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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted February 28, 2011

  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Alimentum toasts its 5th anniversary with tasty bites from members who regularly sit around its table: Fiction/Nonfiction Editor and Art Director Peter Selgin, Web Editor Eric LeMay, Managing Editor Duane Spencer, Poetry Editor Cortney Davis, Assistant Web Editor Ruth Polleys, Art Director Claudia Carlson, Menupoems Editor Esther Cohen, and Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Paulette Licitra each deliver a morsel. Every course on the menu is nutritious and filling in its own way, but one of my favorites is Selgin’s “The Muffin Man,” a history of and personal treatise about his relationship with that now ubiquitous treat, the muffin. From the “flat, round, spongy, air-filled concoction prepared with yeast-leavened dough and cooked on griddle” (the English muffin) to “granola muffins, cappuccino muffins, strudel muffins, pumpkin, blueberry, applesauce, yogurt, oatmeal, and chocolate chip muffins—muffins whose entire purpose in life seemed to be nothing more or less than denying their muffinhood,” Selgin captures the surprising rise (pun intended) of this American phenomenon.
  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Winter 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue is an eclectic, sometimes compelling online presentation of poetry, fiction and art, which features established authors, and neophytes in a surprising mix. The site is charmingly accessed by "Blue Leaf," cover art by Christopher Woods; a little sip of Lewis Carroll's work greets the reader. Nice touch.
  • Issue Number Volume 13 Number 1
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
As a journal dedicated to literary works focused on “the environment” (here, interpreted as the natural world), Flyway is an unusual publication. The magazine is atypical, as well, for its inclusion of a complete chapbook of poetry (selected through a contest), Lois Marie Harrod’s “Cosmogony.” Selections from contest finalist Corrie Williamson’s chapbook are also published in this volume. An interview with fiction writer Ann Pancake, poetry from four additional poets, five essays, and three short stories round out the issue.
  • Issue Number Volume 20 Number 2
  • Published Date Fall/Winter 2010-11
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Freefall is true to its name, and you never know where you’ll land. John Wall Barger’s prose poem “Scream” begins on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and winds up in India in the early years of the next century:
  • Issue Number Number 97
  • Published Date 2010
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Always a great balance of established and lesser-known poets and fiction writers, this issue’s more recognizable contributors include Philip Dacey, D. Nurkse, Simon Perchik, David Trinidad, and David Wagoner. Their work is strong, as always. Dacey’s offerings are consistent with his by-now-long-and-respected tradition of creating poetry of the biographies of famous artists of many genres—dancers and writers this time in “American Choreography” and “Vaslav Nijinksy on Walt Whitman.”
  • Issue Number Volume 47 Number 5
  • Published Date December 2010
  • Publication Cycle Five Times
The Hollins Critic is one reason why print publications must never be allowed to perish. You simply cannot duplicate, imitate, or recreate this type of pleasure online. Just 24 pages, a sleek, understated experience of intelligent reading. One full-length essay; a few short reviews; a few well-chosen poems. You can read it one sitting, though you may wish to make it last longer. This little publication always reminds me of the adage “less is more.”
  • Issue Number Volume 12 Number 5
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly
Good things do come in small packages. I’d rather read 47 terrific pages (a small journal by most measures) than two or three times that many mediocre ones. This fine, slender issue includes nonfiction from Kevin Kerrane (a favorite of editor Leslie Jill Patterson’s) and Gary Fincke; poetry from Mathew Thorburn (another of Patterson’s favorites, she says), Marie Gauthier, Liz Kay, Fritz Ward, Emily Symonds, Jim Daniels, and Andrew Kozma; and fiction from Amy Knox Brown.
  • Issue Number Volume 33 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2011
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
It may or may not be intentional (though given this journal’s outstanding editorial management, it is likely to be deliberate), but the relationship between this issue’s cover and the poem “Desert” by Adonis, translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa, is nothing short of exquisite. The cover photo is a 1938 “Night View” of New York City by the always-amazing Berenice Abbott. The Adonis poem begins: “The cities dissolve, and the earth is a cart loaded with dust / Only poetry knows how to pair itself to this space.” The poem and photograph are both, as they should be, impossible to describe accurately, except to say that each evokes a particular atmosphere that could not be a better example of the medium’s potential and success. “The city’s voice was too tender,” writes Adonis (such a beautifully translated poem). This is a long poem of shifting tones, expertly rendered, as Abbott’s photo is a composite of so many lights, creating one whole ultra-real vision.
  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer/Autumn 2010
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
What I like most about the Poetry is Dead Magazine Society is how serious they take their role as the poetry imp. You can almost hear the stifled giggles breaking as you begin to catch the joke. “Poets tend to take the art form a touch too seriously,” writes Editor-In-Chief Daniel Zomparelli. “Try it next time you are around a poet… Just say something like, ‘the only true form of poetry is lyrical’ or ‘conceptual poetry is here to kill off the fossil we call lyrical poetry’ or ‘if it’s a project than it is not poetry’ and watch their faces turn red.” Art Director Easton West writes in his letter, quoted here in its entirety: “I gota actually wrtie some shit [sic].”
  • Issue Number Volume 118 Number 4
  • Published Date Fall 2010
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
This issue of The Sewanee Review glorifies the intellectual and emotional benefits of immersing oneself in the cosmopolitan ideal of the Western tradition of knowledge. George Core and the rest of the Sewanee staff offer the reader a slow and relaxing trip around the world, using a Western lens to illuminate people and society from several different cultures. Interestingly, that lens is also used to remind us what the United States was like before blind ethnocentrism was considered a cardinal virtue.
The Straddler takes the cultural temperature of America and reads it back at a pitch and slope that we of the era of entertainment “news” are hard pressed to find in more popular venues. It is not a straightforward look at the nation, though the topics discussed are at first glance fairly frank. This issue is a fragmented offering of subtle depth, taking on the System, the Administrator, the Economy, and looking at them sideways, questioning conventional notions of responsibility and control, beauty and aberration.

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