Apr/May 2007  •   Reviews & Interviews

Five Quick and Dirty Lit Site Reviews

Review by Scott Malby

The following are the author's opinions and do not in any way represent the official views of Eclectica Magazine or its editors.



Zine editors should never forget that a mag is only as good as its latest edition. Two or three unremarkable editions can ruin a journal. Readers go elsewhere. It is not enough to develop a following; you have to keep it. In this regard, MiPOesias does everything right. It is a remarkable poetry journal developed by Didi Menendez, and Amy King is Editor-in-Chief. Probably, without being aware of it, Menendez manages to encapsulate in a positive way those characteristics of electronic media that make it a new, worthwhile, and surprising medium. MiPOesias is immediate and is updated quickly. The use of effective guest editors provides for visionary variability that can both charm and add depth to a journal. For example, the Nick Carbo edition was fantastic. MiPOesias also has a chapbook and audio component and you can be emailed when new poems are added. Mipo radio may well represent one of the most exciting aspects of this journal. Overall, MiPOesias is both experimental and eclectic and when all is said and done, currently at the poetic forefront of American electronic literary publishing.


Alice Blue Review

Alice Blue Review is published quarterly and well worth the wait. What is unique about good internet journals is the variety and substantive, creative variability of the material available. Good journals refuse to pander to their lowest common denominator. If you are comfortable only with the standard or conventional, Alice Blue Review is not for you. It does almost everything right. Most importantly, it appears to revel in the knowledge that electronic media demands a different approach than traditional print media provides. The journal is organized in a simple, direct, and intuitively captivating manner. Post-modern, short fiction, and poetry represent its strengths. It is creative, smart, and excellent but sometimes suffers from an over-emphasis on novelty. This is a Pacific Coast Journal and may well be representative of the significant literary trends occurring in that part of the country.



Steven Teref writes in a poem featured in this impressive little journal: "The tunnel is subject to what the eyes fill it with." This quote can also be applied to electronic literary publishing in a number of fascinating ways. In APOCRYPHAL TEXT the literate mixes with garage band and appears to create not only a new vocabulary, but a new language and landscape. Editor Alan May is unerring in his textual choice of print and spacing. He states on his submissions page, "APOCRYPHAL TEXT seeks to publish poets with distinct voices/visions. The idiosyncratic and downright ornery are welcome." This strange little poetry site may well provide a remarkable and perverse glimpse into tomorrow. It is thoroughly embedded in the surreal possibilities and dangers inherent in contemporary literary internet publishing, and yet, as a result of, or because of it, provides a minimal, apocalyptic, starkly appealing vision.


Apple Valley Review

Apple Valley Review emphasizes contemporary literature. It doesn't shake the earth but manages to rise up out of it in an integrated, natural, and honest manner. This electronic review features essays, poetry, and fiction. It's carefully edited, easily navigable, and pleasing to the eye. The material contained is well written, entertaining, and thoughtful. It appears to be a relatively new zine with Leah Browning as the editor. What is the journal's literary slant? As Browning states in the submissions page: "If we are crying because we are moved, that is good. If we are crying because we have lost the will to live, that is bad." This is an unfortunate choice of words, and I'm not sure what it means, but the mag is definitely worthwhile, although a little staid intellectually. What it does well is put out a traditionally good product with depth. Leah Browning knows what she likes and shows herself to be a discerning publisher. I wish her journal a long run. It deserves to grow.


Poetry Magazine

If words like "fawn" and "taupe" are at the top of your vocabulary and you believe that a Mark Twain of verse is either possible or desirable, than the online site of Poetry Magazine is just the place for you. Cursed by the Ruth Lilly endowment, the strange acting Poetry Foundation will end up with around 10 million dollars a year. So far this foundation has managed to create a great deal of attention regarding itself. As reported in The New Yorker, it has committed roughly a million dollars a year to its web activities. Take a look at the site and decide for yourself if the money is well spent. Most deserving and excellent literary sites function on little or nothing. The New Yorker also recently reported that the Foundation spent $700,000 on a study regarding public attitudes toward poetry. What about a study on the needs of poets themselves? At times, the Poetry Foundation appears to be primarily an organization run by old people in search of new ideas that turn out to be old ideas in the end. You can bet that the Poetry Foundation Board will wine and dine itself into a brilliant set of beliefs, among them that it is the institution of choice to lead us into a new American poetic renaissance. Individual poets and organizations need not be wary. The Poetry Foundation may ossify into irrelevance if it continues in the controversial direction it seems to be heading.