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  • Writer's pictureThe Iris Review

Alaska Quarterly Review

The Alaska Quarterly Review is a semi-annual literary magazine that describes themselves as having “powerful voices”. In their about page their mission statement is that they use “the power of literary art to promote empathy, truth, and learning in service of positive change”. I like that their journal has a purpose. It is not just a collection of good works, it’s a collection of works that all have a goal. They go on to say, “Our features empower artists and writers to develop broader questions and difficult conversations including works focusing on gender, race, ethnicity, the environment, and social justice”. All of the things mentioned are very important topics to me and makes me want to read the journal, as I’m sure it does for others who hold the same values.

The cover is beautiful and striking. I would be drawn to pick this up in store if I saw this. The photographer is credited in the second page and they list her achievements as well which is respectable and truly shows that they want to uplift their artists. The back cover is a plain white page of reviews. This can entice readers to pick this up if they were trying to decide if they should buy it or not. The font choices, sizes, and placements kind of remind me of an old school dinner menu. They do not sort alphabetically, but they do sort by category. So all the poems are together and all the short stories, etc. The spacing of the first novella is a little displeasing. There is a lot of space between the author’s name and the title of the work which feels like wasted space. They include the author’s biography in the bottom of the first page of her story which people may not stop to read if they are immersed in the story already. The novella is 32 pages long so each author is going to take up a lot of space in this journal. I was disappointed that they do not accept artwork or commission it. Artwork can really complement writing pieces and overall liven up the journal.

The first poem that caught my eye is titled, “Chris Martin Sings Shiver & I Shiver: a Poem for Madam Vice President” by Felicia Zomora. I like the structure of the poem and how it points out this is not for you, it’s for you. It breaks the fourth wall multiple times. It feels like a message to all the people she calls out. She mentions the Arabic form of poetry that embraces the beauty of pain saying, “This poem is for the ghazal. This poem is a ghazal because it’s a world view” ( Zomora 229). By including this she is embracing her culture. It’s bold and straight to the point. It feels like someone finally getting to express themselves.

Another poem I was drawn to is “Namesake Triptych” by Marie Tozier. I liked the poem because it feels genuine and real. It’s a recount of childhood and it keeps its innocence. It’s simple stories, but the recounts reveal more than the surface. I think the meeting of her grandmother is representing her finally connecting with her roots, especially with the line, “I realized then what a different life I would have led, A Puerto Rican instead of an Eskimo” (Tozier 249). It’s a charming and multi-layered poem.

Overall, I liked the voices of the authors that I read and I thought the journal itself was well put together with only minor drawbacks with formatting. I would be interested in reading other volumes.

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