Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Submissions: The Rising Tide

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

keep-calm-and-all-hands-on-deck-3We’re back in action here at the office. Actually, we’ve been back since Monday, but this is the first chance we’ve had to say hey. Our reading period began August 15, and already we’ve received upwards of 600 submissions. We’ve been reading like mad—not to mention welcoming a new slew of volunteers and showing two new staffers the ropes. Yep, Assistant Editors James Ellenberger and Gwen Kirby are on the job . . . and the amazing José Angel Araguz returns as Associate Editor. Rounding out the office staff,  we have Nicola Mason and Matt O’Keefe (Managing Ed and Senior Associate Ed, respectively). Poetry and Fiction Eds Don Bogen and Michael Griffith are, of course, old hands—but we have an exciting new addition to our team in the delightful form of Kristen Iversen, who now selects all our literary nonfiction. Her first issue is our Fall/Winter number, due out in November. We’ll get back to our regular blogging schedule soon, but for now . . . we gotta tackle a few more submissions. Keep ’em coming, writer types, and thanks for sending us the good stuff!

Hink Pink Answers

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Michael Griffith: Congratulations to our puzzle contest winners, Stephanie La Francofille (with help from C.) and Vivian D., both of whom have earned either a year’s subscription to CR or a year’s extension. And thanks to all of you who tackled these tricky puzzles (and, again, to Dylan Hicks and Paris Review for their trailblazing and support). I’m honing and winnowing another batch to appear in our Fall/Winter issue. Look out, too, for new puzzle features—likely an acrostic and a another crossword—this fall.

