strongest Call,” “Mamala,” “Zaydie the Courageous,” “A True Hillel and Shamai Story,” “Yom Kippur,” “Israel Journey, ’94 Heart”), and all have overtly Jewish themes of one type or another: one’s relationship to Israel; the portrait of a grandparent as an example of Jewish life as it used to be; differences in Jewish practice or belief between parents and children; the experience of Holocaust Survivors; memories of synagogue services; relationships with Christian neighbors; coping with aging parents; the changing nature of Jewish families.
  • Issue Number Number 4
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The cover art for this issue—“The Little Prince” by Andrew Robertson—speaks greatly to the aura of the writing held within. The Little Prince stands on his asteroid, back turned to us, with just his rose. The fiction, poetry, and nonfiction held within the magazine emit these same senses of loneliness and solitude, though in a way that is both beautiful and poetic.
  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Editors Nicholas Maistros and Jonathan Starke introduce their new journal: “we’re determined to find those writers and artists who are flying under the radar producing great works that are going unnoticed by other journals.” The journal’s title comes from the world of prize fighting; its tagline is “a journal of underdog excellence.”
  • Issue Number Volume 192 Number 4
  • Published Date July/August 2008
  • Publication Cycle Monthly
It’s always intimidating to review a journal of the stature, prominence, and historic importance of Poetry. Consider this issue’s Table of Contents, and you’ll see what I mean: a portfolio of poems by Jack Spicer (who, during his lifetime, never appeared in the journal) introduced by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian; poems by Kathryn Starbuck, Albert Goldbarth, Bob Hicok, Heather McHugh, Dean Young, D. Nurske, among other great and notable talents; a radio play in translation by the late and utterly remarkable Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, introduced by playwright Adam Seelig; and the “Comment” section, “Poets We’ve Known,” featuring nine near geniuses, including Fanny Howe and Eleanor Wilner. This issue, “Summer Break” (there is something of a break-from-the-standard-poetry-routine about this issue), also includes seven delightful poetry cartoons by Bruce McCall, and, finally, a series of Letters to the Editor that makes me very sorry, indeed, to have missed the Marilyn Chin translations of Ho Xuan Huong’s poetry that sparked such charged responses.
  • Issue Number Number 8
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I had high expectations for this special “all-black women’s issue” of PMS. Guest edited by renowned poet Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, this issue featured several mega-literary names like Lucille Clifton, Patricia Spears Jones, Nikki Giovanni, and Edwidge Danticat. As a white woman only vaguely immersed in black women’s writing, I was thrilled and eager to dive in, more than anxious to finally become edified in this wonderful and “sassy” universe.
  • Issue Number Volume 83 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Guest Editor Grace Bauer was given the reins of this issue of Prairie Schooner. Influenced by the number of recent baby boomer milestones, including news reports about their first retirements and the golden anniversary of Barbie, Bauer decided to dedicate the volume to the generation. Not only have boomers produced a wide range of work, she notes, but they are, perhaps, the most-written-about generation of Americans. The choice is an apt one; baby boomers witnessed vast societal change. They are capable of writing about the times of both typewriters and computers. They bridge the gap between 45s and the ubiquitous iPod.
  • Subtitle Poetry in Review
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Always as a big as a doorstop, and often heart-stopping-ly good, Parnassus is a monumental-sized read. This year, I find especially worthwhile an essay with photos, “Seven Rhymes,” by Peter McCary; a grouping of essays and poems all dealing with music (work by Daniel Albright, John Foy, Dian Blakely, and Mathew Gurrewitsch); a memoir by Joy Ladin (who has published work previously in Parnassus as Jay Ladin; the transition from one to the other is the subject of her essay); an essay on Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay by Devin Johnston; and a translation of the poem “Dunia” from the original Spanish by its author Otto-Raul González.
  • Issue Number Volume 107 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Poet Lore was established in 1889 as a brilliant exploration of literature. It expanded through inspired conversation and has grown over a century into a repertoire of well-known and new authors, each issue a beautiful collection of work that deserves the reputation. The spring/summer issue is no exception.
