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Katy Haas

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A slim annual, more chapbookish in its perfect-bound style, the content of The Eleventh Muse is anything but slim. The back cover gently boasts: “55 poems; 44 poets; 23 states; 4 countries.” What matters most to me is 1. Give me one great poem, and that makes my reading worthwhile, and this publication was more than worth my while.
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I love unassuming journals: those thinner, saddle-stitched endeavors with so few people working behind the scenes, I can count them on one hand. Some border on zine rather than lit mag, and it can be a hard call. With this publication, there is no question that this publication is right up there with much larger-staffed literary endeavors. With full-color throughout – photos, artwork, page design – this “little” publication is a huge feast for the eyes. As plagues fine art reproductions, however, there are some issues with resolution that I wish could be resolved, rather than holding the image at an arm’s length to limit the blur. The written works, poetry and fiction, are not to be held at arm’s length, but brought into close range. Not one piece in here I didn’t like for at least a line or stanza or image or feeling it dragged into me and out of me.

Saw Palm - Spring 2010

February 14, 2011
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Florida is a wildly unique collage of environments, from the gritty urban core of Miami to dense crocodile infested swamps; from the upscale shops of tropical Longboat Key to the historic architecture of Jacksonville, where the nights are distinctly northern with their chilly edges. This journal reflects this rich diversity from the edgy, tongue-in-cheek poetry of “spotlighted” poet Denise Duhamel, to the arch intelligence of prose stylist Janet Burroway (an interview and a story)—I have always admired them both.
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This strong issue includes the winner (Timothy Mullaney for “Green Glass Doors”) and runner-up (Susan Magee for “The Mother”) of Salamander’s first-ever fiction contest, three other stories, a memoir essay, and the work of more than two-dozen poets.

Reverie - 2010

February 14, 2011
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A special tribute issue of this journal of Midwestern African American Literature is devoted to Allison Joseph, Aquarius Press Legacy Award Recipient, five of whose poems appear here. The cover is an evocative portrait, “Mattress Man,” by accomplished photographer and fast-becoming ubiquitous poet Thomas Sayers Ellis, whose poem, “Absolute Otherwhere,” appears in the issue. Sayers Ellis has an eye for desolate views and an ear for inventive diction: “We know there’s a recognizable We, / an I-identifiable many.”

Redactions - 2010

February 14, 2011
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“For every poetic action there is…Redactions,” is the journal’s tagline. This issue’s “poetic actions” include poems by two-and-a-half-dozen poets, including such well-known names as David Wagoner, J.P. Dancing Bear, and Gerry LaFemina, and the less-widely established, but quite widely published Jeanine Hall Gailey and Walter Bargen; as well as “poetics,” substantial reviews of poetry books and blogs.
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This issue opens with a moving tribute to and a series of poems by widely published poet and former Fiddlehead editor Bill Bauer (1932-2010). Bauer was a Maine native and long-time resident of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, where the journal is published. It’s hard not to tear up on reading his first title here, “If I Don’t Tell You, No One Else Will; or, How Lucky You Are To Have Your Whole Lives Before You.” Lucky, too, to have a journal as pleasurable—and as enduring, the journal is in its sixty-fifth year—as Fiddlehead. Bauer is joined by 25 accomplished poets and fiction writers and a half-dozen smart book reviewers. This issue’s cover, too, deserves mention, a beautiful muted watercolor of seashells in a silver bowl by Fredericton native Andrew Henderson.
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Though Yellow Medicine County in southwest Minnesota is home to the native Dakota People, the first issue of Yellow Medicine Review includes artists indigenous to places as distant as Papua, New Guinea and Australia. It's expected that a journal with "Indigenous" in its title would have considerable negative references to the colonizing culture. As with most white American mutts – lineage too mixed to be certain of anything – I have enough Indian blood to be an embarrassment to the indigenous. Regardless of my whiteness, as a reader, the strongest pieces in this journal were not the ones condemning the past but those expressing the Indigenous experience as it is now.
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Two short stories in this issue of Sou’wester just knock me out: April Line’s “What It Would Be Like To Have a Baby With a Turnip” and Patricia Brieschke’s “Eat!” Both feature ordinary women as protagonists and both cover themes done before: the experience of pregnancy (Turnip) and self-starvation (Eat).
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The Southern Review prides itself on excellence, on not letting the reader off the hook. This issue has three essays on “Mind and Metaphor,” none of which are an easy task to read, partly because each of will unsettle your preconceived notions of those two abstract concepts.
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