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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted March 19, 2008

  • Issue Number Issue 5
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Alimentum publishes “the literature of food.” When I first opened this magazine, I thought I knew what that meant. Poems about sandwiches, maybe, sentimental stories about grandma’s cherry pie. I thought that, at best, this magazine would succeed in making me hungry. Boy was I wrong. Almost from the first page, reading this magazine was an educational experience. I learned all kinds of interesting things about food, but more importantly, I learned something about the power of good writing.
  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 3
  • Published Date December 2007
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies is a large, thin, easy-to-read magazine. According to the Guidelines for Contributors, this publication prints academic articles in addition to poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction, but the December 2007 edition focuses on literary contributions. This issue features a long, fascinating interview with author Scott Ely, covering his time in Vietnam, his writing and research methods, and his screen writing experiences. This interview is followed by “The Poisoned Arrow,” a short story by Ely, which is full of vivid South Carolina flavor.
  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
When I think of this volume as a whole, poignancy and humor are powerfully juxtaposed. Grouped together under the conflict theme are Korkut Onaran’s “War,” Fred Voss’ “Machinist Wanted,” Jamaal May’s “Triage,” and Vuong Quoc Vu’s “Flower Bomb.” This last poem won the review’s 2007 International Poetry Competition with lines like these:
  • Issue Number Number 49
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
An issue of Conjunctions would be a double or triple issue for almost any other literary magazine. Even the word "magazine" doesn’t seem quite accurate. An issue of Conjunctions is a book. That said, this one actually is a double issue. The first half is titled “A Writers’ Aviary: Reflections on Birds” and the latter half is a “Special Portfolio: John Ashbery Tribute.”
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Siblinghood – an intriguing theme. In this issue of Cream City Review, I liked how the theme of siblinghood was always present, but not necessarily the focus. Often, the sibling relation adds a dimension to the main story (such as in the wonderful “Flashlights” by Zach Bean, which is a love story first and a brothers story second) or is observed from afar by an “outsider” (e.g. “Skin,” by Theresa Milbrodt, where a mother observes her daughters, one struggling with the same skin condition as her mom, the other healthy). In Yannick Murphy's delightful “Unreal Blue,” the issue of siblinghood is almost coincidental: this is a family story. But other stories put the focus right on the narrator's feeling for a brother or sister. Perhaps not surprisingly, these stories are often raw and painful, e.g. Kelly Spitzer's “Inside Out Of You,” which is both accusation and praise of the narrator's unstable sister, or Benjamin Percy's sinister, almost gothic “The Whisper.”
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I was curious to see how Ecotone would implement its motto “Reimagining Place.” To be honest, I was worried I'd get to read dutiful reports along the lines of “what we did on our holidays,” or “the weird customs in country X.” But no, Ecotone turned out to offer surprising and entertaining reimaginings of place – of all kinds of places: The world of corporate sharks (“Broadax Inc” by Bill Roorbach); a Swiss cottage where the narrator and her best friend, a marijuana plant named “Shrubbie,” explore the intricacies of human-plant if not human-squirrel communication, with bittersweet consequences (“My Shrub of Emotion” by Trinie Dalton); a world like ours which is invaded by sudden periods of complete silence (“The Year of Silence” by Kevin Brockmeier); and so many more. All stories go beyond the somewhat bland type of travel/nature writing I was expecting (skeptic that I am).
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In the first issue of Fifth Wednesday Journal, publisher and editor Vern Miller provides a brief explanation for the origin and purpose of creating this new literary magazine. Established as an extension of a group of “literary pilgrims,” known as the Fifth Wednesday Writers, Fifth Wednesday Journal’s primary purpose is to reflect “a wide spectrum of styles,” and will therefore institute a rotating series of guest editors who will have “maximum latitude” in their editorial choices. The journal hopes to encourage both well established and new writers by reading submissions “blind.”
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 2
  • Published Date Autumn 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Trés chic. I liked Grain Magazine the moment I saw this issue's elegant black/white/blood-red cover. Luckily, the content didn’t force me to revise my opinion. This issue is split in two parts: a regular part with fiction and poetry, and a section celebrating the winners of the “Short Grain” micro-fiction and nonfiction contest.
  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The cover of the Winter 2007 edition of the Indiana Review, painted by Sally Harless, features a moose and a boy in a moose suit staring at each other. This artwork captures two of the themes that are shrewdly explored in this issue: childhood and identity.
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 4
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Although the New England Review contains mainly poetry and prose, I thought the highlight of this issue were the nonfiction pieces.
  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Phoebe is a thin volume, weighing in at 110 pages, but it more than compensates with a huge variety of genre, style, and subject matter. Charles Bernstein’s poem, “The 100 Most Frequent Words in My Way: Speeches and Poems,” is fairly self-explanatory: simply a column of the most frequently used words in alphabetical order. Many of the words chain together and webs of meaning form and expand so that upon reaching the end, one has a distilled sense of Bernstein’s book. Also included is work by Joe Hall, Miriam Stewart, Brandon Lewis, and more.
  • Issue Number Volume 81 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of Prairie Schooner contains poetry, short stories, reviews, and great cover art by Chris Ware which made me want to read his graphic novels.
  • Issue Number Volume 5 Issue 1
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Redivider is a finely-woven fabric of flash fiction, short stories, poetry, nonfiction, visual art, book reviews, and one solid interview.
  • Issue Number Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Short Story is a sleek and slim publication containing three short stories, one interview, and one photo essay in its total of 81 pages. The front cover is plain black with the publication name and contents subtly centered in sophisticated lime green type. It is the perfect size to hold in the palm of your hand, the perfect weight and density to carry in your purse, backpack, or back pocket. From the outset I was impressed by Short Story’s exterior style and was relieved to discover that its interior was equally satisfying.
  • Issue Number Volume 44 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Before my obsession with literary magazines began, Brett Lott – The Southern Review’s editor – spoke to my writing group. At the end of his talk, he put a plug in for the literary journal. If I would have known then what I do now, I would have ordered The Southern Review immediately. But I did not. Now I know it’s one of the country’s oldest reviews, consistently publishing some of the best writing. The current issue is no exception.
  • Issue Number Issue 129
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Gorgeousness. This magazine looks beautiful with its elegant matte cover and the generously laid-out pages. I found the reading experience luxurious, too. Usually I read literary magazines during the day and my private books in the evening, for pleasure. When I picked up TriQuarterly in the evening, I knew I had found a treat.
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