This issue of the venerable Ploughshares was guest-edited by Campbell McGrath, a poet famous for his exuberant descriptions of all things American, from pop culture to politics. You’re not in for a lot of surprises here as almost all the writers included in this issue are well-known quantities (Denise Duhamel, Stuart Dybek, Michael Collier, Rick Moody, Bob Hicok, Tony Hoagland, the ubiquitous Virgil Suárez…the table of contents reads like a directory of Poets and Writers magazine), but the quality is impeccable, and reading this cover to cover was enjoyable. And McGrath definitely makes an effort to include poets from a range of movements, from elliptical to expansive and everything in between. I particularly liked the tongue-in-cheek humor of Beth Ann Fennelly’s “I Need to Be More French. Or Japanese.” Other standouts include Cynthia Weiner’s ambiguously chipper story “Boyfriends,” the poem “Going Bananas” by Rita Maria Martinez and the poem “In the B Movie of Our Lives” by Dionisio D. Martínez. - JHG
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
When I can, I like to single out one or two stories in a journal for particular praise, but all four fiction entries in this issue of Phoebe merit attention. “Forgery,” by Steve Yates, is a tale of corporate revenge set in the offices of a company that sells pornographic toys, yet it manages to be sweetly romantic. “Harvest,” by Danielle Evans, sets a group of women of color, Ivy League college girls all, against a friend who is able to sell her eggs to infertile couples for loads of cash simply because she’s white. William Jablonsky’s “In Dreams” features a fireman who is able to perform amazing acts of courage because he has seen his own death in his dreams and “knows” he won’t die as long as he doesn’t drive his truck through a certain fateful intersection, while “The Good Life,” by Jonathan Lyons, centers on a character who is so blitzed out on drink and drugs that he and his buddies can’t quite manage to care when they kill four strangers in a tragic highway accident.
  • Issue Number Number 24
  • Published Date 2012
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The blurbs on the back and in the ads in the middle of this issue of Post Road say things like “I often give away literary journals to my students . . . but I can’t give away Post Road—all I can do is show my copies to my students and then protectively snatch them back!” And “I trumpet Post Road not out of kindness but out of the purely selfish pleasure I take in a frisky, alert, independent magazine whose words and images spring off the page and sometimes turn a somersault or two before they stick their landings in my brain . . .” The former, by Aimee Bender, and the latter, by Walter Kirn, add up to something sounding too good to be true. However, let me reassure you: even a skim through this issue confirms their joie de la lecture.
  • Image Image
  • Issue Number Number 45
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If you want a devastating collection of modern literature, reach for Pembroke Magazine. The journal was launched from North Carolina in the late 1960s and has matured to a strong print presence among the small presses. From the variety of vantage points and voices, you might not even realize that it showcases the best of compilation out of the Edenic East Coast—one hundred miles from Charlotte, one hundred miles from the sea. But it manages to capture this in time and place with a rich lyricism and insightful prose.
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Having never visited the Henry Miller Library, I had no idea what to expect from Ping Pong, the Library’s annual art and literary journal. When it arrived, I was impressed with the exceptional production quality: thick and glossy paper, beautiful print, vivid and colorful art pieces and, yes, the work inside the journal was striking, too.
  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2005
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“Nothing original can ever be said about a trip to Paris; in some ways, that is its saving grace.” Kate Peterson may be right, in her installment-style story “Eighteen Conjugations of Cambridge,” which delights and ultimately stirs the dirty waters of nostalgia to a point that parallels “The lights in paintings […] afterglows: just-extinguished candles, early morning streetlamps, or dying stars.”
  • Issue Number Issue 4
  • Published Date Spring 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Point is a sophisticated 187-paged Chicago-based literary magazine about contemporary life and culture. The Spring issue's most frequent theme is sports entertainment and rationale, although its five sections, "Letters from the Editors," "Essays," "Art," "Symposium," and "Reviews" include other topics. It's good that it is a biannual, as its many articles require, more often than not, erudite engagement, and certainly more than one sitting.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
It is truly shocking to know that Prime Mincer is a young magazine still in its first year of publication. This edition is packed with insightful, daring, and creative work that will appeal to a diverse readership. So many poems, stories, and nonfiction pieces stood out and demanded to be heard. This is certainly a magazine you will have to hold in your hands to enjoy the punch it delivers.
  • Issue Number Volume 85 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
We’ve all said or heard from time to time: “old friends are the best.” This adage is certainly true with the Fall 2011 issue of Prairie Schooner. I’ve known this magazine for a long time—it has been published for longer than most of us reading it have been alive—and the current issue is just as lively and alive as the issues from the 1970s when I first subscribed in graduate school. Its generous collection of poems and prose is at once rich, exciting, challenging, and refreshing as the ample section of reviews is enlightening.
