Thursday, March 08, 2007

two new University of Ottawa journals: Ottawa Arts Review & The Puritan

Rare enough for one new literary magazine to pop up on a university campus, but two? There have been two new journals pop up at the University of Ottawa recently, although one of them you've seen before. The brand-new Ottawa Arts Review was aiming at a re-launch under the name Heat, but had to change after being threatened with legal action; I don’t know why they even bothered changing from Yawp in the first place. I don’t remember the changes being that complicated when The Carleton Literary Review turned into The Carleton Arts Review (another change is that the previously-free Yawp is now a $5 magazine under Ottawa Arts Review). I mean, the magazine already had a name and a reputation. They had a launch last Friday I was supposed to read at (I was still sinus-sick) that apparently went well, even without me.

Aural Surgery

With too little room for your teeth,
your pleating jaw folds on itself.
Molars grinding the bone beneath
where too little room for your teeth
makes the mandible shear the sheath
of gums, shatter the tooth-root's shelf.
With too little room for your teeth,
your pleading jaw folds on itself. (Jesse Ferguson)

A good looking perfect-bound journal, the first issue of "The University of Ottawa's Comprehensive Literary and Arts Journal" has poetry and fiction by a whole slew of writers including Amanda Earl, Jesse Ferguson, Chris Jennings, Monika Lee, Joy Mann, Marcus McCann, rob mclennan, Sean Moreland, J.J. Steinfeld and Melissa Upfold, among others. But why doesn’t the journal have any of the author bios? I hate journals that don’t include such; sometimes if it's someone particularly interesting, I'd like to be able to know what else that authors has done, and what else might be available.

red jacket: a sad green

sad red jacket flopped over
porch lattice, dark jeans linger on the white paint
legs spun underneath, arms dropped,
toque slipping down over wet hair,
long and brown and simple
like other girls but curly like
the ones who are hid away.
hand to hand I pass the joint,
let the ash fall
(dust to dust)
onto the already frozen dirt
garden; weeds gathered and surrounding.
it's only October.
a sudden sense of urgency
that time is moving too quickly;
cats hiss and snarl underneath
a car in the driveway nextdoor.
my eyes are dry
nose sniffles
body aches
it is just
beginning to get colder.
the maple trees have become
infected with viruses
brown cigarette burns, the leaves,
they do not drop in variegated colours anymore
just sad green, dilapidated green. (Melissa Upfold)

The second is The Puritan: Ottawa's Literary Prose Journal. There aren’t that many options around town to publish fiction, but for Matthew Firth's Front & Centre magazine published through his Black Bile Press (which I haven’t actually ever seen a copy of). Distributed free around campus and at a few other locations including The Manx Pub, this 8 1/2 x 11 journal has fiction by a number of local and non-local writers including Dusty Owl's Steve Zytveld (his first fiction published by someone that wasn’t himself!), Sarah Gibbons, Patricia McCarthy, Cyril Dabydeen and Amanda Earl (she seems to be everywhere lately), among others. Very little here really caught my eye, but I quite admire the fact that these guys are doing it, and I hope that they continue. My only real complaint: each of the three editors, Tyler Willis, Spencer Gordon and Omid Amidi, wrote editorials at the beginning of the issue, taking up five full pages between the three of them. I understand that they're young, and excited (its exciting to start a journal), but no-one ever picks up anything to read the editing, but to read the writing. The same could have been accomplished by all three on a single page (if they really had to at all). If the strength of the work they've decided to publish doesn’t speak on the behalf of the editors, nothing else will.

No comments: