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Katy Haas

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It may or may not be intentional (though given this journal’s outstanding editorial management, it is likely to be deliberate), but the relationship between this issue’s cover and the poem “Desert” by Adonis, translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa, is nothing short of exquisite. The cover photo is a 1938 “Night View” of New York City by the always-amazing Berenice Abbott. The Adonis poem begins: “The cities dissolve, and the earth is a cart loaded with dust / Only poetry knows how to pair itself to this space.” The poem and photograph are both, as they should be, impossible to describe accurately, except to say that each evokes a particular atmosphere that could not be a better example of the medium’s potential and success. “The city’s voice was too tender,” writes Adonis (such a beautifully translated poem). This is a long poem of shifting tones, expertly rendered, as Abbott’s photo is a composite of so many lights, creating one whole ultra-real vision.
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The Hollins Critic is one reason why print publications must never be allowed to perish. You simply cannot duplicate, imitate, or recreate this type of pleasure online. Just 24 pages, a sleek, understated experience of intelligent reading. One full-length essay; a few short reviews; a few well-chosen poems. You can read it one sitting, though you may wish to make it last longer. This little publication always reminds me of the adage “less is more.”
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Freefall is true to its name, and you never know where you’ll land. John Wall Barger’s prose poem “Scream” begins on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and winds up in India in the early years of the next century:
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Reading The Sun is like spending a few hours with a very smart and environmentally-aware friend who is also a little bit of a goof. The theme of this independent, ad-free journal varies month to month, but the prose, poetry and photography selections tend to create an over-arching narrative like a well-ordered book of poetry.
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Still Point Arts Quarterly is the print publication of the virtual Still Point Art Gallery based out of Brunswick, Maine. Their premise: “That art and artistry possess the capability to transform the world.” It is a laudable belief and Still Point’s editor, owner and director Christine Brooks Cote is working admirably to see this premise through, as the art, artist portfolios, feature articles, poetry and exhibition information chosen for this journal are of exceptional quality.

Ruminate - Summer 2011

October 19, 2011
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Get past any queasiness at this journal’s title right away and plunge into its rich substance. This five-year anniversary issue has a theme—feasting—and the poetry, nonfiction, book review and artwork appearing in the large-format fifty-six pages are well-chosen by the editors to cohere around this theme. Production values, including full-page four-color reproductions of artwork, are opulent. Only a classicist would object to the background grayscreen flourishes which adorn some of the pages, apparently chosen at random to be thus graced. The enormous pull-quotes, though, in the nonfiction pieces, are so huge that at a glance one might think they signal the beginning of a new story. Although the subtitle of the magazine is “chewing on life, faith and art,” the messages of faith in the various works, including the editor’s column, are generally subtle, causing nary a wince for this reader.
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The latest issue of The Ledge is dense. Not hard to get through, not incomprehensible; I mean actually dense. At just over 300 pages, it’s their longest issue to date. And while it’s certainly understandable (and often enjoyable) that most literary journals break up their included works with artwork, book reviews, etc., sometimes it’s nice to just read pages and pages and pages of fiction and poetry. Especially when the pieces are as stylistically varied and well-written as those in The Ledge.

Grain - Spring 2011

October 19, 2011
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Grain, “the journal of eclectic writing,” comes to us from Canada and was a 2011 finalist in Canada’s Western Magazine Awards in the category Magazine of the Year Saskatchewan. Grain is proudly, if not aggressively, Canadian (though it publishes two American poets in this issue). After thirty-eight years of publication, Grain continues to throw a spotlight on Canadian writing in this 101-page issue.

Catfish Creek - 2011

October 19, 2011
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Loras College, the Catholic liberal arts college in Dubuque, Iowa, has inaugurated what I think is long overdue and should be welcomed with huzzahs from East to West: Catfish Creek, a literary journal “intended as a showcase for undergraduate writers from across the country and around the world.” O ye scads of undergraduate creative writing majors, minors, and hopefuls, and all those who teach and mentor said scads, should unite in praise of the concept—and the execution. Demonstrating the variety and depth of which undergrads are capable, this is a very fine first volume. May there be many more!

CALYX - Summer 2011

October 19, 2011
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You certainly don’t have to be a woman to enjoy the enticing lines found in CALYX. For thirty-five years, CALYX has been bringing women’s voices to life within their pages. The summer 2011 issue is a compact collection of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, art, and book reviews. The writing is smart, remarks witty, and images powerful. In this issue, the reader will encounter a goddess cleaning out her purse, an aging couple who have lost both memory and close friends, and witness the destruction of cancer. Calyx features work from writers that is so poignant and striking, you will be thinking about their words for days.
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