Friday, May 13, 2011 10:47 AM
Our library contains 1,300 publications—a feast of magazines, journals, alt-weeklies, newsletters, and zines—and every year, we honor the stars in our Utne Independent Press Awards. We’ll announce this year’s winners on Wednesday, May 18, at the
MPA’s Independent Magazine Group conference
in San Francisco. From now until then, we’ll post the nominees in all of the categories on our blogs. Below you’ll find the nominees for best writing, with a short introduction to each. These magazines are literally what Utne Reader is made of. Though we celebrate the alternative press every day and with each issue, once a year we praise those who have done an exceptional job.
Since 1932, The American Scholar has provided a forum for the spirited exploration of ideas. The “venerable but lively” quarterly, published by the Phi Beta Kappa Society, enlightens and provokes readers with thoughtful prose on public affairs, history, science, and culture.
An arts magazine with a decidedly literary bent, The Believer covers books, film, music, and pop culture with barely contained intellectual glee. Part of the McSweeney’s empire founded by author Dave Eggers, it constantly finds new ways to showcase the creative impulse.
is published biannually, and the wait time between issues is agonizing. In 2010, the Canadian literary magazine published pieces by emerging writers alongside prose by giants Robert Hass, Geoff Dyer, and Mark Doty. The editors’ mandate is “to create a beautiful product,” and they succeed twice a year, every year.
Oversized and stuffed, The Brooklyn Rail opens with an eclectic blend of cultural discourse and political debate, then segues into an engaging array of reviews and down-to-earth interviews with both up-and-coming and established artists.
The stories told between the covers of Creative Nonfiction are not the confessionals that dominate chain bookstore shelves; they are thoughtfully told narratives that present a universal sense of experience. Through its consistent publication of quality nonfiction prose, as well as essays examining the genre more closely, Creative Nonfiction has helped give the genre legitimacy, continuing in the footsteps of writers like Mailer, Wolfe, Capote, and Talese, who paved its way.
There are few university magazines that, like Portland, can be described as simply profound. At its core, the University of Portland’s beautiful publication is a Catholic endeavor, but faith isn’t so much the subject matter as the fuel for essays and reportage that challenge and inspire.
is the best of so many things—philosophy, spirituality, photography—but what always stands out is the writing. In essays, fiction, memoirs, and poetry, this ad-free, independent magazine lets all of its content shine brightly, whether it’s a story about a recovering alcoholic finding redemption in a new family or a poem about the sweet things we leave behind when we die.
Thirteen years ago, the founders of Tin Houseset out to create a journal “tantamount to being guest of honor at the greatest literary house party ever.” Mission accomplished. In its 10th year, Tin House is wildly delightful, showcasing a roster of writers both emerging and established.
See our complete list of 2011 nominees.
Image by karindalziel, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 5:16 PM
When news of a terror plot in Portland, Oregon broke last week, it was initially reported that the alleged bomber, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, may have a stepmother in Minnesota. Investigators have neither confirmed nor denied the report, in large part because the Somali populace in Minneapolis and St. Paul is so vast. “Chances are, for a Somali outside of Somalia, there is a good chance he's going to have a relative here somewhere," FBI Special Agent E.K. Wilson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “So I guess we just kind of assume that. But does that mean there is a tie to the case in Minneapolis? No.”
While there is no official link between Mohamud and Minnesota’s Somali community, which is the largest in the nation, the Star Tribunegoes on to report that the Portland bombing plot “lends a fresh urgency to their efforts to reach out to young people and to fight extremism.”
“Minnesota has recently been at the center of one of the largest counterterrorism probes since the 9/11 attacks,” report Star Tribune staff writers Allie Shah and Richard Meryhew. “The focus stems from the recruitment of at least 20 young men, nearly all of Somali descent, bye the terrorist group Al-Shabab.” As a result, “Minnesota Somali leaders had already been working to protect young men in their community from the lure of radicalism and gangs.”
In May, Utne Reader published an excerpt from the Virginia Quarterly Review, “Homegrown Jihad,” which examined the roots and depth of that allure, particularly in Minnesota, where the first U.S. citizen to carry out a terrorist suicide bombing was radicalized. His name was Shirwa Ahmed, and one morning in October, 2008 he drove a SUV packed with explosives into an intelligence office in Bassaso, a port city in the Somali state of Puntland. Five people were killed.