  • Issue Number Number 198
  • Published Date Fall 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Paris Review is such a great magazine, edited with such discrimination that likes and dislikes inevitably come down to matters of personal taste. The pieces that I most enjoyed in this issue were two essays—Lydia Davis's "Some Notes on Translation and on Madame Bovary," and Geoff Dyer's "Into the Zone"—and a poem by Sharon Olds, "The Haircut."
  • Issue Number Volume 6
  • Published Date Spring 2004
It’s easier, of course, to define the physical boundaries of an enormous space like the Great Plains than to come to an understanding of its essence, the unwalkable borderland where place meets person, where the geography of a region becomes home to a human heart.
With a few small exceptions, PEN America, the annual journal published by PEN American Center, is peopled with the work of world-famous or much-published writers, both contemporary and posthumous. Here you’ll find such familiar names as Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee, Susan Sontag, Wallace Stevens, Rick Moody, and Rainer Maria Rilke.
  • Issue Number Volume 27 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Whoever made the sign adorning the building in Greg Otto’s pastel cover, which reads “The New United Church of Love and Deliverance Miracle Center” must have the same aesthetics as Passages North—there’s space available, why not use it? This massive 250-page paperback is filled with 100 pages of fiction, 30 pages of nonfiction, and 100 pages of poetry. I was a bit put off at first by the number of non-adult narrators in the fiction (half of the stories are told by children or teenagers), but each stands on its own.
  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2011/2012
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Ploughshares is one of the most prominent literary journals on the market because of its long tradition of quality and ability to publish and discover leading writers. The journal is also notable for its practice of working with guest editors for each issue. Alice Hoffman, the editor, has taken the reins of this issue and presents work unified by a simple but powerful theme: the glorification of the storyteller present inside each of us.
The winter issue of Prairie Schooner contains poetry, stories, and reviews, sprinkled with the names of literary stars like R.T. Smith and Alice Ostriker and some new voices as well. Particularly charming were Alice Friman’s imaginings on the biblical character Ruth in “Remembering in Lilac and Heart-Shaped Leaves,” and Annette Sanford’s story, “Spring ’41,” about a young girl whose beloved aunt comes to live with her in a conservative town – bringing an illegitimate baby with her. I also liked Steve Langan’s poem, “Apricots,” a sensual homage to William Carlos Williams’ “This is Just to Say.” Here are a few lines from Langan’s poem:
Perhaps I’m just slow, but apparently Missouri, a state I know nearly nothing about, is where good writing, if not comes from, then at least is published. We all know the Missouri Review is the [insert whatever glowing adjective you’d like here] literary magazine in the world, but Pleiades, published in Warrensburg, Missouri, is a close close second.
In writing this review, I struggled to find a thread that sews all of the pieces together, but then I realized that perhaps it doesn't need that. The pieces in this issue stand apart for themselves, in the excellent narration, the witty lines, and the way they portray life's uncertainties. Anthony Moore's "Speak Memory" was easily my favorite; the narration in it had me chuckling to myself. The narrator is in the process of writing as the story develops, commenting on the writing and metaphors he is using—sometimes pointing out the flaws in them and trading them out for new ones. The story itself brings up questions of memory as the couple's baby has nightmares. Their doctor says that the baby doesn't have any memory beyond eating, sleeping, and pooping once it falls asleep. Yet, she still wakes up every night screaming and crying. Paul, the father, takes steps to insure that he won't forget anything.
What most distinguishes Poetry International from among other similarly sized (600 page) brick, behemoth literary annuals is the emphasis placed upon poetry alone. Unlike many others, there’s no fiction here, no interviews, and barely any critical commentary or other prose. This uniqueness is undeniably detrimental. There aren’t even any contributor bios! But there is good poetry, even if little of it manages to be surprising or challenging.
  • Issue Number Volume 33
  • Published Date Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Even the cover of Permafrost looks cold. And this issue of the “farthest north literary journal in the world” is solid as a hulking glacier. It’s rare that I come across a journal where I am almost equally enamored of both its poetry and its fiction. But I could not stop turning the pages of this issue.
