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Katy Haas

eye-rhyme - 2003

September 30, 2003
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A little journal. Sometimes when we say "little" we mean inconsequential, insubstantial, or sometimes we may mean unnoticed or even unpretentious. But when it comes to eye-rhyme, I mean, literally, little. This diminutive volume measures about 4 ½ x 4 ½, which gives it an "experimental" aspect from the get go. I appreciate the opportunity to think about the meaning of "experimental literature," which in the case of eye-rhyme includes: unusual, original, and/or hybrid forms, language that deliberately strives to break the conventions of normative logic, attention to non "mainstream" or "commercial" literary endeavors, a preponderance of images and language from "popular culture,” an eroticism that borders on the pornographic, and a tone, in much of the poetry, as well as the prose, that defies definition, but that somehow manages to be both bold and casual.
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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.”
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Most of the poems in this issue of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, with its cover picture of a dove with a peace sign and a giant “PEACE” announcing its theme, have to do, surprisingly enough, with peace.
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This generously-spirited review produced at the County College of Morris in New Jersey focuses solely on New Jersey writers and artists, but contains a surprising diversity of work.

The Seattle Review - 2003

September 30, 2003
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The Seattle Review, which has been one of my favorite journals since before I moved to Seattle, has recently become the new bastion of the Pacific Northwest literary scene, and it certainly manifests a renewed glamour in its latest issue. The featured retrospective of Sharon Olds by Linden Ontjes, and essay by Olds herself, generously full of her poetry and personal photos, would, by themselves, make this issue a must-have.
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The august tradition of Southern writing that is The Southern Review comes by its reputation honestly.
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The debut issue of this attractive, glossy saddle-stitched review features poems by the likes of A.E. Stallings, Molly Peacock and Annie Finch. The National Poetry Review “favors formal verse” as demonstrated in these lyric lines by Ellen Kirvin Dudis from her poem “Betta Splendens”: “Love never offers. I see another, / not the other. Nights, I rise for air / -O lost lagoon, O submerged fire- / and on three inches of water / float these kisses. Your heart’s no larger than the jar.”

Tin House - Fall 2008

November 19, 2008
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This is the “political issue,” which I am reading just prior to the election, and I am, paradoxically, glad, almost relieved to find the sad ironies (The title page quotes John F. Kennedy, “The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war”), popular truths (the Editor’s Note begins with the old bumper sticker adage, “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention."), and delighted to find that Tin House is as provocative as ever, especially when we need it most.

Shenandoah - Fall 2008

November 19, 2008
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“All I can say is what I do myself, and that is that I don’t think about theory at all. I have no theory of poetry. If something works for a particular poem, it works.” Brendan Galvin in this interview with Thomas Reiter, is honest, approachable, serious, sincere, much like this issue of Shenandoah and like his poems, several of which are included here. Reiter’s own poem, “Signaling,” which appears later in the issue, is a fine example, quiet, deftly composed, sure of itself, but in a vulnerable, human way. These poets are joined by more than a dozen others this issue, along with five short stories, two essays, a portfolio of beautifully composed color photographs by Larry Stene, the journal’s typically superb reviews of new poetry and fiction, and brief remarks in memory of the late George Garrett.

Poetry - October 2008

November 19, 2008
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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.
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