While Ahmed’s story is markedly different from Mohamud’s, who grew up relatively privileged and assimilated in Beaverton, Oregon, Somali leaders in Minnesota worry that his actions will resonate with kids who feel disenfranchised or disillusioned.
As Abdisalam Adam, secretary of the Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America, tells the Star Tribune: "There seems to be a feeling of, with the youth, something is missing."
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 2:51 PM
Our library contains 1,300 publications—a feast of magazines, journals, alt-weeklies, newsletters, and zines—and every year, we honor the stars in our Utne Independent Press Awards. We’ll announce this year’s winners on Sunday, April 25 at the MPA’s Independent Magazine Group conference in Washington, D.C. and post them online the following Monday. We’re crazy about these publications, and we’d love it for all of our readers to get to know them better, too. So, every weekday until the conference, we’ll be posting mini-introductions to our complete list of 2010 nominees.
Before I landed at Utne Reader, I had all but given up on magazines on the "spirituality" rack. I have seen the light! Here are eight of our favorites...
Progressive Christianity has come to and gone from American life in the 86 years Commonweal has been giving voice to it. From its pacifist declarations during World War II to the battles over sexual orientation in our time, Commonweal has been a beacon. www.commonwealmagazine.org
Magazines that celebrate Buddhism sometimes feel redundant. Too few gurus cycle through too frequently. Tricycle searches out obscure and even marginalized voices to reach beyond the mainstream to find wisdom that turns faith into a lifelong journey.
From endemic farmer suicides in India to the “tyranny of trends,” Resurgence has made an art of pushing its writers to the uncomfortable edges of environmentalism and spirituality. Beautifully designed and richly sourced, this British magazine is unique and essential.
There are few university magazines that, like Portland, can be described as simply profound. At its core,the University of Portland’s beautiful publication is a Catholic endeavor, but faith isn’t so much the subject matter as the fuel for essays and reportage that challenge and inspire.
“Holy mischief in an age of fast faith” is the mission of the radical, left-leaning Christian journal Geez. And its creators fulfill their desires in every issue, by offering up a reverent collage of irreverent stories on everything from awkwardness to “experiments with truth.”
There’s no magazine quite like Lilith, whose tagline is “independent, Jewish, and frankly feminist.” Whether they’re tackling feminist funerals or domestic rituals, the editors are constantly betraying a passion that blends past and present, joy and grief, tradition and discovery.
Faith and politics are often deranged bedfellows. In the pages of Sojourners, the relationship is treated as a sacred one. In this institution of progressive Christianity, the left’s orthodoxies are rarely questioned—but rather are infused with the searching qualities of a living, breathing faith.
For 30 years, Shambhala Sun has been documenting Buddhism in America. That the magazine still inspires and feels fresh is testament to its commitment to its subject and its avoidance of the consumerism and gimmicks of the too often Westernized religion.
Want more? Meet our
health and wellness
and science and techology nominees.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 3:21 PM
I had never read J.F. Powers when a collection of his short stories was published by New York Review of Books Classics in 2000. Ten years later I'm still wrapping copies of the book on birthdays and holidays. And to the recipients of this most generous gift, the man is always a stranger. He's buried not far from Minneapolis in a cemetery at St. John's University, where he taught. John Rosengren, a former student of Powers, has written a delightful appreciation of the life and work of Mr. Powers for Portland:
Quite simply, J.F. Powers was a literary giant. His first novel ... won the 1963 National Book Award, for which Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, and Katherine Anne Porter were also nominated ... Powers' pen pal Flannery O'Connor sought his comments on her work and wrote him that "I admire your stories better than any others I know."
Not bad. Rosengren swallows some pride and shares some of Powers' scribblings from the margins of the young student's short fiction. "Where I'd written 'A twinge of anxiety shot into his gut,'" Rosengren writes, "he's penciled THIS IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A BAD SENTENCE. STUDY IT." During a meeting in Powers' pristine office, he remarked to Rosengren, "God doesn't like crap in art."
