NewPages.com is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more.

NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted February 16, 2009

  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
At the risk of sounding a bit dramatic, I have to say I was enthralled by the beauty contained within Ascent, the seasonal literary journal out of Concordia College. Filled with highly-memorable essays, poems and short stories, this issue found a place inside my tote bag for over a week as I found myself rereading it several times.
  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of Basalt, an Eastern Oregon University issued poetry and short prose journal, contains the work of seventeen writers and one visual artist: Timothy C. Ely, whose book The Observatory demands close scrutiny and makes the viewer look at the heavens differently. Many of the poems should also be studied, especially the ones mentioned herein.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
When you first hold the poetry journal Bateau in your hands, it reminds you of a well-crafted chapbook with some abstract art of a flat bottomed boat (the journal’s namesake), or if you are not in the know, like some strange design project from a school of design student with a wash of blue coming out in the form of the boat’s canopy. The poems here tell a human narrative that is instantly recognizable no matter the form or the foreign or alien way in which a topic is often tackled.
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Cave Wall is a poetry journal inundated with the idea that all of us are traveling between borders as well as the metamorphosis such trips often engender. It is the transformative that exists in the perils and joys of every day existence that line the often narrative structures of each poem. The dark woodcuts by Dennis Winston add to this evocative rendering of the every day, whether it is in his piece “Winter Haze” or the melancholy and subdued image of the boy in “Innocence.”
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I had never before read an issue of Freshwater, a journal produced yearly by the Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, CT. In her “Editor’s Note,” Edwina Trentham is full of thanks, particularly to student editors who seem to be responsible for much of the journal’s production (as opposed to some lit mags who only allow students to be involved in the very early stages of selection, or just production grunt work). This note also revealed the dedication of the Freshwater team; many men and women clearly spent a great deal of time on this issue and I find this exceedingly refreshing. What’s better than a group of editors that care deeply about the selection and production process?
  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
By accident, or by design, I’m not sure which, this issue of George Washington University’s student-led magazine is ripe with food imagery. The award-winning student fiction (called “Senior Contest”) sets the tone with Jessica Deputato’s “Flour and Water,” a story about food, family, and flesh (tattoos) – the undiluted bonds between them. A poem by Andrew Payton, “The Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Blues,” continues the food theme, albeit tongue in cheek, or should I say fork in powdered yellow cheese substitute. Amy Katzel’s poem, “I am Peeling You,” moves the reader from the endless possibilities in the title (eggs? apples? potatoes?) to a more graphic, no less food-oriented exploration (“off my eggshell wall”) and lament (“We did this to each other, / my voice, yours, / Minutes and years, mornings // all the slices of burnt toast, gallons of milk, / books started and finished”). Janelle Holden remembers a different kind of breakfast, one that evokes the flavors of a trip to “San Ignacio, Belize”:
  • Issue Number Volume 21 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Washington Post once accused this journal of “carrying literary elitism to new, and annoying, heights,” and TGR proudly uses this quote in their advertising. Under the expert guidance of editor Peter Stitt, they have been consistently presenting high level fiction, nonfiction, poetry, criticism, and art for many years. I have always been particularly attracted to the poetry, which ranges from the lyrical and evocative to the audacious.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
GLOSSOLALIA is devoted to the rare breed in the literary world known as flash fiction, pieces that are most often 500 words or less. With its abstract tic-tac-toe cover and its theme for this issue, “Tongues on Fire,” one gets the sense that the miniscule fraction of experiences that these narratives expose us to, as well as the time that passes us each day, are meant to be digested as rapidly as life seems to happen.
  • Issue Number Issue 8
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In a note from the editor, Elizabeth Quinn says that her “inspiration for High Desert Journal was to create a platform for artists and authors living in and inspired by a place that is often times overlooked for its cultural resources.” This journal accomplishes her intent: it shows that art takes place and that artists live outside major metropolises.
  • Issue Number Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of the Indiana Review is about one thing: really good reading. An enormous number of very fine poems, seven strong stories, and a handful of well-written and often entertaining book reviews. Poems with special appeal for their careful, poetic (in the best sense of heightened, yet never arch or stiff) or particularly memorable language, and original and never purely self-serving imagery, like poetry contest winner Pilar Gómez-Ibañez (“Losing Bedrock Farm”) who has huge success with Richard Hugo’s inspiring advice “Think Small”; Joanna Klink (“Greenest”) who retrieves many overused and over burdened poetry favorites (rain, stars) from the dead metaphor heap; and Wayne Miller, whose poem in the form of a poetic letter to Auden is striking in its economy and restraint, which results in overwhelming in emotional power:
  • Issue Number Volume 25 Numbers 3/4
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2003
