The Fall 2019 issue of the Missouri Review invites readers to wander away from the ordinary into a world that’s a little bit “off” in its feature. In “Dream Logic: The Art of Ten Contemporary Surrealists,”Kristine Somerville offers a brief history of the surrealist art movement.
While we learn the history, we also see full-color images of surreal artwork, including embroidered mixed media images by Robin McCarthy, clay sculptures by Ronit Baranga, collages by Rodriguez Calero, and more. Indeed, these all carry dreamlike qualities as they challenge our expectations. Each piece grabs the eye and forces it to take in new, creative perspectives. Baranga’s work features grotesque human features emerging from delicate teacups. Gensis Belanger’s work seems to showcase the ordinary until you blink and realize a stool is supported by four large cigarettes instead of regular legs, and the foot inside the sandal that rests on the stool is actually a hot dog. Whimsy and dream logic reign in this feature. The provided history grounds us, though, giving a clear lens through which we can examine the art.
Somerville closes with the reminder, “surrealism provides an outlet for creativity and spontaneity and an escape from the tyranny of the real.” Allow yourself to escape for a moment and wander into the dreams of the surreal artists found in the Fall 2019 issue.
I don’t know how much these distinctions exist for me. Certainly I think the conversation of art doesn’t care about them very much. I’ve always been turned off by a kind of assertive Americanism, and the American writers I love best, from Hawthorne and James and Baldwin to Alexander Chee and Yiyun Li, have all been cosmopolitan in their tastes and views. Of course, America is important to my writing—the landscape of the American South, the rhythms of American speech, the expansive, sometimes-redemptive, sometimes-toxic sense of American selfhood.
What it means to be American is one of the subjects of my books, as it is of any book about Americans abroad. Bulgaria is important to the books, too. I was speaking Bulgarian every day as I wrote What Belongs to You. Often enough, Ispoke only Bulgarian. The rhythms of Bulgarian—the most beautiful, the most musical language in the world, so far as I’m concerned—are part of those sentences, as is the cityscape of Mladost, the quarter of Sofia where I lived, which I also think is very beautiful, though maybe with a difficult kind of beauty.
“The Devotions” issue features fiction by Sabirah Orah Mark, JoAnna Novak, Pablo Piñero Stillmann, Su-Yee Lin, Roger Topp, and more; nonfiction by Jenny Boully, Spencer Reece, Joan Connor, Tyler Mills, D. Gilson, and others; film by Will Stockton; art by Jochern Hendricks; Sabrina Orah Mark in conversation with Vi Khi Nao; and poetry by Peter Cooley, Endi Bogue Hartigan, Matthew Henriksen, Dujie That, Steffi Drewes, G.C. Waldrep, Antonia Pozzi, Owen McLeod, Bronwen Tate, Cary Stough, Sarah Destin, Alisha Dietzman, Christian Wessels, and more.
The Antioch Review Summer 2019 issue opens with postmodernist African-American painter and printmaker Emma Amos’ 1957 Antioch College senior paper about her education as an artist whose works are currently scheduled to go to the Smithsonian. Investigative reporter Jay Tuck’s “Mankind’s Greatest Challenge: Artificial Intelligence” is a well-founded call for caution in what has become the wild west of virtual reality. Mika Seifert’s “Old Timers” will send chills up your spine and “Coming in on Time” by Stuart Neville will have you reaching for tissues. Our poetry selection rounds out this issue that once again delivers the best words in the best order.
The Fall 2019 issue of Weber includes two poems by Bill Snyder: “Redundancy” and “Home.”
Snyder travels through time in these poems. In “Home,” he brings us to 1972 as he hitchhikes to his father’s house in Florida to surprise him with his arrival, and in “Redundancy,” he brings us to 1995 while he plays Scrabble with his mother.