answer key

  • What the Vienna Secession painter did to his GTO for the auto show (hink pink): Klimt pimped.
  • New NFL instant replay tool sponsored by a pioneering hip-hop label (hinky pinky): Def Jam ref cam.
  • Featured instrument in alt-country band The Beheaded Queen (hinkily pinkily): Anne Boleyn’s mandolin.
  • Internet discussion board for boosters of an ex-Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate (hinkily pinkily): Santorum fan forum.
  • Puzzlemaster is cruising for a lawsuit by wearing those wee denims (hinky pinky—all rhyme): Shortz courts jorts torts.
  • Yale deconstructionist, pony up what you owe to the self-deprecating comedienne! (hinklediddledoo pinklediddledoo): J. Hillis Miller, pay Phyllis Diller!
  • What golfer Michelle insisted on before she married legendary basketball coach Adolph (hinky pinky): Wie/Rupp prenup.
  • Periods of time Assange’s group devoted to divulging web secrets of ex-Monkee Dolenz (hinkily pinkily): Wikileaks’ Mickey weeks.
  • “Friends in Low Places” singer’s metafiction collection (hinky pinky): Garth Brooks’ Barth books.
  • The Man in Black’s soiree for a Greek elevator-music star (hinkily pinkily): Johnny Cash’s Yanni bash.
  • Porous yellow guy’s stint in ‘90s Seattle music (hinky dinky): Spongebob’s grunge job.
  • Wearer of a multicolored belled cap embroidered with an A (hinky pinky): Jester Hester.
  • Postgame Nawlins-style sandwich in Mudville (hinky pinky): No-joy poboy.
  • Poultry Viagra (hinky pinky): Rooster booster.
  • ‘90s sitcom namesake’s Vulcan-style telepathic linking with Tinkerbell (hinklediddle pinklediddle): Jerry Seinfeld’s fairy mind-meld.
  • Part of a cartoon shark’s contract that requires the studio to have soured unpasteurized milk on hand? (hinkily pinkily): Jabberjaws’ clabber clause.
  • Even on his ambulance stretcher, hipster Sanders diehard has Americanos lined up (hinkily pinkily): Bernie bro’s gurney joes.
  • Red-haired obstacle-course competitor, in Boston (hinky pinky): Gingeh ninja.
  • Nubbly bedspread of a 1970s songstress who was the former Mrs. Dragon (hinky pinky): Tennille chenille.
  • Calvin Broadus’ chowder hard-sell (hinky pinky): Snoop Dogg’s soup flog.
  • Basso-voiced villain: “Wayne’s World co-host, adieu!” (hinkily pinkily): Darth Vader: Garth, later!
  • Sharpshooting LA Clipper, first-aid provider to those injured by a current fad dance (hinklediddle pinklediddle): J. Redick, nene medic.
  • Nora Charles, dump that Gentile! (hinkily pinkily): Myrna Loy, spurn a goy!
  • Herb from WKRP haz buttery pizzeria treats (hinkily pinkily): Tarlek gots garlic knots.
  • Superman nemesis who’s paranoid that we’ve all been lied to—LIED TO!—about the birds and the bees (hinkily pinkily): Lex Luthor, sex truther.
  • Onetime prop comedian, now policing European polecats (hinkily pinkily): Carrot Top, ferret cop.
  • Revolutionary leader since 1959 errs in opening a gourmet bar & grill (hinkily pinkily): Castro flubs gastropub
  • Trail mix at sci-fi speed  (hink pink): Warp gorp.
  • Elegant appeal a harem-pants-wearing rapper derives from his fermented Korean side dish (hinklediddle pinklediddle): MC Hammer’s kimchee glamour.
  • “Why did the chicken have sex with the road?”, e.g. (hinky pinky): Diddle riddle.
  • Glass receptacle, located in a Tanzanian archipelago, for money to help a former Who’s the Boss? star now down on his luck (hinkily pinkily): Zanzibar Danza jar
  • NBA’s first great center, on a mountain ramble, snaps photos of mosslike composites with his expensive Japanese camera (hinklediddle pinklediddle—all rhyme): Hikin’ Mikan lichen Nikon (sorry!)
  • Place to which the viewer’s eye is drawn in a painting of a rustic honky-tonk (hinkily pinkily): Yokel joint focal point
  • Colombian pop star’s exodus from Mecca (hinkily pinkily): Shakira hegira.
  • “OK, I’m givin’ up. No more saying ‘nevermore.’” (hinky pinky): Cavin’ raven.
  • Mayberry-born Marine’s designer-knockoff glass tube for a Magus’s resin (hinkily pinkily): Gomer Pyle’s faux myrrh vial.
  • Widespread terror about a communist plot to make us all look as though we’ve just risen from naps (hinky pinky): Bed-hair Red Scare
  • Foxy Brown’s canned-meat phobia (hinky pinky): Pam Grier’s Spam fear.
  • Infamous dognapper’s measles-infected Caddy (hinklediddledoo pinklediddledoo): Cruella DeVil’s rubella Seville.
  • Sorry, duplicate here! Replacement was “Recently expired dictator has possession of onetime Red Sox skip’s Viagra” (hinkily pinkily): Kim Jong Il’s Zim dong pills.
  • Umlaut-happy rock-band frontman’s criminally good bargain on multicolored fabric (hinky pinky): Vince Neil’s chintz steal.
  • Second duplicate. Replacement was “Poker-faced bourbon distiller’s posts about a meat snack have gone viral (hinkily pinkily)”: Grim Jim Beam’s Slim Jim meme.
  • The Human Highlight Film is looking for fanatical devotees of the Wonder Twins’ monkey (hinky pinky): Nique seeks Gleek freaks [or “geeks”]
  • What to say to a budding wizard fencing with Gabe Kaplan (hinklediddle pinklediddle): Harry Potter, parry Kotter!
  • Penny-ante philippic from Ace Frehley or Peter Criss (hinky pinky): Pissant K*i*s*s rant.
  • Moment of maximum shame for a fooled ice defenseman (hink pink): Peak deke.
  • An Austrian logician goes bad in the fridge (hinky pinky): Gödel curdle.
  • Archie Leach’s wedding trousers (hinkily pinkily): Cary Grant’s marry pants.
  • Exercise monitor exclusively for poststructuralists or their ilk (hinky pinky): Lit-crit Fitbit
  • White House scandal: President’s sham South American camelid (hinkily pinkily): Obama’s faux llama.
  • Murray/Merrill portrayer mildly criticizes instances of Jewish prayer (hinkily pinkily): Gavin dings davenings.
  • Von Richthofen, cuttin’ back on his daily pills (hinkily pinkily): Red Baron, med parin’.
  • Group of trucks hauling 007’s ornamental fish (hinky pinky): Bond koi convoy.
  • Part of Lady Spencer’s tennis outfit, that time at the Kennedy compound (hinklediddle pinklediddle): Diana’s skort, Hyannisport
  • S&M equipment purchasable, in spotted-horse pattern, at 30,000 feet (hinkily pinkily—slight cheat in the rhyme): Skymall mag piebald gag.
  • Result of HMS Beagle naturalist’s high bid on a Bundren child’s flivver (hinkily pinkily): Charles Darwin’s Darl car win.
  • A certain Stalag commander’s springtime sexual idiosyncrasy (hinkily pinkily): Colonel Klink’s vernal kink.
  • Lord Greystoke, forbid custard tarts! (hinky dinky): Tarzan, bar flan!
  • Ornithologist has snared an icon of 1970s cool (hinkily pinkily): Audubon’s caught a Fonz.
  • Result of bowdlerizing a famed NYC street photographer’s work to make it safe for children (hinky pinky, all rhyme): PG Weegee.

