Monday, March 20, 2006

Simmons College hosts a gathering forthe new renaissance (tnr) celebrating the local literary magazine'snew issuetnr #37

Simmons College hosts a gathering for the new renaissance (tnr) : celebrating the local literary magazine's new issue, tnr #37: a reading with reception following. Wednesday, April 5, 7-9 pm, in the Trustman Art Gallery, 300 The Fenway, 4th floor, Boston. Free and open to all. For more information, contact Rachel Ruggles,, 617-521-2220. Featured Readers: Marc Widershien, Doug Holder, Dan Tobin, Doc. Mal Hammond, and Afaa Michael Weaver.

Against all odds, the new renaissance (tnr) insists on upholding its over 37-year tradition of excellence by publishing tnr #37. Full of literary and visually artistic gems that provoke, titillate, satisfy, and/or haunt the senses, tnr #37 vibrates with contributions from the present and the past, pulled from the international, national, and local scene. Where else can Russian poet, Marina Tsvetayeva (1892-1941), Paris-born painter, Zevi Blum, Boston-based poet, Daniel Tobin, East German short story writer, Barbara Honigmann, traditional Chinese poets, Liu Yung and Su Shih (11th century), and an article on “Reigning in on Rainforest Destruction” by the UN’s Indian environmentalist, Ashindu Singh and Virginia-based international forester, Gyde Lund, co-exist?

tnr, established in 1968, has always been grounded in the real world. Each issue contains a lead article that deals with a hot socio-political topic. This is a rare approach in the literary magazine world in the 1960s and still is. tnr also differs from most litmags in its high emphasis on the visual arts. In tnr #37, artist Zevi Blum has eight fantasy-laden etchings and the talented but unpredictable Kai Althoff has nine “paintings” (his preferred term: drawings on canvas). The translations of non-English literary work are also visually engaging: the Chinese calligraphy and Tsvetayeva’s Cyrillic are displayed right alongside their English translations. In 1969, tnr was the first non-scholarly magazine to feature bilingual poetry (which, in 1980, became a tnr standard) and, in 1989, the magazine introduced bilingual fiction.

Some of tnr #37’s other highlights:--“Reigning in on Rainforest Destruction” cautions that “…if deforestation continues at its current rate, the world’s tropical rainforests will be wiped out within 40 years.” The authors conclude their article by suggesting the steps that governments, corporations, and individuals must take to prevent further destruction.--Russian poet Marina Tsvetayeva, who along with her more famous contemporary, Anna Akhmatova, is now considered to be the “other” great Russian woman poet of the last century. Like many Russian writers and artists of the early 20th century, Tsvetayeva led a life of suffering and sorrow – in 1941, she committed suicide.

--Many fine poems from American writers, including Daniel Tobin, a professor at Emerson College in Boston, and winner of many awards including the “Discovery/The Nation Award”; the Robert Penn Warren Award; the Greensboro Review Poetry Prize; and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.--A satirical essay “The Swoon of the Unknown Soulmate” by Norman Ball, a widely published Glaswegian native, who lives in Virginia.--A review, “Blissful Dreams of Long Ago” by Ruth Moose of Helen Masson Copeland’s memoir “Pill Hill: Growing Up With The Mayo Clinic”. Moose teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill and is the recipient of many awards, including five PEN Awards for Syndicated Fiction, a Robert Ruark Award for Short Story, and a MacDowell Fellowship.--Other contributors: fiction by M.E. McMullen, newcomer, Kenneth Rapoza, Germany’s Barbara Honigmann, and Bruce Reeves; poetry by Karen Braucher, Miriam Vermilya, Lynn Veach Sadler, Thomas Robert Barnes, Myrna Stone, Karl Patten, Thomas Kretz, Alice Jay, Jay Baron Nicorvo, Judy Rowley, Ann Struther, and Marvin Solomon; and color photographs by H. Gyde Lund and Ashbindu Singh. Without a doubt, this tradition of mixing various artistic disciplines makes tnr unique in the litmag world. No matter the medium or the message, tnr “has only one criterion: excellence.” (Library Journal) Other acclaim for tnr’s unusual approach: Magazines for Libraries states that tnr’s writers “…write with a skill and objectivity rarely associated with the traditional little mag genre” and the Christian Science Monitor has proclaimed that tnr “…offers the originality one demands from a small press, without the annoying quirks ….

”An independent, unsponsored literary magazine (itself amazing in an audio/visual age), tnr is the brainchild of Louise T. Reynolds and her teacher at Columbia University, the award-winning short-story writer, Sylvia Shirley. While they were still collecting material for the first issue, Shirley collapsed at The New School and died. More than a year later, Reynolds returned to her home in Arlington, MA, to launch tnr#1 in October 1968. The dream had become real -- and its loyal subscribers have come to expect the unexpected.From the beginning, tnr took a somewhat different turn from traditional litmags. Reynolds and Shirley wanted tnr to be part of the real world, a literary canary as it were, in a universe that is sometimes as dark as coal. Their seeking in-depth lead articles on political/social issues alienated them at once from the world of belles letters, the traditional litmag approach, and it didn’t endear them to the world of the alternative press either. Their insistence on publishing pieces which they might not agree with or support, and on eschewing fashions, fads, and coteries by accepting work only on merit, made them an outsider even among the world of litmag outsiders.But with more than 175 of their writers/artists having received international, national and local awards after being published in tnr and with at least 70 having received such honors and awards before ever submitting to tnr, Reynolds and her talented staff believe they’re doing something right.

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