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Some Kind of Record

- By Jim Hicks

First, let’s get one thing straight. I’ve never set foot in a war zone. For the past two decades, actually a bit longer, I have spent a good deal of time in a former war zone, but that’s hardly the same. And the difference isn’t simply existential, it’s categorical, in the Kantian sense. That said, over that same period, I have consistently tried to do what little I can do, with the means and abilities available to a middling academic and lit mag editor, in order to respond to the damage that war leaves in its wake, in the lives of one generation, and the next, and no doubt the next, the broken lives of those who have experienced what I haven’t. If you’d seen it, I’m certain, you would have done no less.



In Spite of Herself

- By Corinne Demas

We Were Promised Spotlights by Lindsay Sproul (Penguin Random House)

Lindsay Sproul’s debut novel, We Were Promised Spotlights, will no doubt resonate with readers who are especially interested in LGBT coming-of-age stories, but what makes this book stand out is the quality of the prose, the well-drawn, complex characters, and the compelling insights into the limited life choices available for so many American teens. Though the title is somewhat awkward, the lament “We were promised spotlights...


Homebound on Whitman’s Open Road

- By Marsha Bryant

Winter kept us warm . . .
T. S. Eliot

I’m writing this on National Beer Day in the United States, where we’re also celebrating National Poetry Month. So it’s a good time to catch up with the fifth Whitman tribute from Bell’s Brewery, Song of the Open Road. In these quarantine times when we’ve got time on our hands, a slow-sipping Winter...


Massachusetts Reviews: Absent Altars

- By Elmira Elvazova

Paper-Thin Skin by Aigherim Tazhi, translated by J. Kates. Zephyr Press, 2019

For a debut poetry collection, Aigerim Tazhi’s Paper-Thin Skin is a work of stunning originality. Part of what makes this work so compelling is the way that it grapples with the mystery involved in the creative process, namely the act of turning “everyday life into a miracle,” which requires a kind of searching and tuning-in to all frequencies until one finds a clear signal. The poetic imagination, which alights at making connections between seemingly dissimilar things, is the focus of the book, revealed through the speaker’s interest in mitigating internal worlds with external realities....

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