And a bonus hyper-ridiculous one, this time a hinklediddledoodle dinklediddledoodle: Famed “Omaha”-shouter ties the knot at a bronzing salon in the Wright Brothers’ hometown, in a ceremony that takes place during a publicity stunt modeled on the one made famous by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. (Hint: Use the person’s full name.)



Schiff Awards: A Few Days Left to Enter!

Monday, July 11th, 2016

clockFor just one more week, The Cincinnati Review will be accepting entries for the 2016 Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in Poetry and Prose. One poem and one prose piece (fiction or creative nonfiction) will be chosen for publication in our 2017 prize issue, and the two winners will each receive $1,000.The entry fee of $20 includes a year-long subscription (two issues), and submissions will be accepted until 11:59 PM EST on July 15. All entries will be considered for publication. Please submit up to 8 pages of poetry or one story/essay of up to 40 pages per entry. All entries should be submitted through our online submission manager. For complete contest guidelines, please visit

Schiff Awards: Open for Your Best Lit Business!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

It’s that time again! We are officially accepting entries for our summer contest—the Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in Poetry and Prose. The purse is a cool grand for each winning piece. AND in honor of her namesake, Adele has agreed to sing at our celebratory backyard BBQ for the winners. (Not really, but you knew that, right?) For details, click here. Don’t forget to check out the winning poem and story from last year’s contest—written by Jaime Brunton and Robert Long Foreman—featured in our current issue!

Spring/Summer Issue Has Shipped!

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

13.1 is here! We just shipped the last, lovely issue, so if you’re a subscriber, expect . . . the expected. Hope you enjoy the wonderful work therein by the likes of Steven Sherrill, Cary Holladay, Dan Bellm, Barbara Hamby, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, Beth Ann Fennelly, Brock Clarke, and other literary, er, leviathans? No. Lemurs? No. Llamas? Yes! Many more literary llamas. Not to mention the winners of (in poetry and prose) of the Robert and Adele Schiff Awards—Jaime Brunton and Robert Long Foreman. Have fun, readers!

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Why We Like It: “And We’ll See You Tomorrow Night”

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016


Julialicia Case: I’m not much of a baseball person, or even a sports person, so when I came across Dave Mondy’s essay “And We’ll See You Tomorrow Night,” I did not expect to be swept away. After all, the piece focuses on the “Best Baseball Game,” a twelve-inning matchup between the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox in June 2006. It seemed like a topic for a very specific audience. Mondy, though, like any good storyteller, begins early on with an engaging hook: “[This is] the ultimate story for any fan—the story of how Andrew, Allan and I actually influenced who won the Best Baseball Game.”


