The Best of the Literary Journals, May 2016

I’m having a quiet month as regards travel, writing deadlines and teaching, so I’ve managed to catch up on my reading of fave literary journals. Some stuff I liked:

There’s some great work in the Spring edition of Santa Monica Review. I loved Diane Lefer’s story ‘What Else Have you Done?’, set in a prison with a multicultural cast of visitors on the brink of chaos. And there’s a little gem of a story called ‘Two Bones’ by Elizabeth Wyatt.

Twisted Vine: Cosmo Planetary Morphogenesis By Anthony Alvarez
Twisted Vine: Cosmo Planetary Morphogenesis
By Anthony Alvarez

Twisted Vine has some top notch work in its latest edition. I enjoyed George Perreault’s ‘Rebecca Morgan: Raising the Hammer,’ a short tragi-comedy about soldiers returning to small-town communities. I also liked Sarah Brown Weitzman’s poem ‘The Hollow of the Great Wave off Kanagawa.’ It’s rare to see concrete poems nowadays, and the taut, coiled language of the poem suited this form.

Issue 19 of Pen America has some excellent fiction and non-fiction. The interview with Edward Snowden is an eye-opener, and there are lovely pieces on the theme of regret by Amitava Kumar, Elena Poniatowska, and Joyce Carol Oates, among others.


Splitlipmagazine has an issue about memoir. By far my favorite of the pieces collected here is ‘Stomach,’ a short meditation on cannibalism and a lizard called Ike, by Gabrielle Montesanti.

The ever reliable Poetry focuses on Australian poets in its May edition. I confess to almost total ignorance of the Australian poetry scene, so I was delighted to read the work, in particular, of Ali Cobby Eckermann, Jaya Savige, and Sarah Holland-Batt. Cobby Eckermann’s poem ‘Black Deaths in Custody’ rang various bells for me. The full-page color photos of the poets was a new and pleasant departure.

A capella Zoo: Fall 2015
A capella Zoo: Fall 2015

I’m only just getting around to reading A capella Zoo‘s Fall 2015 issue, which focuses on gay, lesbian and trans fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed Jeffrey David Greene’s ‘Vishnu Coming Through,’ a tale about a gay, blue, four-armed god who emerges from a fax machine during the narrator’s night shift. Yes, it really is that bizarre.

Rattle‘s Issue 51 is a tribute to Feminist Poets and well worth checking out if, like me, you’re that way inclined. A little treat: many of the poems here are read aloud by their authors. I liked Lisa Baird’s ‘Vagus Nerve’ and Leila Chatti’s ‘Morning,’ two poems about the body, but as different as poems can be.

For those who like their fiction in bite-sized chunks, have a look at the ever-elegant, ever-sparse Wigleaf, and check out Naomi Washer’s unflashy flash fiction.


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