i keep hearing that nobody buys literary journals. guess what? i do and many of my friends also buy them. we also lend the ones we don’t have to one another. so here’s my list of great magazine issues in 2010.
Brick 86-winter 2011. the poetry is a tad conservative but the essays are fabulous. Brick has a kind of old world charm to it in its focus on famous dead people and bygone eras. sometimes you want that. in this issue i learned about the BBC broadcast of a nightgale’s duet with cellist Beatrice Harrison and the unexpected accompaniment of war planes. Another great article by Charles Foran talked about his biography of Mordecai Richeler. And there was a lot of French content, perhaps to go with the theme of Brick’s recent fundraiser, Kiki’s Paris: a fascinating excerpt from Adrienne Monnier’s writings in which she talks about her lunch with Colette and the preceding article about her and her French bookstore equivalent to Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company in Paris. Brick allows me to read widely and reading widely is a necessary benefit to writing for me.
The Capilano Review 3.12 Fall, 2010
This is probably my favourite literary journal. Like Brick it is eclectic with photographs, interviews, prose and poetry. This issue’s highlights for me were the artwork of Susan Bee, a fascinating interview with her and Charles Bernstein, Bernstein’s works and Meredith Quartermain’s wonderful excerpts from Recipes for a Red Planet. And then there’s Nicole Brossard in French and in English. Her titles alone are worth the price of admission: L’usage des vertiges minuscules / the Use of Tiny Vertigos. i discovered a writer i didn’t know: Heather Campbell whose tight and imaginative prose poems are exactly what i’m in the mood for these days, as i attempt to write prose poetry myself. i could rattle on more about this issue and about TCR in general. it’s excellent. buy it. subscribe.
Poetry Is Dead Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2: TV, Beer and Video Games
to be honest, this mag’s is kinda hipster for the likes of me; reminds me a bit of Matrix Magazine, which is way too hipster for me. PIDM's got a slim and contemporary look and futuristic red and blue dots and squares and tiny fonts that are great for young people with good eyesight but bad for middle aged geeks who didn’t eat enough carrots when they were 12. right away though, the editor, Daniel Zomparelli gets me by complaining about how the general public thinks Canadian poetry is consumed with nature. i like that. i like a good rant. and i’m bored with odes to trees and god and cormorants etc. and he talks about how easy it is to push the buttons of poets by making generalizations. i like doing that too. i like watching faces turn red. so he has me and i’m interested, even if i don’t give a rat’s ass about tv, video games and beer.
so what about the content: we have Kenny Goldsmith’s well-published thoughts on conceptual writing. good to have these in print, maybe i’ll actually be able to get through the article now. uh, no…still not. i am interested in conceptual writing, heck it’s all i do. what i’m looking forward to is the anthology that is coming out thru Les Figues (although i wish it wasn't women's only, you know how i feel about gender exclusions in publishing, i loathe that).
then there’s this interview with a bunch of writers i’ve heard of and like: Donato Mancini, Billeh Nickerson, Rob Budde, Heather Haley…but it’s all about tv, beer and video games and it’s glib, kinda clever. not my thing. so i’m starting to lose interest in the magazine… (oh i was glad to see work by Catherine Owen too, a reprint from Frenzy, which i enjoyed vastly) but in general i don’t care about Fonzie or Pamela Anderson and Doctor Phil and all that stuff. just makes my eyes glaze over. but then i get in to the poetry and i’m enjoying the humour of it: Ozymoondias by Michael Cook is an entertaining sonnet. here’s Shelley fucked up. this is kinda like flipping the bird to all those people who keep saying in order to be experimental you have to build on tradition. i prefer writing that breaks tradition. and whose tradition are we talking about anyway? so this one amuses me. David Brock surprises me with some fine lyric work amidst the Freud and pop with Super-ego Mario, Josh Neely’s poems, especially Evening Chores after Al Purdy, serious or parody, it’s all good. and then there are the crazy double vision poems called Hangover by Leah Rae. this stuff is inventive and i think that’s why i’m going to buy another issue. actually i’m going to borrow the first issue from a pal and let her take this one off my hands for a while. but i’ll want it back.
Rampike, Vol 19 No 1: Visual Poetics
i’ve blogged about this one previously. there’s work in here i would have never seen before by some i’ve heard of and some i haven’t. and hey, if you’re like me and you need big fonts, Rampike is the way to go.
The New Quarterly No. 114 The Lists Issue
this is somewhere on my shelves but i can’t find it right now, so i can’t go into detail, but i loved the idea of a list issue and was especially taken with Diane Schoemperlen's collage lists. i like how they broke down the lists into various themes too, but might have liked them to be a bit more inventive in their themes: sandwich toppings i have loved; the 10 best coffee mugs for bus riding… i’m not big on TNQ, another fairly conservative magazine. i subscribed for a bit and i got bored with it, alas. but i enjoyed this issue and boo for you, it’s sold out. but if i can find it, i’ll let you borrow it.
The New Chief Tongue, TNCT 9 Oct, 2010
not an official literary journal and isn’t that a refreshing change. Kemeny Babineau of Laurel Reed Books puts out this magazine sporadically and gives copies away for free. no gloss here and the editorial is a fold out from John Barlow all in caps, reminiscent perhaps of Hannah Weiner’s work. this mag is black and white and stapled. there are drawings, poems by bill bissett, Louise Bak, Greg Evason, Fred Wah, Nelson Ball and others. the back cover was either found or stolen. rebel yells are free.