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Katy Haas

Welter - 2010

July 14, 2011
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Sitting down with a hot mug of coffee and looking at the landscape-style, bright green literary magazine sitting flat on the table in front of me, my first thought was, I hope I don't stain this. My second thought on the cover, after having read through the pages between the two covers, was that the content was just as strange and delightful. Well, most of it. Some of it was more strange than delightful, and some more delightful than strange. Still, I'm glad I didn't stain it.
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Published twice a year, the Tulane Review is a student-run literary and art journal published by the Tulane Literary Society, which claims on its website to be the “hub of all literary activity” on the Tulane University campus in New Orleans. Nestled in the uptown section of the Crescent City, near where the Mississippi River snakes so tightly it nearly doubles back on itself, Tulane University is itself a hub of literary activity. The works of the forty-seven writers and artists published in this edition are like the intermingling effluents of the hundreds of rivers and tributaries that stream together in the Mississippi River.
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The recently published “Summer Reading” issue of Tin House is… well, it is…
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Founded in 1965, Salmagundi magazine takes pride in its spectrum of essays, reviews, interviews, fiction, poetry, regular columns, polemics, debates and symposia. In the past, the magazine has featured the likes of acclaimed literary figures such as J.M. Coetzee, Christopher Hitchens, Susan Sontag, and Joyce Carol Oates. Additionally, the magazine boasts that it showcases neither a liberal nor conservative predilection, proclaiming that, “in short, Salmagundi is not a tame or genteel quarterly. It invites argument, and it makes a place for literature that is demanding.”
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Arguably, there is a line between humanity and the supernatural. There is the world as we know it and there is that which is otherworldly. The latter may be interpreted as: God (in all his/her/its forms); Death; the Spirit; Magic. Regardless of what we choose to call it, our fascination with it is and always will be present. In the latest issue of the Mid-American Review, we see the line crossed and re-crossed. We see it buried in dust, painted over with vibrant colors, twisted, stretched, formed into something more like a circle, or a knot. Almost every piece acknowledges, to some degree or another, forces beyond character control.
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The Fall/Winter 2010-11 issue of MAKE is dedicated to the spirit of play. And the work presented within is most definitely playful – both in its layout and its content. But don’t assume that because its framework is built around play that it must also be somehow unsophisticated or impetuous. As the editors point out at the start, “the seemingly lighthearted subthemes are all tempered by profound solemnity.” MAKE explores the youthful pastime of play, but in the end offers up very grown-up compilation of literary work.
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The editor’s note of Issue 12 of Literary Bohemian promises an escape for summer, urging readers to “let the summer change the equation to x = why.” Through 17 poems, all rich with setting, the issue definitely accomplishes this goal.
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There are few among us who can say that a disability, in some form or another, hasn’t affected our life or the life of someone we love. Whether it is an accident that results in paralysis, a struggle with mental illness, chronic disease or a learning disability, the fact is, according to the United States Department of Labor, nearly fifty million people in this country have a disability. Kaleidoscope, born out of a beautiful idea back in 1979, is the literary journal published by the the United Disability Services. It gives voice to those living with, or within the shadow of, a disability. This issue of Kaleidoscope is a thoughtful literary collection that focuses on the experience of disability while avoiding any unnecessary sentimentality. Within its fiction, personal essays, poetry, articles and reviews the undercurrent moves readers through content rich with honest stories of determination.
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Small but mighty, Jackson Hole Review makes its debut into the realm of literary magazines. If you’ve ever wondered about the strength and validity of place-based magazines, the lead essay “Almost Paradise” by Kim Barnes will give plenty of proof positive. Telling her own story of growing up near water and having to leave it behind, Barnes lays painfully bare how deeply connected she was and the mental and emotional suffering she experienced with leaving. Barnes turns to Jung and Campbell for the psychology and mythology of these deeper reactions we have to the planet, “You see, it is not simply the place that I miss, but the recognizable stories it contains. […] What I know is that the stories that take place in a particular landscape are what give us a strong sense of belonging, of attachment. They give us a sense of shared history, a narratival investment. […] How can we separate ourselves from the land that holds our stories?” Barnes’s essay is a good lead-in along with the editorial, setting up the theme of the magazine: Connect/Disconnect.
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With this volume of the Hudson Review, the magazine features an exemplary selection of Spanish authors and writings, juxtaposing the modern against the established, such as Edith Grossman, Antonio Muñoz Molina, and Lorna Knowles showcased with the likes of William Carlos Williams, Jorge Luis Borges, and Pablo Neruda. Reading almost like a highly compact and sleek version of a staggering anthology, the issue does not aim to define the Spanish identity, but instead to spotlight a variation of strong voices and create a mosaic of cultural and social experiences.
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