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Katy Haas

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A good poetry journal is like one of those good coffee-table photography and art books. You can open them to any page and find something so thought-provoking that you are carried away and forever changed (NOTE: This is one great challenge of a paperless world). The editors of the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review have certainly accomplished this. HSPR has been around for more than thirty years and has had just two editors. Since 2008, the review’s second editor, Nathaniel Perry, has done an excellent job of picking up where Tom O’Grady, the founding editor, left things when he retired. In the past, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review has published the work of a Nobel Laureate, several Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, and two U.S. Poet Laureates.

Garbanzo - 2012

August 14, 2012
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Garbanzo is out to break some rules. I find this refreshing in the relatively staid world of literary magazines. Perhaps it’s my background in zine publishing that makes me sympathetic to those willing to buck the trends. First of all, this inaugural issue comes handsomely clothed in a silkscreened dust jacket. How many lit mags have you seen lately with a dust jacket, silkscreened or not? That’s what I thought. Garbanzo is also bound with fancy rivets and includes an attached ribbon bookmark (a thoughtful and handy feature). On the inside there are a few fold-out pages, and even some handwritten poems that nicely break up the otherwise printed text. So, this is a nice-looking publication, a labor of love. I can’t help wondering how long the editors will be able to maintain this level of quality for their limited run print editions (they also publish a digital version), but I will suspend my doubts for now.

Fox Cry Review - 2011

August 14, 2012
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I have a soft spot for university literary journals. Maybe it’s because I have a closer connection to these folks because I was a college student not too long ago and know what it’s like to wade through the slush pile in a tiny room at night with only a Snickers bar to keep me going.
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In May of this year, my pregnant daughter’s friend lost a baby two weeks before its due date. My daughter sobbed the news to me via cell phone, gasping, “I feel so guilty that I’m still pregnant!” Five weeks later, two days after she gave birth to a healthy girl, I dismounted badly from a horse; my blown knee collapsed under me, and I knew, horribly, that my grandmothering summer was over, faded into surgery and rehab.

Conclave - Spring 2012

August 14, 2012
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Conclave is a journal that revolves around strong characters in poetry and fiction, so don’t let the lady on the cover of the latest issue scare you away. Think of her as a concierge waiting to show you to your room. But this isn’t your typical hotel. Here you will rub shoulders with guests from out of space and time. Some of these guests are (or were) real people staying for the night while others come from the imaginations of talented writers.

South Loop Review - 2009

February 14, 2010
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South Loop Review, a journal of creative nonfiction and art/photography published by Columbia College in Chicago, “publishes essays in lyric and experimental form.” The editors prefer “non-linear narratives and blended genres…montage and illustrated essays, as well as narrative photography.” While a good deal of the work in Volume 11 is considerably more traditional in both form and style than this description, there are a number of provocative “non-linear” and “blended” efforts.

Rattle - Winter 2009

February 14, 2010
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This issue features more than four dozen poems in a general section, the work of Rattle Poetry Prize Winner Lynne Knight and ten honorable mention recipients, the work of 30 poets in a special “Tribute to the Sonnet,” and lengthy interviews by editor Alan Fox with Alice Fulton and Molly Peacock (Fulton and Peacock in the same issue! Too good to be true!). It’s hard not to be curious about nearly two-hundred pages of poems that begin, as this issue does, with Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s oh-so-American-current-preoccupation:

Per Contra - Fall 2009

February 14, 2010
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This lit mag is generally considered to be one of the better on the web at the present time. They state rather proudly that they have received a special mention in the 2007 Pushcart Prize anthology, along with two Best of Web anthology awards, and a top ten Million Writers Award – pretty good stuff. In reading their latest collection of fiction and poetry, it is easy to see why.

PEN America - 2009

February 14, 2010
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The opening invitational forum of PEN America was given to writers as choice on "Make Believe." The first option: “Imagine a book you wish you had written, either by yourself or by someone else, living or dead, real or imaginary.” I loved Cynthia Ozick’s playful answer:

NANO Fiction - 2009

February 14, 2010
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As the average attention span continues to decrease and the printed page is replaced by the teeny tiny screen, practitioners of flash fiction seem poised to take advantage of this evolution. The editors of NANO Fiction take the idea one step further. While many flash fiction narratives extend into the several hundreds of words, the stories in this volume are far shorter. The great struggle for the writer is to increase the potency of their narratives as the word count decreases.
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