Author: Cincinnati Review

miCRo: Mahreen Sohail’s “Iddat”

  Assistant Editor Molly Reid: In Mahreen Sohail’s hybrid piece, “Iddat,” a definition evolves. What seems initially to be prohibitive—a list of men a widow is required to avoid during the prescribed Islamic period of mourning—becomes celebratory, a reclamation of self. With incantatory grace, Sohail takes us into a pleasantly shaded corner of what might be called The Current Disappointment with Men.   To hear Mahreen read her piece, click below:   Iddat by Mahreen Sohail A widow’s act of not seeing, meeting, talking to, or coming close to men she could one day marry or could have...

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What We’re Reading: Thomas Pierce’s “Hall of Small Mammals”

Editorial Assistant Alex Evans: The realities of being a graduate student in creative writing are such that I have very little time to read outside of my coursework. However, for the past few months, I’ve been using whatever spare moments I can find to revisit some of my favorite novels and collections of the past few years. The first among that bunch has been Thomas Pierce’s 2014 short story collection Hall of Small Mammals. Pierce grew up in South Carolina and received an MFA from the University of Virginia. Hall of Small Mammals is his first book, but stories in...

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Nominations Season

  It’s that time of year again, when across North America leaves fall from deciduous trees, people gather together indoors to eat more food than they should, and literary journals compile nominations for the Pushcart Press and other important anthologies. We find this to be a tough season: less light, expanding waistlines, and having to choose between the pieces in our issues, which sometimes feels like picking a favorite child. We’re glad that there’s often a second round of nominations for the Pushcart from the contributing editors, and we look forward to sharing those sometime in 2018. In the...

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miCRo: Hugh Martin’s “Iraq Good”

  Assistant Editor Caitlin Doyle: In “Iraq Good,” poet and veteran Hugh Martin presents a scene that bristles with tension. As an American soldier stationed in Iraq, the poem’s speaker paces with his fellow servicemen outside of the Sadiyah police compound while several small Iraqi boys linger nearby. The children engage in pretend fights (they “chop each other, gently, with knife-hands”) and practice their English with the soldiers, who respond to them in a playful and encouraging way. But even while the American men and the Iraqi boys participate in a spirited back-and-forth, we feel with increasing intensity the many...

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miCRo: Kristine Ong Muslim’s “Holocene: Microfilm Reel 82”

  Assistant Editor Molly Reid: In Kristine Ong Muslim’s devastating piece, she doesn’t allow the reader to look away, and what she shows us—a timeline of human “advancement,” from early hominids to our eminent extinction—is part-history lesson, part-prophesy, and all gut-punch stunning. In her own words, “Holocene: Microfilm Reel 82” is “a conceptual piece, a recitation of historical facts, possibilities, and improbabilities—woven in such a way that they elicit digital distrust, thus evoking a critical period in the era of fake news when machine-learning capability for recognizing fake content gets overwhelmed by the rapid spread of digital misinformation and...

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Reflections on Zadie Smith’s Niehoff Lecture

(Editors’ note: Every year, the Mercantile Library, a local membership library, sponsors the Niehoff Lecture, a black-tie fundraiser that brings a literary star to Cincinnati for a dinner and lecture. For this year’s event, novelist Zadie Smith was interviewed by Jim Schiff, a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and a great friend of the CR. Thanks to a donor, several UC students, including Claire Kortyna, were guests at the dinner.) Editorial Assistant Claire Kortyna: “He couldn’t have been more horrified if I’d have said I wanted to go into porn!” The crowd erupted into laughter as...

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What We’re Reading: Holly Goddard Jones’s The Salt Line

Editorial Assistant Sakinah Hofler: When I first saw my reading list for my Forms class, I noted the usual suspects—Woolf, Austen, Elliot, Zadie Smith—then I paused at one title, The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones. Knowing Jones from her collection of realistic stories (Girl Trouble), I was surprised by the first line of description for her latest book: “After the country’s borders have receded behind a salt line—a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks—a group of adrenaline junkies pay a fortune to tour what’s left of nature, no longer held captive by...

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miCRo: Kathryn McMahon’s “Boom”

  Associate Editor James Ellenberger: “Boom” reads like a vivisection of a Studio Ghibli film. It’s magical, beautifully rendered, and haunting. What strikes me the most is the piece’s aural effect: McMahon layers vowels (“Now it looms, quiet, as water should be”) in a manner that’s reminiscent of waves overlapping and erasing themselves. The alliterative movements, of which there are many, blur the boundaries between individual words and further emphasize the liminal space between the girl and the ocean, the reader and the text. To hear Kathryn read her piece, you can click below:   “Boom” By Kathyrn McMahon...

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Why We Like It: “Family Photo of America” by Lynne Potts

Assistant Editor Caitlin Doyle: Exploring the intersection between nation and citizen is never an easy undertaking for an artist, and poet Lynne Potts braves the task with startling skill in “Family Photo of America” (in our most recent issue, mailed to subscribers just last week!).  From the very beginning, via the piece’s title, she invites us to blur the line that separates the personal (“family photo”) from the national (“America”), suggesting the possibility that an ineffable force binds all Americans into something resembling a familial unit. The title, like much of the poem, works both as a tongue-in-cheek appraisal of patriotism’s...

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miCRo: Brian Ma’s “Shadows on the Korean Peninsula”

  Assistant Editor Caitlin Doyle: Brian Ma’s nonfiction piece “Shadows on the Korean Peninsula” artfully engages difficult political material via evocation, juxtaposition, and figurative suggestion. Moving between a lyrical meditation on Moon Joon-yong’s art piece Augmented Shadow and fact-driven vignettes about Korean culture, past and present, Ma refuses to let us shield our eyes from the nuclear standoff between North Korea and the United States. “Shadows on the Korean Peninsula” invites us to look at life through the lens of art, and we’re left haunted by the view.  To hear Brian read his piece, you can click below:   “Shadows...

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