Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.
Cargo pants were made for carting the pocket-size zine The East Village Inky around town, whether you live in New York like the author, or an actual village with two roads, a cornfield, and not a boutique in sight. The hand-written publication's March issue trails the life of a 40-year-old mom as she navigates the rough waters of swimming-pool enrollment, broadens her children's cultural horizons via an 80-minute trip to the Dia Center for the Arts ('a former Nabisco cracker factory'), and emits contempt over Coco, the kindergarten class bear. Her meandering journeys are as turbulent as a 6-year-old boy, and although motion sickness is inevitable, the author manages to keep her head afloat -- and so, I think, will you. -- Kristen Mueller
Brad Strahan, publisher of Black Buzzard Press, sent us five sample copies of Visions International, the above-average independent poetry journal he's edited since he started it in 1979. Visions presents poetic voices from corners of the world from which North Americans don't often hear. The most recent issue, #73, contains poems from Romania, Pakistan, Poland, Iceland, Greece, and elsewhere, including the United States, as well as five poems translated from Ruthenian, an endangered language 'with between 30 and 40 thousand speakers, mostly in Serbian Vojvodina and Slovakia.' Under the Black Buzzard name Strahan also publishes chapbooks and trade paperbacks such as one he sent us: Michael Mott's ambitious, historical, book-length poem Corday, first published in 1986 by Beacham. -- Chris Dodge
If the emergence of spring isn't enough to warm your heart, you might want to turn to RFD, a charming publication out of rural Tennessee. A 'reader written journal for gay people which focuses on country living and encourages alternative lifestyles,' the magazine is coordinated by a collective centered around Short Mountain Sanctuary. The Spring 2006 issue overflows with pictures of men frolicking in the wilderness and loving every minute of it. It spotlights the Zuni Mountain Sanctuary, home to a group of Faeries living in New Mexico who, it seems, don't care to waste any time on inhibition. The Sanctuary is celebrating its ten-year anniversary May 6-13. Festivities will include an 'open house potluck, show and tell, and [an] art exhibit.' -- Nick Rose
In an era of electronic information, the newest issue of The Common Review offers a haven for people in need of a good book. Thomas Washington provides a 'Librarian's Lament' in which he mourns for students who rely too much on the internet. Ask Jeeves, Yahoo!, and Google are the electronic seductresses in this cautionary tale about cursory knowledge and blind faith in technology. Also in the Spring 2006 issue, Ethan Gilsdorf ponders the modern meaning of the word 'epic,' and Christina Boufis examines the dismal state of No Child Left Behind in California. -- Bennett Gordon
The March/April issue of Nh?, a bilingual magazine of Vietnamese-American culture, profiles two artist groups in its 'Special Arts Section': the Vietnamese Artists Collective (VAC) and the Ng? Club. Both create safe spaces for artists to bounce ideas off each other and discuss shared life experiences, but they have distinct ways of doing so. The more formal VAC supports Vietnamese-American artists by organizing shows and facilitating art salons. The Ng? Club is a gleeful group of media artists who named the club for their shared, difficult-to-pronounce last name, and meet for casual chats on Monday nights. -- Beth Petsan
The newest issue of Image (No. 49) tackles the question of art in worship, pulling together a variety of perspectives on how various elements -- wall hangings, music, even the art of ritual -- inform the religious experience. The quarterly journal is published by the progressive non-profit Center for Religious Humanism. The art-in-worship section's introduction asks: 'How can we, the church, discover a soundtrack with the maturity and richness we need to sustain us through times of joy and sorrow?' Deep questions like this, and the penetrating (and sometimes funny) responses that follow, make this issue a compelling and refreshing read. Of special note are the glossy pictures of places of worship around the world. -- Nick Rose
Dilapidated homes crowd a hillside overlooking downtown Rio de Janeiro in a photo illustrating a favela (slum) in the Jan./Feb. New Internationalist. The issue's theme revolves around squatter towns, constructed of '[m]akeshift housing that pops up wherever there is uncontested space,' mainly on cities' outskirts. 'Life there is often cruelly hard; neglectful and exploitative,' yet enterprising individuals, from the Philippines to Egypt, are rising from humble surroundings in pursuit of better lives. -- Kristen Mueller