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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted July 15, 2014

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  • Issue Number Volume 17 Issue 57
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

Though this issue of American Short Fiction isn’t overtly themed, Editors Rebecca Markovits and Adeena Reitberger note that they had already selected the stories when they realized “four of the five were about work, the daily grind or the vocation, the answer to what William Carlos Williams called ‘the typical American question’: What do you do?” This does indeed serve as a nice framework for the five pieces of short fiction that make up the issue, work by Tia Clark, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Antonya Nelson, Matthew Neill Null, and Rob Roensch.

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  • Issue Number Issue 16
  • Published Date Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual online

Avatar Review, an online annual, “seeks to display the highest quality of writing,” as all do. And while I cannot claim that what is published in this issue is the cream of the crop, there is plenty worth consideration and worthy of merit, including poetry, prose, art, and reviews. Britt Melewski’s “On the Overnight” came with an audio recording of him reading his poem, which enhanced the feeling of the overall poem, especially his last few lines: “saying, ‘remember the absolute worst of times, / remember the fish, the fish, the fish.’”

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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date April 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

An understated sophistication distinguishes The Common. At only its seventh issue, it has the tone of one who is confident of its place in the world. Many times, I paused in my reading to savor the ingenuity of a conceit or turn of phrase, but I never felt as if anyone represented in this issue was trying too hard to impress. They don’t have to: firmly in control of their craft, they steer the reader to exactly where they want her to go.

One cannot help but be carried along in the surprising and delightful rhythms of the “speechifying” of the non-native English speaker, or perhaps a native speaker of a variety of South Asian English—certainly as much a standard as any in this age where English is the world’s dominant lingua franca—in Manohar Shetty’s poem “Toast.

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  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online

Published at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Devil’s Lake offers a sampling of poetry, fiction, and visual art twice a year.

I spent a great deal of time on Matt Morton’s “Spring Bulletin,” and although I don’t think I’ve unlocked all the keys to the poem, I lingered on each moment, trying to take it all in. Written in the second-person point of view, it causes me to be hesitant moving through the poem as I read the lines, “Something / vaguely unsettling about the quality of air. / Something about the humidity that left us / glancing over our shoulders when we mowed the lawn.”

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  • Issue Number Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date Winter 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

Frogpond is the subscription/membership publication of the Haiku Society of America, and for anybody the least bit into haiku or who would like to learn about haiku and the many forms of traditional Japanese poetry and modernized versions of it, this is one of THE publications to be reading.

Frogpond regularly publishes haiku, senryu, haibun, rengay (and other short sequential forms), renku (and other long sequence forms), essays, and book reviews. Each issues begins with a full page devoted to the winner of the Museum of Haiku Literature Award (currently $100) for the best previously unpublished work appearing in the last issue of Frogpond.

  • Subtitle A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts
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  • Issue Number Volume 26 Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer/Fall 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

The University of Houston’s Department of English publishes Gulf Coast, a literary journal started by Donald Barthelme and Philip Lopate in 1982, under the Texas-worthy name Domestic Crude. The current name was adopted in 1986; in 2013 the magazine merged with the Texas art journal Art Lies and began to publish writings about art in each issue, as well as the visual art which has always appeared. The list of distinguished contributors to this issue originates far beyond Houston and Texas, although local authors turn up as well.

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  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 3
  • Published Date April 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly

This issue had a lot going on in it, and I am quite frankly left feeling run through the ringer. A full-length chapbook by Colin Winnette, titled “Follow Through,” was stuck right in the middle of this issue! It was intriguing work comprised of short, paragraph style prose poetry, but it completely distracted me from trying to understand the issue as its own piece of work. (I found out, after researching the press, this chapbook placement is a common practice with Heavy Feather Review.)

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  • Issue Number Volume 44 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Triannual

Iowa is often considered a fabled place in the world of American letters, and The Iowa Review lives up to the expectations that such a powerful name bestows. The journal has been publishing some of the country’s finest authors since 1970, and in 2014 it’s still incredibly strong.

This issue, the first with Editor Harilaos Stecopoulos at the helm, includes poetry, fiction, essays, and artwork, all consistent with the journal’s previous issues. The issue also includes two interviews and two reviews, both new features, as well as a pairing of three Amber Tamblyn poems with images by, among others, filmmaker and painter David Lynch.

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  • Issue Number Number 16
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual

The Labletter “has its roots in the Oregon Lab, the name given to a group of artists and their annual gathering.” The magazine began as a way for these artists to stay in contact and share work, and in 2008 it went public—a move fortunate for audiences who care about sophistication, quality, and commitment to art.

In this issue, you’ll find generously-reproduced art, from the front cover inward; exquisite short stories; three beautifully-crafted essays, on collage, theater, and clogging; and fifteen strong poems by four inspired poets.

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  • Issue Number Volume 109 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

This was the first issue of Poet Lore I have ever read, and it will not be the last! Well over 100 pages of outstanding poems, poetic history, interviews, and reviews made this more than just another issue to review; they turned it into an outright gripping read. While most of the works were brief (under one printed page), large-scale themes of loss and death are woven throughout. The editors did an outstanding job of finding beautiful poems that also highlighted positive moments in life through the pain. I am not lying when I tell you how a couple of pieces nearly brought tears to my eyes.

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  • Issue Number Issue 2
  • Published Date Summer 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online

Pretty Owl Poetry is a brand new online quarterly that publishes poetry and, in opposition to the title of the journal, flash fiction. The poetry is very accessible, not overly complicated or using fancy language.

Take, for example, Clare Welsh’s “Almost Exorcism,” a poem broken into three pieces about children’s reaction to a lump “on the ribs of a dog.” The first part have the children imagining it as a second heart...

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  • Issue Number Volume 15 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring 2014
  • Publication Cycle Biannual

The editors of River Teeth are candid about their selection process. About half of what they publish comes from unsolicited submissions. The rest may come from authors whose work they’ve heard at conferences, online or regional publications, commissioned work, or from friends, acquaintances, and the editors themselves. “We know all this sounds more than a little intuitive,” writes the editor, “even presumptuous, and quite a bit less than arm’s length. That’s the nature of love, we guess.”
In this issue, animals, parenting, and the nature of memory are the doors authors use into insights about life.

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  • Issue Number Volume 7 Issue 7
  • Published Date 2014
  • Publication Cycle Annual online

This issue of Southern Women’s Review has a “Bust” theme and is full and broad in exciting and enriching literature including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. As I was traveling at the time of reading this issue, I took special note of Kerry Madden-Lunsford’s piece in which the narrator is in China teaching English but is feeling isolated and very much an outsider. Although she wants to learn her own way into the culture, she can’t seem to and retreats back to English literature to find her own comfort.

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  • Published Date July 2014
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online

The stories in Under the Gum Tree feel very authentic; it is easy to identify with the characters and narrators. In Chelsea Schott’s “The Frederick Boy,” I was transported back to being a teenage girl, that feeling that your crush is the whole world, the terror of a disapproving parent, going over the day’s events again and again in your mind. It begins: "I try not to think of that day last summer on the back of John’s motorcycle—knowing if I think about it too much, if I let myself wander back into that day, I will dissolve into the desire I can’t resist—of retracing every step I took, walking over the same paths..."

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