Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mid-American Review

This blog hasn't seen a good touch of the literary for awhile, so I'm excited to talk about a great publication out of Bowling Green State University today.

Mid-American Review, vol XXXIII,  no.1

Mid-American Review is a publication of Bowling Green State University's English department, and each issue is a unique experience in the arts. The journal has been publishing the works of great writers since it began in 1972 as a small, in-house literary journal, and continues to publish now, as a journal that showcases writers from all over the world.

What I loved about the latest issue of Mid-American Review was the number of candid, honest pieces, that spoke to the mundane human experiences we've all encountered. The poems of Janet McNally and Jonathan Rice, for example, take on experiences of childbirth and suburbia, respectively, and make them poignant visceral.

In O--, McNally begins, "It's a  lot to ask the hips to separate," and later expands on the way her body felt before the unborn child's presence: "my bones fit together  when I was eleven/ and practicing plies on the barre." In this poem, the reader sees just how fully this woman's emotional landscape is conflated with and manifest in her corporeal body.

Similarly, in Late Subdivision, Rice talks about a quiet, suburban neighborhood ranged at night by "a helix of feral dogs," and juxtaposes this with young men "paired up to fan out, [and] ring doorbells...unfolding their pamphlets." On one hand, the"late subdivision," a pristine community of middle class home-owners, visited by traveling proselytizers; on the other, the wild coyotes that encircle at night and the odd tract "with no swingset" and "a clutter of hens." As a reader, I found this poem to speak volumes about the manifold "edits" we make on our circumstances, both consciously and subconsciously. We see what we choose to see.

This issue of Mid-American Review also includes some interesting fictional pieces. The Exorcist in Love by Thomas Cooper is a frightening and fantastical glimpse into the lives of a girl, a demon inhabiting her, and a holy man commissioned to make the demon leave. The story is entertaining on a basic level, startling and wholly unexpected on another. The story is also a great study in character point of view,  as each of the main characters mentioned take center stage at various points.

Finally, one of the most distinctive things this issue contains is a collection of essays from four authors and former MAR contributors  reassessing the 1962 National Book Awards. This section of the issue, titled "50 Years Later: Revisiting the 1962 National Book Awards," features Ryan Call, Roxane Gay, Alissa Nutting, and Charles Yu, all of whom write eloquently on books they believe should have been on the short list for the award half a century ago. It's a unique undertaking and timely--a project designed to re-evaluate what made works like The Moviegoer, Catch-22, Franny and Zooey, Revolutionary Road, and other works great, from a 21st century vantage.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this issue of MAR. While I didn't love everything I read, (and really, that's not the point. The idea is to showcase a wide diversity of talent) I recognized real mastery in all of the pieces. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy. A current issue is $9 and back-issues are $5.


Mid-American Review
Department of English
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403

And visit their website: www.bgsu.edu/midamericanreview

Note: I received my copy of Mid-American Review courtesy of The Review Review in exchange for honest review of the literary magazine.

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