From the Stacks: January 12, 2007

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.

The
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

Tabloid 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

It 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

DIAGRAM 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

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