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Katy Haas

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A new journal is born, one with an ancient name. How does it merge the split-ends of legacy and innovation? It embraces the age-old tradition of straightforward storytelling and updating it with a solid cast of fledgling writers.
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This Santa Clara Review opens with MC Hyland’s Palm Poetry Prize-winning poem, an apt entry into this issue with its measured cadence and stark pronouncements: “God is blond, and loves you, though not as you are now.”
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The advantage of a literary journal devoted entirely to one genre is the ability to explore and expand the possibilities of the form. River Teeth does just that. While most literary journals might publish two or even three nonfiction essays, River Teeth can include more than a dozen in each issue, a number that allows the reader to get a strong sense of just how many ways there are to approach the “truth.”
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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 - 2007

April 30, 2007
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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.
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Oyez- “from the Anglo-Norman word for hear ye, the imperative plural of oyer, meaning to hear. It was used as a call for silence and attention in court and at public gatherings.”
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It is a tremendous effort to develop quality work like Open Minds Quarterly does, while focusing on the consumers and survivors of mental health services.

Noon - 2007

April 30, 2007
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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.
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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.
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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.
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