Much more than a sports essay, “And We’ll See You Tomorrow Night” is told in a series of small sections numbered consecutively, such as “1 (bottom),” and “10 (top)”—each section coinciding with the inning being described. Mondy covers a variety of subjects, giving us facts about famous baseball players, reflections on his relationship with his friend Andrew, and quotations from David Mamet’s Three Uses of the Knife, a book on the craft of playwriting—and though these topics are diverse, the careful structure and varied approach give the sense that something greater is going on. At one point, for example, Mondy discusses “Elysian Fields: the name of a park in Hoboken, New Jersey, that was the site of the first baseball game in 1846” but goes on to remind us that “Elysian Fields was the afterlife home of Greek heroes. . . . These would be the less obvious connections between the Elysian Fields and baseball: Heroes and Theater.”


Though the piece is filled with interesting tidbits about baseball, Mondy constantly alludes to things that baseball and storytelling have in common, as well as the ways that sports and stories play a crucial part in the human experience: “What I mean is that, though it is terribly self-centered, it’s hard not to view oneself as the center of the world . . . But sometimes, getting wrapped up in something outside oneself, something like a great baseball game, can take us out of our myopic minds.” While it’s true this is an essay about one person’s experience at a baseball game, it is also an essay about the ephemerality of friendship, the desire to influence something greater than ourselves, the sense of loss that often accompanies memory. Mondy seems to suggest that anyone can be a baseball person. In fact, we are all baseball people, even if we don’t know it yet.

Why We Like It: “Acheron” by Donika Ross Kelly

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Molly Reid: Lately, I’ve been interested in the way I—and perhaps other non-poets—read poetry. How might a fiction writer look at a poem differently than a poet? What do I seek in a good story, and how might that translate to a poem? (Do I need some kind of narrative arc? Lovely language? Image? Surprise?)

Reading submissions for The Cincinnati Review this semester, I’ve had to confront some of these questions, as we’re required to read both poetry and fiction (as well as nonfiction). Having never taken a poetry class, I was at first really uncomfortable with this. I felt unequipped to judge without the kind of rigorous critical apparatus I have for fiction. But after a few weeks, I settled in a bit. Though I may not always be able to name the form or rhyme scheme the poet is using or even completely understand what the poem is trying to do, I feel confident in saying whether or not a given piece works for me—the same way I can judge a nice brie from a rubbery cheddar. (I let the editorial staff parse the finer details; thank god they’re reading behind me.)

Along these lines, I thought it might be fun to take a look at a poem that spoke to me in the latest issue, Donika Ross Kelly’s “Acheron,” to try and examine the process of fiction-writer-reading-poem. Or ignorant-pleasure-seeking-individual-reading-poem. Not a deep critical analysis but a kind of casual aesthetic anatomy.

“Acheron” begins with the lines “This the season men were turned to trees—/ the formula simpler than we initially imagined.” This is exactly the kind of opening I like in fiction: an imaginative ltreemaneap, a strangeness, not to mention the compression of language. There’s the obvious hook—men turning into trees—though it’s the “season” here that really wins me over. It indicates a time limit, a particular container, retrospection. Even a nostalgia. Then that second line (“the formula simpler than we initially imagined”). What formula? How could it be simple? Who is “we”? And what (and why) did this we imagine what they imagined?

Such a beginning prompts a string of questions that—were this a story—would most likely get answered in some fashion. In the poem, however, none of these questions is answered (with the exception, maybe, of “the formula”: “The stiffened limb and rooting feet, the slow/ crawl of bark over skin; the god mourning/ a man now hidden.” Well, not answered so much as jerked around a little, like contents under pressure.)

I love this space—it makes me want to use words like liminal and hybridity. Why are we always trying to solve problems in fiction, find answers? It makes me consider how there should be more of poetry’s trouble-making and question-asking in my own fiction. And also, most definitely, more men turning into trees.

Art Song Performance

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

A rscoreeminder that there will be a live performance of our forthcoming art song this Thursday, April 28, at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. Composer David Clay Mettens and his ensemble All of the Above will play from 7 to 9 p.m. For our spring issue, Mettens set Mary Kaiser’s poem “He Dreams a Mother,” a beautiful score that’s our most extended art-song offering to date. Admission for the event will be free. For more information, visit

12.2 Reviewed!

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

cover12dot2A lovely review of our winter issue by DM O’Connor of New Pages—with shout outs to Dave Mondy, Leslie Pietrzyk, Wendy Call, Irma Pineda, Charles Rafferty, Rion Amilcar Scott, Anne Valente, and Tom Williams.

