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Katy Haas

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This issue of Off the Coast carries a cover theme of “Ice Fishing,” but I am under the firm belief that was somebody’s joke to play on an outdoorsman like myself. Luckily, I really enjoy poetry, and this issue contains 41 poetic offerings for readers to peruse. None of them deal with the directive of “Ice Fishing,” but for a bad pun laced with reality, I will say that the issue felt to be casting about a bit.
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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.
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The large, red circle in the journal’s cover makes sense, because family and blood runs deep in this issue, in poems and short stories that talk about husbands and wives, sibling rivalry, or fathers and daughters.
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I cannot remember when I have ever made reading poetry in translation part of my reading habits, but after the experience of reading this issue of International Poetry Review, I am humbled and convinced that I have been missing out on unique and profound experiences with poems that are significant and at times transcendent.
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Hunger Mountain announces itself quietly. The cover looks like a mixture of a chess piece and a road map. Reading the issue’s first poem, Annie Lighthart’s “White Barn”, prepares me for pieces featuring a home on the range, or of lives lived under a guise of simple lives and simple times. There are no flashy mechanics to the journal itself—the art is in black and white, the poetry and fiction well-worded and sometimes blunt, and the creative nonfiction as well as the young adult offerings all carry voices frank and honest. Fiction editor Barry Wightman even states it in his foreword letter: “You may ask yourself, ‘what’s this all about?’ . . . Horses. Horses. Horses. Horses.” I was prepared for horses. But what I received was much more than that.
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The slim, 8x8 format of Green Blotter was what first attracted me to this publication. It is some kind of revival publication of the Green Blotter Literacy Society of Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania. I wish I knew more about its history, but despite nearly four pages of separate editorial commentary from two co-editors-in-chief, readers outside of the community will be equally at a loss. I consider myself a connoisseur of editorials (as one editor to another), but these four pages could have been better devoted to a combined effort of a page, personal thanks on a dedication page, and some more solid information for readers about what this is as a publication with some history. Given the fact that this takes up 10%+ of the writing space in the publication, it deserves comment.
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The Winter 2014 issue of Fiddlehead turns on moments of awareness of awareness, capturing the instants we catch ourselves catching ourselves, revelations of self to self, to the reader, and to other characters. It’s charming, this subtle focus moving from piece to piece, from poem to prose to poem to poem, and the sequence suggests this international journal from the University of New Brunswick is edited with precision.
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Unlike most literary journals, which separate their content into specific genres, the Denver Quarterly has a much simpler table of contents. The writing in this journal is lumped into two categories: “Work” and “Conversation.” The content of the “Work” section is creative work, e.g. prose and poetry, while the “Conversation” section consists of interviews, critical passages, and the like.

THEMA - Autumn 2008

January 16, 2009
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The editor of Thema announces themes a year or more in advance. So, when Virginia Howard chose “When Things Get Back to Normal” thinking of her house and her life in Louisiana in the post-Katrina years, she could not possibly have known how much many more of us would be longing for “normal” in Autumn 2008. “For us, things will never get back to normal. We are trying to forge new versions of normal,” she writes in her introductory notes.
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The cover of this issue is a delightful reproduction of a painting (oil on wood) by Jayne Holsinger whose closely examined human subjects share the vivid spirit and astute observation of much of the writing in this issue of The Saint Ann’s Review. Holsinger’s paintings are so finely etched and so sharply defined, it’s hard to believe they are created in oils. The work of 13 poets, 10 fiction writers, two essayists, an “e-interview,” several reviews, and strong artwork by three other artists match Holsinger’s gift for original and memorable image making.
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