From the Stacks: April 7, 2006

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

an era of electronic information, the newest issue of
The Common
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
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
. 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
. 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

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.