Porter Gulch Review

by Ayo Khensu-Ra

Porter Gulch Review is a literary journal out of Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz County. Like Forum and other college-based literary magazines it is assembled by students. It features poetry and fiction, drama, critiques/reviews interspersed with photographs and other forms of visual art.

The magazine is mostly black and white. The design is very clean and modern with the authors’ names placed vertically near the margins of the pages; titles are in gray above standard black print. On some of the pages, writings share space and overlap with pictures Much of the visual art is very striking and compliments the written material very well. Much of the written material itself is also very good, covers a wide range of subjects and experiences as well as a range of styles and techniques.

The poetry and fiction is followed by a series of critiques concerning selected submissions to the magazine as well as book reviews. Both sections are written by students in the class that produces PGR. The quality varies a bit in these two subsections though overall, the reviews and critiques are interesting. Overall Porter Gulch Review is a nicely put together, with a lot of quality fiction, poetry, photographs and artwork and is well worth a read.

Issues back to 1999 are available as PDFs on Cabrillo College’s website.

A Solid and Consistent Online Journal

By Karim Quesada-Khoury

As an active writer, I often look for new forums from which I can find fresh ideas and topics to explore. One can only produce so much writing from looking inward and conducting musings about their personal life, their state, their dreams. So I often find myself turning to literary magazines. Outside of books, they may be the most potent source of creative stimulation; they host numerous voices, varying so much in style and subject as to give a feeling of a bustling classroom workshop, where each page turned is a new table with another student reading their piece aloud to a small but hungry audience. At least, this is what the best magazines give to me.

Ascent is one such magazine. Do not be put off by the fact that it exists solely online (it recently switched to an internet-only format, after 32 years as a print magazine). So much creative writing on the web seems to have been produced by well-intentioned would-be writers, who know only the most basic and clichéd styles of poetry or storytelling and who cannot for the life of them work a spell-check program. Two minutes on such sites would turn even the most easygoing reader into a grumpy stickler, who slaps his forehead in light of such horrendous displays of clumsy grammar and botched vocabulary. Like a breath of fresh morning air, the writings published by this magazine—mainly fiction, poetry, and essays—are polished and thoughtful. Though the stories certainly are as different and varied as in any quality magazine offering, a common thread among them is the clarity of vision and nuanced imagery of a novel. The poems are diverse enough so that if one seems too abstract or free-form for your taste, the next one will surely strike a different chord. The essays are the least predictable, the quality of the writing being much more erratic than the rest of the site. Yet even there they can pique your interest, reading like memories which blur at the edges but remain clear in all the important places.

Ascent is not the Holy Grail of online journals. It isn’t revolutionizing the format, nor touting itself as the future of creative writing. Yet the standard of quality is high enough to warrant your attention. If you are at all interested in writing as an art-form, it is absolutely worth your time and effort to sift through the many stories and poems and assorted pieces. Inspiration, insight, and entertainment can all be found in its archives, as well as a chance to be published on its site. Submission to Ascent is an easy process, involving a single page fill-out of information. To any City College student who is attempting to be a poet or writer (and of course to any random person out there who writes, beginner or professional-grade), this is an excellent forum to seek out.

Ascent magazine, (http://readthebestwriting.com/ )

Switchback, University of San Francisco’s Literary Magazine

by Cara Baker

Switchback is a literary magazine published by the graduate students of the USF MFA program. Their website is well put together, my favorite being their links page which connects their readership with other literary magazines, affordable web design companies and literary venues. Definitely check out their links. They may prove very useful to you.

The group publishes two issues per year in the fall and spring, coinciding with the school semester. Each issue has a theme and it is always something vs. something. For example, their last issue was titled Process vs. Product. Past issues include Stillness vs. Frenzy and Confession vs Mask. Only critical essays and artwork need to relate to the theme. If they publish your work you will be included in their contributor bio section. They take electronic submissions twice per year and accept outside submissions as well as from USF students and faculty. They require the genre and title in the subject line and the work as an attachment. Submitters may not include their name in the attachment in order to keep everything anonymous which I think appeals to those whose work is being judged. Artists, take note; they have a limited amount of artwork and are looking for more submissions so send in your best work. Just make sure it ties in to their theme for the issue. You will need to send an explanation on how your piece relates to the their theme. Each semester they throw a launch party to which everyone is welcome. The readings at these events are archived in in the magazine’s online video section and on You Tube.

If you are not planning to submit to the magazine please at least check it out. It is a well made magazine and it is clear that much effort goes into selecting fine work. The selection of poetry pushes the boundaries and is often experimental in nature. The art reflects this aesthetic as well. I feel that many of the pieces will beg another reading and they certainly challenge the reader to think about what they’ve just read.

If You Like Us You Might Also Like…

By Sean Hewitt-Mallet

Do you like the type of work that Forum is doing? Would you like to pursue your literary reading or writing beyond the hallowed gates of the college community? Then may I suggest that you check out the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP).

The CLMP, which has been around in some form or other since the late 1960’s, and has been online in its current form since 2000, was meant as an intersection of independents in the publishing industry, at the CLMP website, located at www.clmp.org , you can find a directory of near a thousand independent literary presses and literary magazines from all over. From the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal  located here in San Francisco, to the Hollyridge Press (http://www.hollyridgepress.com/) in Venice California, the Boston Review (http://bostonreview.net/) which is published out of Massachusetts or even as far as 96inc which at the very least is written in Japanese – just to name a few.

Of course just because it has a large number of diverse magazines and presses in its registry does not mean that there aren’t any that CLMP skipped over; Paris based 3:AM Magazine (http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/) with its slogan of “Whatever it is, we’re against it” provides fiction, poetry, interviews, critical writing, and non-fiction to its readers, online only, social justice focused, identity theory (http://www.identitytheory.com/), or apparently the oldest surviving online literary magazine ECLECTICA Magazine (http://www.eclectica.org/) are all  seemingly missing from the CLMP database.

So if you are a writer or a reader and you want to do more of either keep your eyes open, because there are plenty of opportunities out there to expand your literary world.