Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Review of CTREVIEW, Spring 2011 edition

Review of CTREVIEW, Spring 2011 edition, Vol. XXXIII No. 1; 204 pages; send submissions September 1 to May 15 to Connecticut Review, Connecticut State University System, 39 Woodland Street, Hartford, CT 06105-2337. Check their website at www.ctstateu.edu/ctreview.

By Barbara Bialick

The CTREVIEW, a perfect-bound literary journal from the four universities in the Connecticut State University System, has a board of several editors, including one editor from each university: JP Briggs (Western Connecticut State University), Mary Collins (Central Connecticut State University), Jian-Zhong Lin (Eastern Connecticut State University), and Vivian Shipley (Southern Connecticut State University). There are also several other editors and a group of eight interns who put together this twice-yearly powerhouse of sophisticated poetry, fiction, essays, translations, an interview, fine artwork, and four award-winning works.

Acknowledging their own opinion of this quality journal, the editors note on their website: “The journal publishes the best in contemporary literature and essays. The selection process focuses on bringing to general readers cutting edge work that is both thought provoking and accessible.”

The first thing that captures the reader’s attention is the colorful, surrealistic cover art, “Kwanzaa Mothers, 2010” by Jerry Butler. He is also featured with two other fine artists on the inside of the book—Peter Selgin and Tino Villanueva, who is also a noted poet from Boston University.

There are so many good poems, it’s hard to pull quotes. While reading especially the second half of the book, the poems followed strongly one after another. Here are some lines from a few of them: “Indigo”, by Will Wells, “…one evening in Santa Cruz, you/led me to a bin of Moroccan cloth/and traced my fingers over dust devils/of dye until they were smudged with musk, an aromatic print of North Africa./Wedded to desert sweat, indigo rules/the pores in ways no French soap can subdue—a nomad’s irreducible essence…”

“Frankie Minh” by Susan Kinsolving: “In the Vietnamese orphanage, her eyes became infected; without anesthesia they were gouged out…At age five, she was adopted/by an American acress and renamed to honor Sinatra./…once at a grand house party full/of adult celebrities, she wore the (glass) eyes. When one fell out/and into a bowl of caviar, kindly laughter filled her ears/…She was…a star/…After the eye was /washed off, she held it in her hand, perceiving its elusive/charm and how clearly she could be the life of the party.”

Jennifer Purrine’s “I’ve Never Swum with Dolphins”: “But once I plunged headlong into a pool/of jellyfish, ten million pulsing medusae/ushering me under the waterline,/where I buried my face in the sheer miracle,/…a living garb/that kissed my skin with its milk, with its sting.”
Instead of having a pizza for twelve dollars, you might want to buy this book. The featured award-winners include:

CSU Essay Award, “Blackberry Redux” by Jan Tomas: “The last time I ate a blackberry pie, the wild, tangy flavor transported me into a thorny bramble buried deep in a forest of Missouri scrub oak…”.

CSU Fiction Award to Nancy Antle for “Waiting”: “What a beautiful necklace,” a stranger exclaims. “Thank you. My mother made it for me,” I say. “Years ago.” I am in the airport waiting—on my way to visit my mother across the country. I always wear her gift to me when I go. The necklace is my talisman…”

Pat Mottola won the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize for “Room in New York, 1932.” Christine Beck won the Leo Connellan Poetry Prize for “Sometimes He Comes Home Bloody.”

I think the Connecticut Review is certainly fulfilling its stated purpose: “a public service contribution to the national literary and intellectual discourse.”

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