Oct/Nov 2006  •   Reviews & Interviews

Five Quick and Dirty Lit Site Reviews

Review by Scott Malby


There are innumerable ways to define the literary web. One way is in terms of radiating influences and "inter" connections. You come across an author you like on a site originating in India. The problem is that you want to immediately read more of their work. You type the name of the author into a search engine. That search engine may instantly bring up examples of their work on sites ranging as far afield as Ireland or Romania. Interconnections also exist between individual sites. For example, the "links" page of literary online journals can provide a glimpse into a journals esthetic, influences or preferences. Aspects of geographic interconnections can be seen regarding some of the sharpest internet journals on the web today. These ezines are as good as any of the publishing concerns in New York or, for that matter- anywhere in the world. Elimae is one of my favorites. It evidences a linguistic awareness and maturity that is often breathtaking. Deron Bauman founded this journal. El Paso's Cooper Renner is the current editor. A non-academic site featuring poetry, short fiction and the occasional essay or review, Elimae is superlative, knowledgeable, intelligent, and trend setting. Associated with Elimae in the form of a loose but discerning Pacific Coast Community of sites are Snow Monkey, Ravanna Press, Alba, and Anemone Sidecar.

Snow Monkey

This site is run from Edmonds, Washington, edited by Kathryn Rantala. What matters in internet literary publishing is not where you publish from but the quality and range of the work showcased. This site comes highly recommended. Snow Monkey's consulting editor is Christiel Cottrell. Names are important, which is why I include them. The web is mercurial. As new projects and sites develop, the names of individuals previously associated with excellence can indicate future internet destinations of note. Two times a year, Snow Monkey issues print anthologies. It is risky, eclectic, word musing, most often discerning and prone to go quirky whenever the editor gets the whim. While Elimae is brilliant, Snow Monkey is wily, clever, rewarding, and makes an entertaining point of being unpredictable. It is impossible to ignore. News, notes, and updates are separately provided on the editor's information page called Pax Fuscata.

Ravenna Press

Snow Monkey's home is Ravenna Press. Not only is Ravenna Press active in the publication of hard copy releases of progressive fiction and poetry but it is also responsible for the ezine Anemone Sidecar. Ravenna Press serves as host for another interesting poetry site called Alba. The editor at Ravenna is Kathryn Rantala. The editor at large is Cooper Renner. Triple Press, formerly Renner's vehicle for innovative, hard print publications, has now been acquired by Ravenna. These ongoing relationships demonstrate what individuals separated by distance can accomplish and what a remarkable tool the web provides for creative involvement and cooperation.


Alba is a journal of short poetry, generally twelve lines or less. It's like your favorite, older relative you feel comfortable with, whose comments periodically cause lightning flashes to streak through your mind. Edited by Harold Bowes, Alba was formerly a print publication. It is now exclusively online. This movement from hard print to ezine publication has turned into a mass electronic land rush. Alba shows what can be accomplished in the name of brevity. It can be counted on to include at least two or three amazing pieces in each issue. This is harder than it sounds, and only a few editors manage to accomplish it. New editions are published on a semi-annual basis.

Anemone Sidecar

Anemone Sidecar can be best described by a line from Heler Granja's poem "Keel," found in the second issue of Sidecar: "...everything seems slurped in twitchy tongues..." Come to think of it, that line positively describes Snow Monkey as well. Editions of Sidecar are called chapters. Previous chapters are available for download as pdf files. This ezine is freakily entertaining and post, post-avant. As of this writing there have been three issues. The problem is it takes a few clicks to find out that past editions are available for free retrieval and, especially with this journal, you want to get to the poetic frenzy as soon as possible.