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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted August 30, 2010

  • Issue Number Number 56
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Gargoyle came into being in 1976. It was started to put light on “unknown poets and writers, and the overlooked.” It bravely began as a monthly, with not much more than a handful of poems, short stories and nonfiction and “graphics”; but it began with quality. For example, its first issue boasted a poem from the then-unknown budding young poet named Jim Daniels. It slowly grew larger over time until it became the huge beast of a literary magazine it is today. It has continued to have quality poets and writers.
  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Again, there are no editorial musings, just a hipper than anything dive into the fray. One of the first is a great poem by Jared Stanley, called “Legitimate Dangers”:

A _____ stirs the thicket.
I am cherry alive, the little girl sang.
Fleas alight from this line.
Now it’s all our celebration, right?
I’ve got to interrupt you for a second;
this is my index finger talking.
Himilce Novas’s “Painting Life Over” is a sad story, filled with memories of a youth spent amongst parents who fought constantly, and the narrator who wishes to start life over: “Me? In my mind, I’m not in the picture at all. I’m just looking at it, a little shaky, praying that the fighting will stop and that Mr. and Mrs. Pepino, the elderly couple who live right next door, also in the fifth-floor walk-up, are really as deaf as they pretend to be.”
  • Issue Number Volume 23 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue opens with terrific translations of the work of Syrian poet Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said Esber) from Khaled Mattawa, from the book Al-Mutabaqat wal-al-Awa’il (Similarities and Beginnings), published in 1980. These poems are, according to an introductory essay by Mattawa, a departure from the poet’s earlier interest in longer forms, and they demonstrate his skill with the short lyric. They are tightly, and expertly, constructed, with lush imagery, despite their taut shape. Here is “The Beginning of Death” in its entirety:
  • Issue Number Number 3
  • Published Date 2010
In this issue of Kitty Snacks, the introduction belongs to Deb Olin Unferth. Her “Limited Observations” is not so much a story in its traditional form, but an amusing list of things the ubiquitous ‘she’ has observed. This style lends itself well to the itemized life that ‘she’ lives. For example, two delightful items in this list are “Committees” and “Deletion.” For the first, Unferth writes,
  • Issue Number Issue 28
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Annual
You, the reader, may notice that this review seems to be split in half. How odd, you may think. Actually, I’ve combined the two because they are combined within the same two covers. You can tell, though, when the magazine switches from The Pacific Review to Ghost Town, as the pages abruptly turn upside down at the intersection. Now, to the first…
  • Issue Number Volume 84 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
I am interested in almost any writing about work (as in the exchange of time spent in goal-oriented activity for wages) and also in the work of crafting long poems, so I was drawn immediately to “After Work,” a poem in 20 brief sections by Martha Collins:
  • Issue Number Volume 44 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
My recent reading just happens to have included a great deal of poetry by women whose work in the first half of the last century is now largely forgotten or ignored, so I was surprised, pleased, and curious to discover Mina Loy’s name in a poem by Priscilla Atkins in this issue’s TOC. I had to start there, though I was tempted to begin with a poem by Michael Andrews, “Lykambes Has Promised Neobulé,” because it has the most unusual title in the issue; or Terry W. Thompson’s “Spencer Rex: The Oedipus Myth in Henry James’s ‘The Jolly Corner,’” because I am fond of academic essays, and as editor Chantel Acevedo notes in her Comment, few journals publish them.
  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter/Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This 35th anniversary issue is editor Bruce Guernsey’s last after four years. He will be succeeded by Kristin Hotelling Zona, associate professor of English at Illinois State, where the journal is published. This issue’s Illinois Poet (an interview and a dozen poems) introduces the work of Cathy Bobb; the Poets on Teaching column presents Wesley McNair’s exercises for introducing students to free verse; translations include work from Brazil, Spain; and poems by 20 poets.
  • Issue Number Number 16
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of Thin Air opens with a hilarious poem about fire, which, by rights, shouldn’t be funny at all. But Matthew J Spireng’s poem “In Case of Fire” will have you smiling by its end. Spireng writes,
  • Issue Number Volume 98 Number 3
  • Published Date July 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
A very Yale-Review-like issue of the Yale Review, which is to say that this is a journal for the serious-minded reader who appreciates scholarly essays of thoughtful analysis alongside her poetry, fiction, and personal essays. And if you’re looking for writers with an established track record and name recognition, Yale Review is always a good choice (Louis Auchincloss on Henry James; Arthur Kirsch on Auden; poems by Charles Wright, Carl Phillips, Daryl Hine, David Wagoner, Cynthia Zarin; fiction by Alice Hoffman…Alice Hoffman! [that was actually something of a surprise]), this is the journal for you.

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