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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted February 23, 2008

  • Issue Number Issue 80
  • Published Date Winter 2007
When a literary journal opens by recognizing the greatness of Dostoevsky and The Brothers Karamazov, it aims not just to entertain but to endure. Issue 80 of Toronto-based Brick embraces the world of words with arms more expansive than most literary journals. The giants of Russian literature are further celebrated in two memoir/biographies: the acrimony of Chekov's wife and his beloved sister is recalled by Gregory Altschuller, the deceased (1983) son of Chekov's doctor; Viktor Nekrasov journeys through post-Bulgakov Kiev to the house of Bulgakov's youth and place of his characters.
Devoted to the theme “Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives,” this issue proves editor Lee Gutkind’s premise that “less literary” topics also lend themselves to artful writing as well as the detailed reporting associated with journalism. I agree wholeheartedly. In these essays, the authors recount their often frustrating – sometimes edifying – experiences with the health care system using a variety of narrative styles and tones, but all of a very high caliber. The authors treat such varied topics as blindness, overmedication, kidney dialysis, hepatitis, a gastrointestinal disorder; and all of the authors slip in enough medical information so that non-specialists can easily understand. Yet the overarching topic is communication – or lack thereof – and the implications this process has on the quality of patient care.
  • Subtitle Northwest Mosaic
  • Issue Number Volume 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2007
The editors of Drash wanted their first issue to contain poetry, pictures and essays that “reflect joy, to find one’s way to it and to acknowledge its absence.” They succeeded. While the writing reflects all cultures, it heavily represents the Jewish culture in a very positive way, displaying the kindness, the depth and soul that made it continue for centuries with no homeland.
  • Issue Number Number 77
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If as I do, you like to not only read poetry but read about poetry (appreciations, explications, close textual analyses), then you’ll certainly want to delve into the 80-page symposium on Adrienne Rich that begins this volume and the two new poems by Rich that conclude it. In addition to those of Rich, this issue of Field largely favors works by established poets, including Carl Phillips, Marilyn Hacker, David Hernandez, Pattiann Rogers, and David Wojahn. Yet a few emerging poets, such as Megan Synder-Camp and Amit Majmudar, the later a writer of ghazals, have also been given a welcome voice, and translations of poems by Li Qingzhao, Uwe Kolbe, and Amina Saïd give the issue an international flavor as well.
  • Issue Number Volume XVII Number 2
  • Published Date Winter/ Spring 2007-8
Freefall: Canada’s Magazine of Exquisite Writing features selections from both Canadian and American authors, although the vast majority is Canadian. This journal is the first Canadian journal I’ve read, and I found the poems and stories clear, concise, and engaging.
  • Issue Number Volume 20 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date 2007
“American Apocalypse” – the theme of the twentieth anniversary double issue of Green Mountains Review. The editor discusses the differences between “dread” and “apocalypse”: “‘dread’ implies profound fear, even terror of some impending event” while “apocalyptic thinkers are more actively engaged…and sometimes actively embracing the apocalyptic event." The editor wants to add “imaginative perspective” to reflecting on the end of the world.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This handsome inaugural issue of Knockout Literary Magazine starts with a poem by Marvin Bell that could serve as a mission statement. “Knockout Poem” is a lament for the state of contemporary poetry: “I was like them. Even before the appetite for self-promotion / and glamour overtook our literature, back when books were books.” It is also a call to arms: “Poetry should have punch.” (A knockout, one assumes.)
  • Issue Number Volume 41 Number 2
This issue of The Laurel Review contains mainly poetry but also has a few selections of fiction, essays, and book reviews.
  • Issue Number Volume 21 Number 47
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2007
My most vivid memory of Chicago is talking to an old, toothless bag lady near a bus station toting her shopping cart, about 1980. She looked at me with great conviction, and said, “The lord is coming!” She seemed intelligent, most striking, and was definitely listening to a different drummer, predicting the end of all things. Other Voices has come to its end, and is equally striking, colorful, even mesmerizing. The last issue is a special “all-Chicago issue,” consisting of twenty-two short stories by both established and new Chicago writers, plus two interviews and a splash of reviews.
  • Issue Number Issue 39
  • Published Date 2007
A sparkling array of African American writers is featured in this issue of Pembroke Magazine. The editors chose to feature the Caroline African American Writers Collective (CAAWC), plus more African American prose and poetry.
An all-poetry issue. No short fiction, excerpts, or memoirs to help shake off the feeling of confusion or understanding that follows a two-page long poem. That is why this magazine should be taken in doses, not inhaled nonstop from beginning to end. The formats are adventurous, and the language is crisp and new. The topics range from playful to thought provoking, yet it all seems to melt together perfectly.
  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2007
This edition of Rattle includes a tribute to nurses that makes this issue worthwhile on its own. The nursing section has personal essays from poet-nurses, such as Courtney Davis, T.S. Davis, Anne Webster and Christine Wideman, describing how they became both writers and nurses, which role was dominate at what point in their lives, and how nursing feeds into their writing. They talk of the sensuousness of nursing, the essential selflessness and empathy nurses experience, and how that “otherness” affects their poetry. Courtney Davis wrote movingly about her favorite patient: “A few weeks after my patient died, not knowing what else to do, I dug out my old poetry notebook…” “Writing about her death, I felt a sudden, inexplicable joy…” “I had also, in the writing, let her go.”
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2007
The debut of a journal brings tentative excitement to the entrenched literary scene. Can a newbie survive a crowded marketplace funded largely by ego? What distinctive editorial vision will buoy the perils of distribution, promotion, and un(der)appreciation? Some sink, some sail, but the masthead of the second issue of Thereby Hangs a Tale includes the crew’s superpowers, which can only help. Based out of Portland, Oregon, the slender, black-and-white journal runs regular sections, like Tales Told (nonfiction), Tall Tales (fiction), Rants, a closing We ♥ Libraries, and a journal-entry-like sprinkling of revelations. The editors call it an art project; the content, like the contributors who range from novelists to retirees, is free of literary pretensions and silly snobbery.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2007
Tuesday; An Art Project may technically be a literary journal; however, ‘art project’ describes it so much better. It arrives as a series of postcard-like cards, printed on one or both sides, with poems, photographs or prints, well wrapped in sturdy, folded, thick, almost cardboard-like paper. The title and subtitle are neatly printed on one side of the wrapper, the names of the authors and artists on the other, plus the subscription price. It unfolds to display a table of contents inside, plus a list of editors, advisory board, detailed background description of the artists and authors, a featured poem, and, the cards themselves. There are eighteen sturdy, pure-white, five-by-seven-inch cards; fourteen contain poems, four display photographs.

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