“With sixty poems, eight fiction pieces, three nonfiction essays, four reviews, five new translations and a featured artist, the 223-page 2016 winter issue of The Cincinnati Review has more than a little something for everyone. It’s biblical in scope, thick in thought and entertaining as hell.”

microreview/interview: Blackbirds in September

Monday, April 18th, 2016

by José Angel Araguz


Jürgen Becker’s Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems (translated by Okla Elliott)

“The memory does not exist, you have to create them” (Jürgen Becker)

These words, with their implication of memory as mortal creation, are emblematic of the spirit behind the shorter poems of Jürgen Becker. Reading through Okla Elliott’s translation of Becker’s poems, I was struck by the importance and emphasis placed on everyday occurrences as material for such memory-making. In “Beginning of September,” for example, nuanced observations become vivid actions:

No war. The old woman
draws her head in, because
she hears an apple
crashing through the branches.

Here, Becker’s lyric works both like a diary and a dispatch from the frontlines of everyday life. The juxtaposition of the statement “No war” against the scene that follows evokes the tension of life during war, and how a residual tension exists after.

Becker’s speaker in this and other poems speaks in a personal and direct manner; this approach makes for lyrics able to evoke life with an immediacy similar to Japanese tanka. This immediacy is evident in the poem “What You See”:

The headlights turn briefly
through the curve, and for seconds
the room is bright. Then you see,
on the wall, the shadow of the tree
which stands barren this summer.

Here, the lyric places the reader in the moment not just of noticing but of realization. The pacing of images as well as the resonance developed through pacing and concision bring to mind Octavio Paz’s short lyrics. Where Paz’s emphasis was on the unfolding poem as a mirror to the unfolding self, Becker’s poems emphasize the unfolding moment as possibility for art. As the speaker of “Hell, Sartre Said, Is Other People” states about the “do-it-yourself handyman who makes the mood/for his and my evening” and his drilling into walls late in the day:

. . . In case I see him, I’ll, I’ll
do nothing. Like always, complaints go
in the poem, which makes a large staying noise.

This creation of “a large staying noise” is exactly the ambition behind these poems. For Becker, the material to make this noise comes directly from memory. Through poetry, memories can be created from what we do and do not see, thus clarifying and pointing toward both what does and does not exist. When the poem “Tenth of July” moves from the image of gorse on a postcard into a memory of gorse not being there, an indirect presence is created around the idea of the shrub:

Gorse; with a postcard
from Elba island gorse comes
into the house; it’s Proust’s birthday;
and the memory of gorse
in those years when, along the railway,
the gorse didn’t bloom.

gorse“The decision to focus on [Becker’s] shorter poems,” Elliott shared via email, “was a practical one. He has such a large body of work, and he has done so many longer poems (5 to 50 pages in length) that to simply choose one or two to represent that entire vein of his output seemed like too much of a disservice. His longer poems also have quite a different flavor than his shorter ones, so the two types of poems didn’t seem to live together in a single book very well. I plan to tackle a selection of his longer poems in the future to create a companion volume to Blackbirds in September.”

When asked what influence translating Becker’s poems has had on him, on or off the page, Elliott said:

“Interestingly, Cincinnati Review just published a poem of mine that I consider very much influenced by the lyric logic of Becker’s poems. I think that’s what I learned most from translating his work, his subterranean and unspoken logic. In order to translate someone, you have to become a linguistic mimic of sorts, and by taking on his voice I learned to think like him a bit. Becker will likely forever be an influence on my poetry, even if only in subtle ways that are undetectable in terms of content or phrasing.”

Check out Okla Elliott’s poem “Machine-Minded” in issue 12.2 of The Cincinnati Review.

Blackbirds in September is available for purchase from Black Lawrence Press.