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CutBank - Spring 2004

"High quality" and "serious intent" is what CutBank seeks, say the journal's guidelines. I'd add work that's willing to take risks, tends toward solemnity or at least finds the world more distressing or perplexing than awe-inspiring (which is hard not to do these days) and eclectic in style. An odd, but marvelous story by Katie Hays, "Bean People," says it all: "I always want things just right. They aren't just right, but what's the problem with wanting them that way?" This story's tactics, the use of lists and charts and family trees might appear as a gimmick in less capable hands, but here they are clever and successful. Of particular note in this issue is the memorable work of poets with a solid publication history, but limited notoriety (Fady Joudah, Sharon Chmielarz), and poets who appear to have few publications and clearly deserve to be read (Bridgette Bates, Alison Hoffman). Chmielarz, who has devoted much of her career to reviving lost or forgotten women contributes "Subjects (Three Parts)," dedicated to Artemisia Gentileschi, a 16th century painter: "…before she even / enters a room, she's already painting / her reaction according to who sits there." We will watch the painter watch her subject "catching the stars in her fist." I'm holding stars in my first, too, with this issue of CutBank.

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Review Posted on June 30, 2004
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