  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date 2009
  • Publication Cycle Annual
In more than a decade of writing reviews, I don’t think I have ever said this before – read this journal for the editorial remarks. I’m serious. Here’s editor Sean Bernard in an interview with poet Neil Aitken, winner of the 2008 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry: “How does being Canadian (ed. Note: Neil is Canadian) give you a poetic advantage compared to being a wine swilling urban American?” Oh, did I mention that his interview with Aitken is one of the best magazine interviews I’ve read in a long time, maybe ever? Here are the editor’s comments preceding an excerpt from a novel-in-progress: “This is an episode from a novel-in-progress and it is fairly self-contained: Prism readers will be reassured to learn that the boy survives.” Here is the editor responding to Aitken after a particularly fascinating and unusual answer to one of his questions: “I don’t believe that for a minute.” Here is the editor from the notes that precede the “Canon Interview,” an imaginary conversation with a dead author (Jane Austen this issue): “On a recent full moon night, we were driving our editorial van through the Inland Empire.” Our editorial van!
  • Issue Number Numbers 64 & 65
  • Published Date Spring 2009
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This double issue of the journal begins with an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, titled simply “The Poet,” the magazine’s “Past Masters” feature. And Emerson begins with a definition of those who are “esteemed umpires of taste”: “often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever is elegant; but if you inquire whether or not they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual.” First, I am struck by the lovely internal rhymes (acquired, admired, inquire). Then I am simply worried that reviewers are self-proclaimed “umpires of taste.” Finally, I am convinced that the “beautiful souls” are the poets who have contributed to Poetry East where, for the most part, the poems are “personal,” heartfelt, earnest, sincere, and, for lack of a better term, accessible (as in approachable, read with apparent ease).
I have been reading this issue of Plume now for a couple of weeks, each time going in to reread the poetry, catch parts of it I might have missed. Each piece has its own unique pull, making this issue of Plume one for everyone. But as a monthly magazine, a new one will be our shortly, so make sure to read this one soon.
  • Issue Number Issue 17
  • Published Date Spring 2012
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
After falling behind for a small amount of time, The Puritan is now back up and running, this time with a new reading format. Available to read online or as a PDF, this issue offers a number of poems, fiction pieces, and interviews. The magazine features writing that “may push toward the symbolic frontier, challenging limitations and forging into previously unexplored aesthetic territory. But it may also revisit and revitalize traditional forms.”
  • Subtitle A Journal of Arts & Humanities
  • Issue Number Issue 38
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2004-05
In this issue, Clarissa T. Sligh writes movingly of the unspeakable: how her mother’s twelve-year-old brother was killed by racists, his body dumped on the ground in front of the house. “Her parents were still in the fields. Not able to accept that her brother was dead, she cradled his lifeless body in her lap and rocked him back and forth.” Sligh’s grandparents, needing to work in the fields but desperately afraid for their other sons, resorted to hanging them high in the trees in burlap sacks so they couldn’t wander away from the farm. Carla Panciera’s gently incisive “Darcy Didn’t Want to Be Home” tells the story of a wandering cow, a sentient being wanting more than her allotted life, from the perspective of a daughter caught between her father’s view of the animal as a product, and her own, more intuitive understanding of the world’s ways. Potomac Review, though not a religious publication, generously makes room for several offerings touching on the life of the spirit, such as Viva Hammer’s essay “Our Yarmulka” which quietly demonstrates how even a simple article of clothing, seen in the light of history, can become an article of faith, and the wearing of it, a way of keeping faith with those who are lost to time. If there is an overriding theme to the Potomac Review, it is the bonds of relationship—the sometimes excruciating sacrifices they ask of us, and the best of ourselves they give us in return. [Potomac Review, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville, MD 20850. E-mail: . Single issue $10. www.montgomerycollege.edu/potomacreview/] - Ann Stapleton
  • Issue Number Volume 185 Number 5
  • Published Date February 2005
A long-time reader of Poetry, I have a confession to make. I read Poetry for the reviews. It's not that I don't appreciate the poetry, of course—what, in this issue, Wislawa Szymborska describes, along with the work of Plato, as "litter scattered by the breeze from under statues / scraps from that great Silence up on high…"—but what inspires and angers and thrills me, above all, is what is found under the heading "comment."
