Literary Magazines
The NewPages
Literary Magazine Reviews

Reviewers (see Contributors page):
- Mark Cunningham; WC - Weston Cutter; DE - Devon Ellington; JG - Jamey Gallagher; JHG - Jeannine Hall Gailey; GK - Gina Kokes; RL - Reb Livingston; DM - Deborah Mead; SRP - Sarah R. Payne; JP - Jessica Powers; SR - Sima Rabinowitz;  ST - Sarah Tarkington;  Contributing Editor: DH - Denise Hill

Posted March 19, 2004

Ink Pot

Number 2

December 2003

Unprepared for the edginess of this journal, I almost stopped reading Ink Pot less than a quarter of the way through. What a mistake that would have been. This is a journal brimming with life, its poems, stories and flash fiction crackling with energy. Ink Pot takes chances—not your standard literary fare. In these pages, we visit some strange worlds: a mall where the security guard acts out his sadism on what he believes are invisible fish; a home laboratory where a man studies a hologram of his daughter’s brain; a puppet show where Punch dispatches Judy and then turns on the audience. Not every piece works in this collection, and some formatting problems can be distracting. But Ink Pot makes up for it with freshness and daring and some tremendous raw talent. Take, for instance, Marc Phillips’ prose in the story “A Fancy and Horrible Thing,” at once funny, vibrant, explosive, lucid: “In that box of roaches with a door that wouldn’t lock and windows that wouldn’t raise, I found a remarkable thing. This thing had apparently nested itself in the trod-down carpet scraps with the mildew and vomit stains, waiting lo these many months for someone to discern its odor among the others and recognize it for what it was. A festering epiphany, so rotten that it had to be on the bottom; it was the seed of philosophy.” Dig a little in this journal and you’ll find lots of gems like this. After finishing Ink Pot, I picked up a more traditional, established literary magazine. Professional, polished, but predictable, it left me missing the surprises of Ink Pot. [Lit Pot Press, Inc., 3909 Reche Rd., Ste. 132, Fallbrook, CA 92028. E-mail: Single issue $10.] - DM

Posted March 18, 2004

Main Street Rag

Volume 8 Number 4

Winter 2004

Don’t let the title fool you—there’s nothing rag-like about this small, beautiful journal. Encompassing two short stories, an illustrated humor piece on a phallic mushroom species, an interview with poet Mark Morris, reviews and poetry, the latest volume of Main Street Rag is as elegant in presentation as it is edgy in content. Mike Watson’s cover art alone is worth the issue price. The two short fiction pieces by Nils Reid and Mary Ann Ruhl Thomas are in keeping with Main Street’s professed bias for grittier material, treating, respectively, a morally lapsed missionary and a girl contemplating killing her father. However, it is the poetry that dominates these pages, with some established voices alongside many newer ones. Aside from a couple of sonnets, the journal favors free verse in a range of styles, from Louis Daniel Brodsky’s highly imagistic “Conception: A Recollection,” to Kevin Sweeney’s facetiously trendy “Hopefully.” There are memorable speakers in these poems. Pamela Garvey’s beggar in “Toward the Face of Absence” challenges us: “Who assumes responsibility? / Who slips pennies into a cup clanging / with emptiness.” But the editors also enjoy a laugh and on the facing page give us Nathan Graziano’s English teacher, desperate to interest a terminally bored class: “Extended metaphors / sweat in the sheets, / Payment for sticking around / for the entire poem.” Graziano closes his poem with an unforgettable deadpan that I won’t give away here. Intellectually stimulating, accessible, enjoyable—Main Street Rag is everything you could want from a literary magazine. [Main Street Rag, Main Street Rag, 4416 Shea Lane, Charlotte, NC, 28227. E-mail: Single issue $7.]- DM

African American Review

Amiri Baraka Issue

Volume 37, Numbers 2-3

Summer/Fall 2003

I remember reading about the controversy over Amiri Baraka’s poem, “Somebody Blew Up America,” written and performed after 9-11 and after Baraka’s appointment as poet laureate of New Jersey. One line in the poem— “Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers / to stay home that day”—was condemned as anti-Semitic and led, ultimately, to Baraka’s sacking as poet laureate. In this issue, African American Review explores not only that incident (and whether it is legitimate to condemn Baraka as anti-Semitic), but they publish several controversial Baraka poems, an interview with Baraka, and essays covering the range of Baraka’s career as a poet and radical. Among the most notable poems, “Somebody Blew Up America” and “The McVouty Bible,” both showcasing Baraka’s anger and politics. My favorite essay was “Sometimes Funny, But Most Times Deadly Serious: Amiri Baraka as Political Satirist” by Jiton Sharmayne Davidson, which explores the history of Baraka’s satire, from his earliest, humorous attempts to his latest jabs at former New York Mayor Giuliani. [African American Review, Saint Louis University, Shannon Hall 119, 220 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103-2007. E-mail: Single issue $12.] - JP