The Kenyon Review offers a special edition, with the theme of culture and place. The annual index appears in the back, offering an overview of an entire year fiction and poetry. Poems focus on place, from Jennifer Grotz’s artistic “Arrival in Rome” to the incredibly detailed “A Flat in Jaipur” by Vinay Dharwadker. The latter poem offers brilliantly vivid images, from the rainbow film of oil on water to banana peels “black and limp as strips of leather” (122). “Japanese Magnolia” by Virgil Suarez paints a delicate picture of the lovely flower, with simplistic double lined stanzas rich with meaning. The poems create scenes from distant countries, heightening the reader’s awareness of the world.
  • Issue Number Volume 31 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
A glorious 70th anniversary issue. “Within these pages we offer a model of what KR has aspired to across those decades,” explains the editor’s note, “remarkable stories by friends of long-standing…and emerging authors who offer vibrancy and freshness right now and who may well come to take their own places among the renowned.” Long-standing friends in this issue include Joyce Carol Oates, E.L. Doctorow, and Carl Phillips. This issue’s “New Voice” is poet Kascha Semonovitch, introduced by Kenyon Review poetry editor David Baker. The edition also features the winners of the magazine’s short fiction contest (limited to writers under 30 with submissions of no longer than 1200 words, selected and introduced by Alice Hoffman); poems by a roster of “poetry stars,” in addition to Carl Phillips (Linda Gregerson, Michael S. Harper, Rachel Hadas, Carol Muske-Dukes, among others); and essays by Rebecca McLanahan, Wyatt Prunty, and Alfred Corn.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Putting together a literary journal filled with quality work is a challenging task. Putting together one issue of a journal with a theme is even more difficult. Launching a journal that hopes to focus on entirely on one subject must seem impossible! When I first heard about The LBJ: Avian Life, Literary Arts Journal, I was intrigued by the moxy behind it and simply had to check it out. Could this journal really be all about birds?
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This is a somewhat quirky fledgling literary magazine that is just cranking up and has fond hopes for its future. Not only are the winter offerings presented online, but a print edition is also available for purchase. The website is a little difficult to negotiate, but the offerings range from fiction and poetry to interviews and book reviews.
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Anyone wishing to peek into the future of the online literary magazine needs only to pull this one up on their screen. There is a brief signing up process and then an impressive array of work that is available for the choosing. This particular issue has fiction, nonfiction, poetry, “features,” and one “classic,” which happens to be an essay on writing by W. H. Auden. To keep one further entertained, the website has cartoons that are changed regularly, a “ Poem of the Week,” and a “Story of the Week.”
  • Issue Number Volume 29
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Fifteen pages devoted to a new translation of Jean de la Fontaine’s 17th century fables in verse (translated by Craig Hill)? How could these little tales of “country wisdom” interest me, I wondered? Wow, did I rush to a hasty and erroneous judgment! This is marvelous stuff. An impressive translation of work that is much more engaging and original than I remembered from college French classes. Difficult work, this example of “Revisitations,” as this section of the journal is called – verse that rhymes to mirror the original with precision, grace, and panache. And de la Fontaine’s little stories aren’t half bad either! These translations are from a full-length collection of the fables out this past fall from Arcade with illustrations – imagine! – by Edward Gorey.
  • Issue Number Volume 75 Number 1
  • Published Date 2008-2009
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
We enter our 75th year true to our mission, with three newer voices in fiction – Olufunke Grace Bankole, Ryan Clary, and Stephanie Powell Watts, who have no books yet but surely will – and one voice established and admired – a poet, essayist, and storyteller – Paul Zimmer…The same variety occurs among the poets and essayists – each generation of literary writer offering hope that we need not stay in the realm of ideology or ideas, but can move to something deeper, more human, more fun.
  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle annual
Tyranny. Power. Virulence. Virile. Vigorous. Vivid. I finally found my way from the authority to mastery. The New York Tyrant is, if nothing, both powerful (read strong language, strong images, strong opinions) and masterful (read self-assured, forceful, and determined). It’s also virile in a more conventional sense (predominately male contributors) and in a literary sense (muscular, aggressive).
  • Issue Number Volume 75 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
My favorite part of North Dakota Quarterly is the “sea changes” – poetic little narratives about books that changed the reader’s (now the writer’s) life (way of thinking). This issue is swimming in fine poems, stories, and essays, nonetheless, I am most taken with these musings about “books that matter” and appreciate the chance to engage with something that is part personal essay, part “lit crit” of a sort, part book review, and part something new, a kind of “moment in time” memoir, for as the editors explain in their note, “the impact of a book depends not only on how it is read but when” (emphasis theirs). Fred Arroyo discusses V.S. Naipul. Robert Lacy explores his relationship with Joyce. Richard C. Kane considers Bruce Chatwin. Engaging, too, in the same way is Patrick Madden’s “Divers Weights and Divers Measures,” an essay of observations and musings about encounters with people in Montevideo, bookended by a consideration of the work of the prolific, insightful, and influential Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.
  • Issue Number Volume 7
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual

