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Katy Haas

Rattle - Summer 2006

August 31, 2006
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This issue of Rattle includes forty-two poems in a “Tribute Section” celebrating the magazine's 25th anniversary. Reading these poems, and William O'Daly's brilliant essay, “Speaking Freely: Poetry, Torture, and Truth,” I was sorry I'd ever missed a single issue of the journal. (The essay is the second half of a two-part essay, which may be found in its entirety at www.poetsagainstthewar.org.) The tribute is introduced by editor Stellasue Lee, who describes her interaction with Rattle poets over the years and includes their thoughts on the poetic process (many of which are also included in the “Contributors' Notes”).
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This glossy, rightfully called “The New Yorker of the South,” has folded three times yet never lost enough of its creative momentum to keep it down. Dedicated to the “Best of the South,” this issue not only features colorful pieces by regular contributors, but defensive editor Mark Smirnoff actually kept his introduction short enough (Issue 52 featured a 7-page rant about a hoax) to fit a 25-page special section filled with inspired odes to the people, places and flavors that make the South distinct: a drive-in theater that also sells guns; a family of 16 eerie cemetery statues — including a horse, fox and deer — all facing east, in Kentucky; a quirky tribute to actor Warran Oates by hilarious and not-yet-adequately appreciated Jack Pendarvis; funeral culture and a dying relative; a butterscotch pie. Laced with luminous photographs, picking a favorite from these would like trying to pick your favorite single flavor in a bowl of jambalaya.
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In this issue’s engaging and entertaining interview with novelist Lance Olsen, conducted by Renée E. D’Aoust, Olsen dismisses prose he considers to be “the art of consolation and solace” and describes the texts that excite him most: “…the ones that impede easy accessibility, move us into regions of disturbance, make us feel the opposite of comfortable…I can’t imagine a more important role for writing. Wake up, wake up, wake up, the more important of it says.”
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The always excellent Stephen Dixon leads off the seventeenth issue of Meridian with “Going Back,” the story of Meyer, a writer who gets his best ideas for stories right after he’s had sex with his wife.
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The poetry in The Louisville Review is accomplished-sounding, conventional and predictably “poetic.” The second piece attests to this: “Koi and goldfish drift in languorous bliss.”
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The Kenyon Review can always be counted on for exceptional poetry and prose; their latest effort is no exception. A wonderful new section debuts in this issue, Andre Bernard’s “The Casual Reader,” in which the author discusses the books that found their way onto his reading list and struck a chord.
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It’s a confident mag that simply calls itself “The Journal,” as if it were the only one, but after 33 years of publication, The Journal has earned that right. Committed to publishing “writing not easily classified by genre,” this volume packs 132 potent pages.
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The spring issue, celebrating fifty-eight years of publication for The Hudson Review, is fiction free, focusing instead on criticism, cultural essays, and poetry.

Event - 2006

August 31, 2006
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The new issue of Event, a Canadian magazine out of Douglas College, gets off to a promising start with the “Notes on Writing” section, a suite of brief essays that cover the perils of writing about one’s family, using the “cheese factor” as a means of evaluating poetry, the balance between “real life” and creative pursuits, pop culture, and the art of concentration.
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If you think literary criticism couldn't possibly appeal to anyone but other writers of literary criticism, this issue of College Literature  may change your mind. Serious readers and writers of poetry will be interested in Nigel Fabb and Morris Halle's theory of metrical verse, presented in their essay “Metrical Complexity in Chrisinta Rosetti's Verse.”
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