The latest issue of The Iowa Review is out. In this issue: toes, 362.28 in the card catalog, a portfolio of fantastical and surreal writing and artwork, a tenure review gone awry, and the winners of the 2019 Iowa Review Awards. Contributors include Julie Gray, Derby Maxwell, Elizabeth Dodd, Andes Hruby, and Laura Crossett in nonfiction; Joyelle McSweeney, Brian Sneeden, Philip Metres, Maggie Millner, and Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer in poetry; and Chloe Wilson, Sherry Kramer, Terrence Holt, Analia Villagra, and Bruce Holbert in fiction.
Issue 10 of Gris-Gris features fiction by Peter Grandbois, James Hartman, Marlene Olin, and Betty Martin; poetry by Stephanie Brooks, Jonathan Riccio, Sarah Sousa, Hannah Warren, Maria Zoccola, and Daphne Simeon; nonfiction by Robert Vivian; and artwork by Desire’ Johnson.
The Autumn 2019 issue of The Gettysburg Review features a selection of paintings by Anne Siems; fiction by Cody Harrison, Gary Amdahl, and Kathryn Harlan; essays by Valerie Sayers, Geoff Wyss, and Floyd Collins; poetry by Gregory Fraser, Robert Gibb, Adam Tavel, G. C. Waldrep, Connor Yeck, Kathryn Nuernberger, Alison Pelegrin, Todd Davis, Alice Friman, Nancy Carol Moody, Edward Mayes, Averill Curdy, Joyce Sutphen, Sarah Kain Gutowski, and Stanley Plumly.
In the latest issue of Chinese Literature Today, find a special feature on Twenty-First Century Chinese Theater with work by Liu Hongtao, Zhang Xian, Li Jing (including an interview with Li Jing by Liu Hongtao), Zhai Yueqin, Ding Luonan, Chen Jide, and Song Baozhen. Also in this tenth anniversary issue: a tribute to Jin Yong with work by Liu Hongtao, Paul B. Foster, and Weijie Song; work by Xiao Fuxing; and featured scholar Charles A. Laughlin.
Ellen Hinsey and Jakob Ziguras were invited to assist the New England Review in compiling a collection of poems written by previously untranslated Polish authors in a special issue titled “Polish Poetry in Translation: Bridging the Frontiers of Language” (Volume 40 Number 2, 2019). No doubt, Ellen Hinsey, who had previously used love as her guide to identify works to include in her book Scattering the Dark: An Anthology of Polish Women Poets, was chosen for her care and attention.
The introduction to Hinsey’s anthology is referenced in an editor’s note in this issue and highlights difficulties that translation presents. Hinsey describes how even best efforts are often unable to fully create expressions and understandings in English that exist uniquely in Polish (and other languages) while also preserving beauty in the verses. (more…)
Walloon Writers Review edition 6 is a collection of poetry, short stories and nature photography inspired by Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. This independent regionally focused literary magazine is published annually. “Edition 6” edited by Associate Editor Glen Young, is so titled as this is our first digital edition. Walloon Writers Review edition 6 is available on issuu and the link can be found on our website. No charge for the digital edition this year. Cover photography by Elizabeth J. Bates.
Mary Birnbaum’s nonfiction piece “Owosso” caught my eye in the latest issue of Crazyhorse, not only because it’s the winner of the Crazyhorse Nonfiction Prize, but because it’s a familiar name (though a surprise to see in a national literary journal); the tiny town in Michigan is a mere hour away from where I’ve lived my whole life. It’s also where Birnbaum’s grandfather lived, she learns as she reads his obituary at the gym. This discovery leads her on an exploration of the concept of ghosts and hauntings.
Across the country, Birnbaum writes of the ghostly characters of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and personal ghost stories shared by two friends. This leads her to look at the ghosts of her own life. These are not supernatural beings haunting the darkness, but are her father and her grandfather, two strangers removed from her life.
Birnbaum’s thoughts about her father and grandfather are complex and complicated. She breaks her ideas apart into small chunks, making them easily digestible as she bounces back and forth between ghost stories, the “what-ifs” of finding and confronting her father, and her discovery at the gym. At one point she wonders, “if it’s worse to be a ghost or to be haunted. I wonder if both are possible in me,” leading me to consider the ways in which I myself am a ghost or am being haunted in my own life.
As the essay wraps up, Birnbaum decides to label Owosso a mythical location. But while the small city is something separated from herself, it did conjure up from the shadows a tiny, welcomed connection between writer and this reader.
Alyssa Quinn’s “Transcendence: A Schematic”—Meridian Editors’ Prize 2019 winner—explores her efforts to process the loss of her brother. Weaving together a pilgrimage to Walden Pond, her memories of her brother, and her own beliefs and doubts, Quinn probes the hollowed out spaces, searching for a truth she can hold in the absence of her brother.
The exploration of emptiness leads Quinn to consider the places others turn to for truth. She explores science, religion, and maps, searching for a space where she can find her brother. Even in form, Quinn demonstrates absence as she creates a schematic, seeking answers from figures that do not exist. As Quinn tries to present an answer to her questions about death, transcendence, and reality she can only state with absolute uncertainty, “Perhaps the center is just as elusive as the beyond; matter as problematic as spirit.” In death, Quinn’s brother has shattered Quinn’s understanding of reality.
While the essay pulses with the agony of living in an emptied reality, Quinn recognizes that even her writing has been reformed by the loss of her brother. Quinn must confront the fact that “Syntax cannot convey true absence—say ‘I miss him’ and there he is again—there is no language for loss, for such awful missing.” Her work plunges into the loss of her brother, and emerges with the knowledge that Quinn must create a space to hold her brother within her own words.
About the reviewer: Shaun Anderson is a creative writing student at Utah State University.
Magazine Review by Katy Haas
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, I spoke 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.