From the Stacks: January 12, 2007

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Utne Reader's library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what's landing in our library each week in 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the latest edition.

Daily ConstitutionalThe Daily Constitutional is not like other art magazines. For one thing, it's not published in a highfalutin art-scene city, hailing instead from Richmond, Virginia. For another, it provides more space for artists' writings than for their works; the Daily Constitutional is not a glossy, expensive showcase with strategically placed white-space. Editor in chief John Henry Blatter explained his vision in the inaugural issue, published just over a year ago: '[W]e artists seldom write about our art and art-making in a forum that is readily available to anyone else.' Such exposition has become the domain of critics, theorists, and gallery owners. But fret not -- the Daily Constitutional doesn't get bogged down in academic art-speak either. The current issue (#3) is a down-to-earth grab bag of paintings, photographs, letters, and prose contributed by more than 25 artists. At the back of the magazine, do what you will with 10 nearly blank pages crowned by random words like 'hot poop' and 'scuttlebutt.' -- Danielle Maestretti

Adoptive FamiliesTabloid photographs of celebrities toting newly adopted babies might serve to publicize adoption, but they don't convey the complex and joyful realities of adopting a child. That is where Adoptive Families steps in to do essential work. A 2006 Utne Independent Press Award nominee for best lifestyle coverage, the bimonthly packs plenty of expert advice on subjects from transracial parenting to special medical concerns for adoptive parents, and its 'Growing Up Adopted' pages are indexed neatly by age group. The magazine also shines as a forum for personal narrative. The January/February issue includes reflections from a single mother, soon-to-be-50, on adopting eight years earlier; a birthmother who arranged to spend special time with her newborn; and a couple who decided to adopt for a second time. Two pages of reader-submitted snapshots (read: an adorable array of adopted faces) make the sense of community palpable. -- Julie Hanus

Last week marked the bittersweet arrival of the final issue of the Journal of Pesticide Reform. In its 26 years, the magazine has tirelessly advocated against harmful chemicals as the voice of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP), based in Eugene, Oregon. The closing cover of the Winter issue pays homage to artist Mary Rounds with a collection of her past illustrations. Inside, a letter from Executive Director Norma Grier ushers out the title with a look back at the journal's evolution and the people who have contributed to it along the way. This spring, NCAP will introduce a new quarterly newsletter -- The NaySprayer -- to serve as an update on the efforts of the NCAP and its members. Lamenting readers will still be able to enjoy the beneficial fact sheets and articles that marked the JPR by visiting www.pesticide.org. -- Elizabeth Ryan

Weekly StandardIt must be a hard time right now for the editors of the Weekly Standard. Launched in 1995 in the midst of the 'Gingrich Revolution,' this bastion of conservative thought appears to be reeling from the loss of Republican control in both houses of Congress. In response, the editors have chosen for their cover what must be the worst picture ever taken of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Inside the issue, Fred Barnes tries to make the best of waning Republican control in Washington by waxing prophetic about President Bush's newfound chance to use the veto. In the coming congressional term, Barnes believes, there will be 'limited bipartisanship -- very limited.' Elsewhere, Mackubin Thomas Owens wonders if the United States could have actually won the Vietnam War, and Whitney Blake profiles Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, the only member of Bush's cabinet who has managed to hold her position for the past six years. -- Bennett Gordon

DIAGRAMDIAGRAM magazine's second print anthology, DIAGRAM.2, elegantly unites poetry, prose, and schematic illustrations largely taken from years three and four of DIAGRAM's online magazine. I was taken with images like the mechanical hat tipper and 'Success Chart of Spring and Summer Collars,' which details once-fashionable collar styles. Several mysterious technical illustrations look as though they could've come from physics textbooks. The poetry and prose intermingled with these images often read like orchestrations of decontextualized memories that, pulled together, take on new, vivid meaning. Edited by Ander Monson, DIAGRAM.2 captures in a single volume the wonderfully distracting experience of browsing an old bookstore's shelves. -- Evelyn Hampton

Meena is a literary magazine written in both Arabic and English. According to the publication's English-language website, 'The word 'meena' means port, or port-of-entry, in Arabic, and that is exactly what we would like Meena to be: a port between our cities, our countries, our languages, our cultures.' Meena is based in the port cities of New Orleans and Alexandria, Egypt. ?By a terrible coincidence, both locations were recently affected by water disasters: Hurricane Katrina, and a Red Sea ship accident near Alexandria in which more than 1,000 people died. Meena's second issue, filled with poetry, prose, essays, an interview, and visual art, is devoted to water -- not only as a destructive element but one that connects us all. -- Evelyn Hampton