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Katy Haas

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This issue of The Kenyon Review sustains the journal’s well-deserved reputation as an elite, erudite vehicle for criticism, fiction, and poetry. It opens with a long essay by distinguished philosopher and essayist George Steiner. “Fragments (Somewhat Charred)” consists of philosophical observations on, or circling about, aphoristic phrases allegedly appearing on a charred scroll found in Herculaneum. Steiner deconstructs, linguistically and semantically, eight of these—phrases like “When lightning speaks it says darkness,” and “Evil is.” Of “When Arion sings why do I weep?” Steiner says “[it] encapsulates a perennial fascination by the powers and effects of music in Greek sensibility. An uneasy inquiry into the penetration of sung and instrumental music into the human psyche.” Later in the essay, he continues, “We know of no human community that lacks music. . . . Could a musical experience be the only human encounter with time made free of temporality as we know it in biological and psychological processes?” Such questions intrigue us; the effort to explore them deeply constitutes a rare offering.
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Susan McCarty’s short fiction “Another Zombie Story,” in this issue of Indiana Review provides a flash of imagination that affirms hope in the midst of disaster. In ten linked thematic sections that are at times funny or ominous (but always insightful and compelling), the narrative warbles on a mysterious landscape, plays upon a portfolio of expectations and emerges resilient as the main character discovers love (and garden vegetables) against a backdrop of loss and instability. It is tightly drawn, lovely against an imagined—but all too real—wasteland. And isn’t darkly dramatic like other literary depictions of a wasteland: it rejects the nihilism that would characterize a wasteland; it teases along those shorelines and splashes right out of the water with a musical laughter you can hear through the pages.

FLARE - Spring 2012

September 17, 2012
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This magazine’s name was recently changed from The Flagler Review (which is now its subtitle) to FLARE, and the content of this issue sparkles in ways that justify the title. In addition to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art, FLARE includes screenplays/plays as a regular feature.
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A terrific issue! Strong, memorable poems, including translations from the Italian by Martha Cooley and Antonio Romani of the work of Gianpiero Neri; a great essay by Katie Ford “Writing About the City: New Orleans, Destruction, and the Duty of the Poet”; a satisfying story by Urban Waite, “No One Heard a Thing in the Night the Chicken Died”; thoughtful book reviews; and Garth Greenwell’s “To a Green Thought” essay, this issue’s “Marginalia,” one of the journal’s most original and appealing features, which focuses this time on recordings of poems.
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A student journal as youthful and energetic and innocently/un-innocent as…well…youth: “You dig your fingers, thick with car grease / into me. I shiver toward you,” writes Caroline Kessler in “I Open My Mouth to the Storm.” Rob Rotell offers another storm of emotion in his story “A Couple of Problems,” which begins: “He woke up to Nikki’s crying. She sounded as if she was hiccupping. Her sobs were soft. They had a quick tempo.” Staci Eckenroth, too, starts off with a moment of heightened sensation in “a dime a dozen”:
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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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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.
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The journal’s first-ever special issue is a “Native Issue,” with contributions by writers “from many different places—tribal, geographic, aesthetic,” including writers who grew up in the Laguna Pueblo, and members of the Diné, Mi’kmaq Métis, Cherokee, Kanien ‘kehaka, Onodowaga, Yappituka Comanche/Southern Araphaho, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Arkansas Quapaw, Poarch Creek/Muscogee, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Oglala Lakota, Seneca, Sioux, Acoma Pueblo, Apache, and Chicasaw tribes and nations. These writers’ work is as distinct and diverse as the communities and nations into which they were born and/or have lived.

Emrys Journal - 2010

March 14, 2011
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By design, coincidence, or some intersection of the two, this issue focuses on writing about families. There are fathers: Judith Skillman’s prize-winning poem “June Bug” (“Heat dozes in the road. / You think of your father, / his love for the stars, / those summer evenings”); Kip Knott’s memoir-style prose “Gabriel’s Horns” (“My father, Gabriel Andrew Henry, had horns and a forked tongue”); and Dorothy Deaver Clark’s story “Still: Life” (“LeeEarle motioned the doctor to follow her to the bedroom where her father lay in his bed with hands clasped over the neatly drawn bedspread and his head propped up by two pillows sheathed with masterfully ironed pillows slips.”).
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Here is a journal that truly is of consequence—poetry, nonfiction prose, fiction, artwork, memoir, and a “discourse,” all by accomplished writers writing about subjects that matter. There isn’t a contribution that doesn’t warrant attention, but it would take me longer than the US has been at war in Afghanistan to describe and critique every piece in the issue, so I’ll preface my brief review with this disclaimer: the selections I’ve chosen to highlight here are not the only ones worth your time or $10 of your disposable income, if, indeed, you have any. If you don’t and you’re lucky enough to live in a community where the public or university libraries offer literary journals, do ask them to subscribe to Consequence.
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