Blue Mesa Review

Number 15


I expected something devoted a bit more to Southwestern literature, since Blue Mesa Review is published at the University of New Mexico, but this appeared to be a standard literary magazine without regional focus. This issue is jam packed with great essays, stories, and poems, including “Weathering the Freeze” by Bonnie Jo Campbell, a visceral description of sub-zero weather on a farm in Michigan; “Black Box,” by Katherin Nolte, a short story about a woman having an affair with a man whose wife becomes a zombie, quite possibly because the philandering woman’s husband knows voo-doo and has discovered his wife’s affair; and a long section featuring Gene Frumkin’s poetry, whose work “succeeds above ground and deep in the mine shaft.” Because I love non-fiction rooted in a sense of place, my favorite piece in this issue is an essay by Jennifer Brice, entitled “Wild Music: Reflections on Big Oil and Innocence.” In it, Brice explores the Alaskan past and present, explaining that yes, the “pipeline” and “oil” changed Alaska in myriad ways, but the core part of Alaska that “seems unwilling to compete with or improve upon nature” has remained the same. [Blue Mesa Review, University of New Mexico, Dept. of English/Hum 217, Albuquerque, NM 87131. E-mail: Single issue $12.] - JP

Storie – All Write



I read this literary magazine from cover to cover. (Well, OK, this is a bilingual publication. I did NOT read the Italian translations of stories, just the English.) Every story in it was fabulous, every interview with the author of the published stories interesting. From Joyce Carol Oates’s exploration of a young girl’s disappearance in a New Jersey town to Massimo Lolli’s description of a dance hall where strangers meet for a few minutes for sex and intimacy, the four stories collected in this volume were stunning. However, my favorite part of Storie is the section near the end where they include a short paragraph critiquing the stories that they rejected for this issue. Witty, kind, but also critical, these paragraphs seem a unique service to the writer: a mention of the story and its merits but also its shortcomings. [Storie,Via Suor Celestina Donati 13/E, 00167 Rome, ITALY. E-mail: Single issue $10.] - JP

The Literary Review

Volume 47, Number 2

Winter 2004

The Literary Review had a strange, other-worldly feel to it, the stories and poems a mixture of reality and surrealism. It’s some of the best damn writing I’ve read in awhile. I’ve rarely encountered a story as disturbing as “The Child,” by Edgar Brau, which depicts five women who are jailed shortly after giving birth to children. They must hide themselves behind hoods when their jailers approach; the punishment for failing to do so is death. Each woman, one by one, is taken away, presumably for execution, but not before the jailers send the women dolls as “replacements” for the babies that were taken from them. No explanation is given as to context for this story, or why these women and not others, or anything else; the women themselves have no understanding. This off-world is reality, and you must accept it on its own terms. Other noteworthy stories and poems include “The Widow in Her Weeds,” by W.J. Thornton; “Walker Percy in the Desert,” by William Miller; and “Polar Animal” by James Grinwis. [The Literary Review, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940. E-mail:] - JP


Red Rock Review

Issue 14

Summer 2003

To those of us who grew up with Midwestern mothers, Red Rock Review is a meat-and-potatoes kind of fare—not gourmet, not “the latest and most stylish,” but comfort food, pure and simple. I enjoyed poems with lines like “When Grampa made her angry she would tell him / ‘Go soak your head in the water’” (“Bright Wine” by Shonna Bilyeu), or “You were the first” by Anesa Miller, simple but devastating in its conclusion, in its forgiveness for a fallen father. I loved stories like “The Blue Monkey,” by Cary Holladay, in which a mother tries to come to terms with the death of her only child, whose husband is falling in love with her daughter’s deaf lover. “Lunch with Moskowitz” by Andrew Kiraly is a witty look at a hypocritical, self-righteous New Age specialist, dealing with his dislike of a boorish man who points out all the incongruities and absurdities of his favorite spiritualisms. Red Rock Review may not be experimental but because of that, it avoids being “faddish” and is, instead, an example of strong, lasting literature. [Red Rock Review, English Dept. J2A, Community College of Southern Nevada, 3200 East Cheyenne Avenue, North Las Vegas, Nevada, 89030. E-mail: Single issue $5.50.] - JP

NewPages Literary Magazine Stand Archives

February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003

Cumulative Index of Lit Mags Reviewed

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