Snyder writes with clarity, each poem rich with description that never bogs the message down. Each feels like a tiny short story, grabbing readers and pulling them into the scene. We are sitting at the table with his mother, “sunlight seeping in.” We are standing on the side of the road waiting in the humid air for a car to stop, “the sun behind a Burger King, Kentucky Fried, / all the rest.”
These poems are a pleasure to read, an intimate gaze at the familial bonds of Snyder’s speaker.
Each issue of Ruminate opens with “Readers’ Notes,” a response from a variety of readers/writers on the issue’s theme. This is one of my favorite parts of the issue—the little snippets of connection. The Winter 2019/20 theme is “Shelter,” and thirteen readers write in with their thoughts on the subject.
It’s interesting to see the variety of approaches writers take as they cover this topic. A few speak of physical structures that offer shelter. Benjamin Malay writes of an abandoned farmhouse found while hitchhiking; Duane L. Herrmann’s shelter is a screened-in porch during childhood; and Sharon Esterly writes of a DIY Cold War bomb shelter. Moving away from man-made structures, Rebecca Martin observes a child’s own body being their shelter; Liz Degregorio’s shelter is “the kindest lie” her father could tell her as a child; and Sarah Swandell’s shelter is a womb.
Each of these pieces is short and succinct. All grab attention and hold fast as readers unfold the layers that reveal the shelter within. The Readers’ Notes section serves as a great opener for Ruminate, both as a warm-up for the rest of the issue, and as a way to jog one’s own creativity, prompting consideration on how we too might briefly write on the given topic.
december‘s Fall/Winter 2019 issue features the winners and honorable mentions of the 2019 Curt Johnson Prose Award in Fiction and Nonfiction.
This year’s Award in Fiction was judged by Rita Mae Brown, and the Award in Nonfiction was judged by Amy Chua. Contest Editor Lauren Lederman introduces the winners, and readers can find a full list of finalists inside the issue.
2019 Curt Johnson Prose Award in Fiction First Place
“The Land Behind the Fog” by Andrea Eberly Honorable Mention
“The Augmentation Dilemma” by TN Eyer
2019 Curt Johnson Prose Award in Nonfiction First Place
“Gumdrop Electric” by Sarah Treschl Honorable Mention
“The One Who Didn’t Stay” by Samantha Rogers
Valley Voices brings readers a special edition on ekphrastic poetry with the Fall 2019 issue. Fifty-seven poems by forty-two poets follow the theme, and John J. Han pens the essay: “A Verbal Response to Visual Art: The popularity, Types, and Composition of Ekphrastic Poetry.”
Opening the issue is a sort of call and response between husband and wife duo Leo Touchet and Elizabeth Burk in “Louisiana: A Duet of Photographs and Poems.” Touchet’s photographs serve as inspiration for Burk’s poetry. After the selection, the two speak with Editor John Zheng about their work, both as individuals and as a creative pair.
Zheng introduces the issue with, “[ . . . ] ekphrastic expressions are not simple interpretations; they are, instead, reinterpretations that experiment with imagination, language, and synesthesia in the creative process of writing poetry.” Check out the creative experimentations in the Fall 2019 issue and let it inspire you to experiment with your own ekphrastic work.
Plume has hit quite a milestone this month. Their December 2019 issue is their 100th publication. As usual, they bring readers a fine selection of poems (some with audio recordings), a smattering of book reviews, and one essay. However, they stray from their usual format with their featured selection. While readers will normally find one poet interviewed with a selection of their poetry in this section, this month the staff has chosen to feature favorites selected from the past 100 issues.
These selections include: Rasha Abdulhadi (Issue 88), Angie Estes (Issue 46), Stephen Dobyns (Plume Anthology Number 7), Amy Beeder (Issue 67), Tom Sleigh (Issue 17), Justyna Bargielska translated from Polish by Benjamin Paloff (Issue 77), and Stephen Dunn (Issue 2).
If readers are feeling especially ambitious, they can find their own favorite poem among the full archive of all these past issues.