Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review of HANGING LOOSE 97 literary magazine

Review of HANGING LOOSE 97 literary magazine, 2010, $9; subscription $22 for three issues, (published twice a year), sample copy $12 (includes postage). Submit to Hanging Loose Press, 231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 with self-addressed stamped envelope. See more information at www.hangingloosepress.com.

Review by Barbara Bialick

You’ve heard the phrase, “Read the magazine before submitting”. That’s clearly the philosophy of Hanging Loose, which writes on its website: “It doesn’t sound flippant, we hope, if we say that the most meaningful guide is the magazine itself.” I have just traveled through this entire issue, including the special section for high school writers at the back, but can’t conclusively say what makes a poem (or story) a Hanging Loose piece. Polished and well-edited, yes, urgent and leftish political, sometimes, receptive to wide free verse poetry lines, yes, but also publishes narrow ones, experienced poets, yes, though one of the best writers in the book was in the high school section. Rhyming would not be at home here, symbolism, irony, and a general sense of cultural history, probably would.

Part of the style of the magazine is a sort of random chaos that nevertheless organizes it well for readers. All poems (and short and rare stories) are presented alphabetically by last name, as opposed to a theme or pattern imposed by editors. The high school section has its own alphabetical layout. All the authors’ bios are also presented alphabetically—it’s easy to keep track of where the writer lives or comes from, which is as far away as Peru down home to Brooklyn, New York. Amazingly most of the Brooklyn writers landed in the center of the book! Also found in the middle are ten intriguing paintings presented glossy in black and white, as with both covers, by Sean Grandits, of Brooklyn, New York.

Here are some poems that held my interest:

“The moon is shy, but bold./The moon is made of ground goblins./…The moon cried louder than cats do…The moon’s a ball. And we are all invited. All.” (Mudhuri K. Akin, of Weston, Maryland, “More about the Moon”.)

“The biodegradable bomb/causes no collateral/damage if left/unexploded…” (Indran Amirthanayagam of Lima, Peru, “Memo (About Ordnance”.)

“Yesterday, my father’s birthday/…He quit at eighty-six/angry with age, annoyed at each small ache/…one fast ball low across the net, and then/goodbye.” (Rosalind Brackenbury, of Key West, Florida, “Goodbye”.)

“I love ordering and having to order/in the mist of the waitress’ cologne./I love watching her walk/toward me. I love watching/her walk away.” (Leonard Gontarek of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, “Derrida”)

“my hair hanging long, romancing my waist. Down by the creek with my baby./marsh marigolds slick as melted butter. His hair sticking up in small flames…./that made my mouth look like glass and rode the frisky horse of time, mane braided/with stars, down the serpentine humps of the slide. A stone horse, but I was flying.” (Diane Suess, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, “I Once Fought the Idea of Body as Artifact”.)

“Three times, Dad, you died on the table/and three times they brought you back./You were sure death didn’t want you/…the fourth time you died on the table/your organs shut down, one at a time/like lights blinking out across the city/during a blackout, one grid after another…” (James Valvis, of Issaqua, Washington, in “Power Outage”.)

And finally, from a younger generation called “high school” I pick out Nikki Rhodes of Vancouver, Washington in “Dear Mississippi”: “I would not save you, Mississippi River; in a flood/…I would carry Chaucer/and hope that the language of those who survived/was his. I would save the cats. The cats/they would rule the boat, would sit at every/edge…/I would carry Uruguay/with me and leave no room/for you…/Everyone would be there but you.”

I hope this helps someone “get” the magazine “HANGING LOOSE 97” which is by the way, well worth getting a copy of!

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