Literary MagNet

Kevin Larimer
From the May/June 2007 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Thirty years is a long time in the life of any man," poet Hayden Carruth wrote to Wayne Dodd, editor of the now-defunct Ohio Review ( in 2001. Carruth was commenting on Dodd's decision to end his thirty-year tenure as editor and cease publication of the journal that began at Ohio University in Athens in 1971. "It is also a long time in the life of a literary magazine," added Dodd in his editor's note to a two-volume anthology of work that had previously appeared in the magazine, a thousand-page swan song that included poetry and fiction by almost two hundred authors. Many readers were sad to see the Ohio Review go, but such is the Darwinian existence of a literary magazine: It doesn't last forever, and there is always another to take its place. Unless, of course, it evolves. Six years later, enter /nor—an acronym for, you guessed it, New Ohio Review (, the biannual journal launched in March. Published by the creative writing program at Ohio University, /nor features poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The premiere issue also includes an exchange between critics Marjorie Perloff and David Wojahn on the merits of Robert Lowell's Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006) and contemporary attitudes about the so-called confessional poet. "We're very proud to have such a unique and prestigious offering in our launch issue," says managing editor John Bullock, "and hope that it will not only be interesting to our readers but will also be useful as a critical resource for teachers and students alike."

These days, when there is no shortage of awful news out of Iraq (just recently, a suicide car bomb hit a book market along Mutanabi Street in Baghdad, killing at least twenty people and wounding more than sixty-five), the points at which contemporary literature and the horrors of the war in Iraq intersect burn ever brighter in the minds of readers. City Lights Publishers, the Feminist Press, and Zephyr Press are a few of the independent publishers bringing the writing of Iraqi poets and writers to American readers, but literary magazines have been relatively slow to publish substantial features on the subject. One notable exception is the Atlanta Review (, the Spring/Summer 2007 issue of which includes "The Poetry of Iraq," a sixty-five-page collection of contemporary Iraqi poetry edited by Sadek R. Mohammed, Soheil Najm, and Haider Al-Kabi. Atlanta Review editor Daniel Veach claims it is the only collection of Iraqi poetry that includes work written during the years since the American invasion. "How do they do it? How is it even possible to write poetry in present-day Iraq?" Veach writes in his editor's note. "One poet asks himself, ‘How can you extract poems and shrapnel from your chest / at the very same time?' The answer must be that poetry, and the human spirit, are tougher than we give them credit for."

The days of the hobo, the silent vagabond hopping a freight train and riding the rails with nothing but a bedroll and a free spirit, are long gone. (For a vivid account of the life of a hobo, check out Ted Conover's Rolling Nowhere, published by Viking in 1984.) Nevertheless, for Brad Bunkers—which, come to think of it, would actually make a good moniker for a hobo—that "great wandering spirit" inspired the "boundary-less community" of writers, visual artists, and musicians that constitutes HoboEye (, the quarterly magazine he launched with senior editor Mitchell McInnis last year. Seeking to explode the notion that artists' peers are determined according to geographical proximity, Bunkers and McInnis decided to launch HoboEye as an online journal because, as McInnis says, the Web makes "distances between readers and artists irrelevant."

Kevin Larimer is the senior editor of Poets & Writers Magazine.