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Katy Haas

Enizagam - 2011

October 15, 2012
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Enizagam is a breath of fresh air in the literary world. It proves that you don’t have to hold a master’s degree in order to enjoy, edit, and critique good literature. The young students at Oakland School for the Arts edit this literary magazine written by adults and for adult readership every year. Though it is a highly esteemed magazine, I had never gotten the pleasure of reading it until this issue, and it sure didn’t disappoint.
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Clockhouse Review’s best quality is that you don’t know what to expect. You’ll read a traditionally formed story about family dynamics, and then you’ll read a fake academic paper about medieval witches. Weird, but refreshing. Although CR boasts the usual suspects (poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction), it also features some unusual suspects such as graphic narrative and drama. Although it’s awesome to see these forms in literary magazines (more, please), I don’t think I’m the best judge of their quality. Truthfully, I find graphic narratives bizarre; although I can say that the one in this issue (“Stomach Hole” by Mike Mosher) is truly fascinating in its bizarreness.

Ink Pot - December 2003

February 29, 2004
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Unprepared for the edginess of this journal, I almost stopped reading Ink Pot less than a quarter of the way through. What a mistake that would have been. This is a journal brimming with life, its poems, stories and flash fiction crackling with energy.
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Stealing Time is a magazine for, about, and by parents. When I discovered its existence, I was immediately intrigued, yet wary as well. Would it have an angle, an agenda to promote? Would it rise above the content of most parenting magazines out there? Thankfully, the answers are no and yes. Stealing Time lives up to its mission statement: “To provide a venue for quality literary content about parenting: no guilt, no simple solutions, no mommy wars.”
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Quiddity has the variety anyone can enjoy: the new works of poetry, prose, art, and interviews are drawn from around the world. And the results and advantage of combining a literary and art journal with public radio programs is always intriguing. I don’t know how the radio station handled the paintings, but here we can view George Colin’s nine untitled pieces as support, counter-point, accompaniment, or just plain enjoyable.

NANO Fiction - 2013

July 14, 2013
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As an avid reader of flash fiction, I’ve long admired the diversity of writing featured in NANO Fiction. The journal’s 500-word ceiling for stories results in a showcase of quick, narrative-driven flash as well as prose that lingers with a heavy dose of lyricality. It ranges in genre from what we might call realist flash to work that is much more surreal, and everything in between. Through it all, the journal values work featuring language that is playful, explorative, and sharp.
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I’m a lifelong city-dweller, and reading High Desert Journal reminds me of one of my favorite experiences in travel: immersing oneself in a new normal. High Desert Journal “is a literary and visual arts magazine dedicated to further understanding of the people, places and issues of the interior West.” The key word is “understanding,” broad enough to encompass myriad means of expression, and at the same time narrow enough to tamper attempts at the pedantic or the exotic. There’s nothing fancy about the journal. The horses, rifles, ranches, and cowboy aspirations in the stories are not packaged as the stuff of artistic ambition, but rather parts of ways of life. The artwork and images bespeak the dedication of the journal to perpetuate the expression of the various understandings of this part of the world. For someone visiting from outside the region like me, High Desert Journal is a proud and easy-going host.
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The Georgia Review consistently delivers the best of contemporary fiction and poetry. Given its hefty reputation, it is no surprise that this issue is packed with high-quality writing from established authors. But above all else, this issue is an investment in Mary Hood, whose feature consumes two thirds of the journal. You may have never heard of her. I hadn’t. Hood is a southern writer whose history with The Georgia Review dates back to 1983, and whose fiction has been published in Harper’s Magazine, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, and more.
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I’ve never eaten a cactus before, but I hear that it’s very good once you make it past the prickly exterior. Editor Sara Rauch of Cactus Heart magazine explains on their website how literature and art should be like the succulent interior of the desert plant: “It should shock and wound and delight us; it should fill us with delight and terror and mystery. It should survive.” This issue is their first print issue, and it is certainly a delight to read.
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Despite the journal’s self definition – nonfiction narrative – one of this issue’s highlights is a piece that defies categorization, “On Dusk” by Teddy Macker, where the narrative is, I suppose we could say, implied and what we’re given to read is a series of observations: “Dusk’s antonym is cataclysm,” “This is not a dream, says dusk,” “There are mountains, says Dogen, hidden in mountains,” “The greatest gift of dusk is unassailable mildness.” There are three pages of these poetic remarks, as short as a sentence and as long as a short paragraph. Dusk is just the sort of emotional and physical experience that begs for this type of treatment, and I appreciate the shape of Macker’s thinking and the shape of the piece. But, it does call into question the meaning of “nonfiction narrative,” which serves, otherwise, I think, as a fine alternative to “creative nonfiction.”
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