  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Pleiades, with its cover depicting George Washington with his scalp on fire, contains a generous review section (nearly half the issue’s pages are devoted to reviews) and a few features, including multiple poems by Kevin Honold and Jap Hopler, with introductions by Cate Marvin and Louise Gluck, respectively. Kevin Honold had a long sectioned poem about the Iraq war, quite topical and all that, but my favorite of his was the brilliant “The Groves of Baal,” meant to echo the Biblical language of the book of Lamentations with an odd, colloquial voice chiming in the background:
  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The debut issue of A Public Space is probably one of the most highly anticipated magazines in recent history. Brigid Hughes, the former editor of the Paris Review, tops the masthead and the contributors include literary heavyweights like Rick Moody, Kelly Link, Charles D’Ambrosio, recent Pulitzer winner Marilynne Robinson, and John Haskell—not to mention a rare interview with Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author who enjoys a cult-like following. And A Public Space does not disappoint.
  • Issue Number Issue 40
  • Published Date 2012-2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
The Paterson Literary Review only arrives once a year, but leaves a lasting impression. This Passaic County Community College-based journal boasts 400 pages of poems, stories and essays and could easily keep you occupied during several intercontinental flights. In her editor’s note, Maria Mazziotti Gillan declares one of her primary motivations for selecting work from the 10,000 submissions the PLR receives each year: “I attempt to be inclusive of the work of writers from many races and ethnicities, choosing what I believe to be the best works.” She certainly achieved her goal; the journal balances the experimental and the traditional, the personal and the universal.
  • Issue Number Volume 105 Numbers 3/4
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The cover of Poet Lore is wondrous, a photograph of ice skaters posing for the camera on Mirror Lake in Yosemite in 1911. The Editor’s Page describes the photo as an appropriate introduction to the issue’s work with its—unanticipated—focus on winter as metaphor. The photo’s technical and artistic qualities are, to my mind, the finest metaphor for poetry, or, perhaps, an apt metaphor for fine poetry—making the real seem both more and less real than seemed possible, drawing what is far-off into close view and moving what is right in front of us into the background. The photo is clear in its misty-ness and misty in its clarity, like much of the poetry in this issue.
Parcel is a corporeal labor of love, a treasure for the reader who yearns for the simplicity of words on paper. This edition is dedicated to those "with a love of the elegant, tangible, hand-delivered book." When Heidi Raak, owner of The Raven Book Store, and Kate Lorenz, Kansas kindred spirit, became a team, they wondered: could they produce a gem of a journal, crafted to arrive at each reader's door, a ready-to-open-present?
  • Issue Number Volume 27 Issue 1
  • Published Date Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The Pinch offers a strong variety of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction with a few interviews thrown in the mix. Although poetry is a strength of The Pinch, the narratives shine the brightest in this excellent literary magazine. J. Malcolm Garcia led off the issue’s creative non-fiction with “Leave Taking,” a retelling of his experience of going to a brothel simply “for a beer.”
Parnassus is beautifully constructed. First, there’s the odd but intriguing painting on the cover, Gustave Moreau’s “Oedipus and the Sphinx,” which forms part of the subject matter for one of the poems found inside – “To Constantine Cavafy,” by Richard Howard. Turns out Cavafy wrote a poem about this painting without ever having seen it.
  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring 2003
At 56 total pages of creative work, PRISM sends a tremendous wallop of beautiful writing that, it’s made clear on both covers and often throughout, is (primarily) from Canada, although they do feature writers from the United States and declare themselves globally cosmopolitan. For those unfamiliar, there’s an organization called the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association that, through both a stamp on the back cover (“Genuine Canadian Magazine”) and an advertisement in the rear of the journal appearing just a step across the line between pride and swagger, establishes what could feel like a strange provincial sneer, if one were so inclined.
This journal, originating from Portland State University, includes poetry, fiction, photography and art from a variety of voices, not just those of the Northwest. Standout pieces for me included Dustin Nightingale’s poem, “Shoot Out the Lights,” and James McCachren’s story, “Driving,” which begins with the irresistible lines: “We had two reasons for going there: 1) because it was called “the supermarket of the stars,” and 2) because we had no chapstick. I saw we had no chapstick, though I think my wife may have hidden it.
“My name is Damien Echols, and I am a poet, author, and death row inmate who is currently awaiting exoneration through D.N.A. testing.” That’s how one handwritten cover letter addressed to Porcupine began, and when the editors read it, they knew that merely considering Echols’ poems for publication wouldn’t do him justice. Echols’ is a well-known reputed case of wrongful imprisonment (as one of the “West Memphis Three”) and his professed innocence has created a minor cause celebre among activists. But what’s really moving here is the personal account of the psychological horrors and spiritual growth experienced behind bars.
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