There was a brilliant absurdity to the way Powers talked and wrote about his theology. Rosengren gives us a taste. "I figure you have to make a bet," Powers told him once. "You can't go to the horse races and not make a bet. You can't go through this life and just be a spectator without ever laying it on the line. I'm betting on God to win, not to show." And here's Powers in an interview with the St. John's literary magazine:
There is a common quality in all art; in a sense that really good paintings, sculpture, music, writing have. I can't name it. It has something to do with God-given spirit, going beyond oneself. I think it's possible to write something, for me to write something, that even God might like. It's possible for me to hit a note, to get in a mood, to write something that is worthy even of God's attention. Not as a soul seeking salvation, but just as entertainment for God. This may be blasphemous to say, but I believe it. I don't think God is there and we're here, and there are no connections. I think there are connections, and I think art is certainly one.
Source: Portland (article not yet available online)
Image courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
Sunday, August 09, 2009 8:05 AM
It’s been two long decades since most U.S. bike companies moved their factories overseas, primarily to China and Taiwan. It’s a story avid U.S. cyclists often lament—the decline of domestic manufacturing—and the death knell seemed to sound this past April when the owners of Cannondale, among the last big brands to have a U.S. production facility, announced they would cease stateside production by 2010.
Perhaps Cannondale’s execs (and bummed-out cyclists) should pick up a copy of the New Internationalist. In its June 2009 issue, the global justice publication predicts that large-scale bicycle manufacturing will return to the United States in the next few years. Overseas shipping has become less economical (not to mention an environmental boondoggle), and U.S. retailers are interested in faster turnaround, industry analyst Jay Townley tells the magazine.
If the prediction bears out, which U.S. cities will nab domestic factories? The New Internationalist article, written by a contributor to BikePortland.org, understandably showcases the many perks of Oregon’s bicycle mecca, while conceding that Portland’s “roads and railways are not placed as favorably as a Midwestern transportation hub like Indianapolis or Nashville.”
Source: New Internationalist
Image by doviende, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 1:29 PM
Residents of a former tent city in Portland, Oregon, have slowly transformed their home from a makeshift campsite into a permanent, thriving community called Dignity Village. Dignity is made up of 60 once-homeless men and women who all pitch in with duties ranging from administration to security to homebuilding. The village’s website is as well-organized as the community itself, featuring news, photos, and writing by the residents.
(Thanks, Deputy Dog.)
Tuesday, February 19, 2008 3:29 PM
A vegan strip club opened this month in Portland—allegedly the world’s first, Willamette Week reports. At Casa Diablo Gentlemen’s Club, club owner Johnny Diablo tells KPTV, his customers can enjoy “meat on the pole, not on the plate.” Some feminists quickly took issue with this instance of exploiting women’s bodies in lieu of exploiting animals, a la PETA’s racy “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” ad campaign. Diablo maintains that his club provides “cruelty free pleasure.”
In addition to slinging healthy vegan fare, Casa Diablo is Portland’s only smoke-free strip club. It’s questionable whether clean air or a clean conscience for carnally indulging will be customers’ first reasons to visit.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007 9:31 AM
Portland has been attracting as much hype as it has hippies, earning high rankings on a range of “Best Places to…” lists involving bikes, babies, beer, and general pleasantness. In Willamette Week, Zach Dundas digs into some recent media coverage of his fair northwestern city, rating articles from the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, and other sources on their ability to get the “Portland thing” right. It’s a fun piece, and I’m on board with Dundas’ suggestion that the glut of media attention has more to do with “reverse provincialism” than with Portland’s sudden awesomeness. From the fast-paced perspectives of New York and Los Angeles, he writes, "Portland's relative relaxation seems exotic." (We see a bit of this in national coverage of Minneapolis, though it often carries a more condescending “Wow, who knew that arts, culture, and food had found their way to the frozen north?!” vibe.)
For the record, the Willamette Week staff’s ratings system—each article they discuss earns a score between 1 and 10, with penalties for transgressions like “Flagrant use of the word ‘grunge’ in a story about the Pacific Northwest”—doesn’t yield many high scores.
Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.
Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!
Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of Utne Reader for only $29.95 (USA only).
Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 6 issues of Utne Reader!