In Praise of Print Journals
[Note: I wrote this a couple of days ago, but didn't actually manage to post it...]
Well, I guess the Anti-Muses have had it out for me since Snark & Blurb, so I am down with either a monster of a cold or, maybe, actually the flu, and so have spent the day in bed with aspirin and tissues and thermometer close at hand. Luckily, though, yesterday the postman brought a small heap of new journals to flip through--among them I've got the new Beloit Poetry Journal, a new Atlanta Review, a new TLS, and a slick and intriguing sample Subtropics. Sitting here at the screen is giving me a headache, so I am off to crawl into bed with new poems.
Other journals I appreciate having in the flesh include the handsome and intelligent Scottish Dark Horse, Light magazine (a quarterly of light verse, which always brightens our day when it arrives), Poetry, and Literary Imagination.
Some of these journals I subscribe to for reasons of loyalty as well as excellence--the Beloit Poetry Journal published my very first non-juvenilia poem. (I love that a journal that prints so much experimental free verse chose one of my rhyme-y poems.) But I savor it for its truly eclectic editorial ear, its sharp reviews, and the fact that there are no bios of the poets--it makes you read everything with a closer attention somehow, not worrying about who has won what prize or teaches at what university. The poems walk out on the bare stage without all that apparatus. Not everything is to my taste (thank god), but every issue contains at least one gem that I cut out (or copy) and save in a make-shift anthology (my personal Best American Poetry of 2007?). One such this past year or so was Kevin Ducey's "Chisolm Goodnight Loving"--a brilliant and evasive poem that mixes elements of a contemporary western with the story of Telemachus in funny, strange, haunting ways. On glancing at their nifty web site, which includes an extensive archive (one way in which print journals are making good use of their on-line presence), I see that--wowza--BPJ got a whopping 5 poems into the 2007 Best American Poetry. But why oh why not the brilliant "Chisolm Goodnight Loving"?!
Many subscriptions I have let lapse over the toddler-generated chaos of last several year--and it isn't always easy here in the Balkans to order a subscription (with an American check in dollars, for example, when some of them won't let you order on-line), and it is that much more expensive to get it shipped overseas. But what would I do without them?--after all, I don't have access to a library or even an English-language bookstore that carries much in the way of periodicals. I'm eager to hear what magazines I should add to my list. (I've heard good things about the revamped Virginia Quarterly Review, for example, but have never seen a copy.) What are people subscribing to? Giving as gift subscriptions? What do my fellow bloggers and readers recommend? It's that time of year to whip out the dusty American check book. What new subscriptions should I get?
A. E. (Alicia) Stallings studied classics in Athens, Georgia and has lived since 1999 in Athens, Greece. She has published three books of poetry, Archaic Smile (1999), which won the Richard Wilbur Award; Hapax (2000); and Olives (2012). Her new verse translation of Lucretius (in rhyming fourteeners!), The Nature of Things,...