In this very last print issue of the journal POOL, which will become an online journal only at www.poolpoetry.com, the cover greets with two 1950’s children wearing star shaped sunglasses about to come out of a swimming pool, doused with the varying reflective colors produced by rippled water as a result of the sun. This image is joyous and playful and humorous and although not entirely reflective of every poem comprising this journal, it does represent a large portion of them. Whether the poems here are playing with the toy of language or the sounds it often emits, there is a kind of fun here at work, with an underlying seriousness of purpose or meaning jolting us back into reality.

  • Issue Number Volume 82 Number 4
  • Published Date Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
In these painfully unsettled times, or perhaps I should say even more painfully unsettled than usual, I am grateful for the few things I can rely on. Out my west Bronx window, the sun still rises in the east, as far as I can tell. My boss will say “TGIF” with childish glee every Friday afternoon as if he had just invented the expression. The first sip of hot coffee in the morning will cheer me in a way that is unreasonably optimistic. And Prairie Schooner will satisfy and even comfort me with its steadfastness.
  • Issue Number Issue 13
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The form par excellence for online journals, flash fiction is quickly establishing itself as a form to be reckoned with. Quick Fiction has become the premier venue for flash fiction as well as one of the few outlets that devotes itself entirely to fiction under 500 words. Since the stories are so short, it’s hard to put down – unlike longer journals where one needs to come up for air every once in a while.
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Reed is an annual journal from San Jose State University. This issue contains a few pieces of fiction, a lot of poetry, some art, a couple short essays, and interviews with Dr. Kenneth Coale, George Saunders, Dorothy Allison, and Gary Shapiro.
  • Issue Number Volume 4 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2003
This magazine is short and pleasant, about 150 pages. Within its covers, the reader will find stories, an interview, pictures, and lots of poetry. Many of the stories and poems in this issue seem to center around parent-child relationships. There are several Jewish stories and poems and a Latin American story. Another story focused on a young girl’s reaction to Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, filled with emotion and poignancy.
  • Issue Number Volume 20 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This all fiction issue of SMR is jam-packed with quality prose. From traditional storytelling to more experimental fiction, this issue covers the gamut. I was also pleased to see among the contributors a first time publication for a writer.
  • Issue Number Volume 43 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Could there be a better moment for a re-examination of the very notion of “America?” With a translation from the French of noted French art historian, essayist, and poet Yves Bonnefoy’s story, “America” (translated by Hoyt Rogers), essays on white poverty in the south (Wayne Flight), and on modernism and democratic pluralism, with a focus on John Dewey (Allen Dunn), and fiction that considers American family life (Brigitte McCray), I am tempted to say that the editors of this issue of Southern Humanities Review (SHR) predicted, months ago, our need to explore what is at the essence of American identity during the current time of turmoil and transition.
newpages-footer-logo

We welcome any/all Feedback.