From the Stacks: October 6, 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.

4strugglemag publishes essays, poetry, and
artwork from ‘the hearts and minds of North American political
prisoners and their friends.’ Edited by Jaan Laaman, an
anti-capitalist activist who has been imprisoned for more than 20
years, the zine is primarily an online publication, with print
copies free to prisoners without Internet access. The seventh issue
focuses on inmates in the United States, with reports on Black
Panthers imprisoned as early as the 1970s and environmental
activists fighting current charges. In one essay, a death-row
inmate urges others to nonviolently protest the death penalty by
refusing to walk to their own executions. There is also a damning
list of statistics about prisons and prisoners in Texas. —
Danielle Maestretti

The
International Rivers Network
is an organization that ‘protects
rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them,’
focusing heavily on the problem of dams. The recently arrived
August issue of their newsletter,
World
Rivers Review
, dives into Africa. Environmental
destruction, displaced people, economic plight, and famine are just
some of the problems exacerbated by dam building throughout the
continent. And China, currently pouring hundreds of millions of
dollars into dam construction in Africa, isn’t helping. Concerned
African voices, however, offer some hope. In the words of one man
from Togo: ‘I want to see independence from external influences,
and have Africans really profit from Africa’s resources.’ —
Elizabeth Oliver

Yoga publications can run the risk of redundancy,
over-enthusiasm, or even self-indulgence.
Yoga + Joyful Living, however, falls into
none of these traps. The November/December issue purveys the
customary information on active meditation, the benefits of various
poses, and the unity of consciousness and the universe, yet none of
the pieces on these topics are presented in a predictable or
mundane manner. Also included in this issue are edgy articles about
society and the environment, such as Phil Scott’s ‘8 Things Every
Good Citizen Should Know About Energy Farming,’ which examines the
potential of biofuel farms. In ‘You and Your Garbage (and Me and
Mine),’ Elizabeth Royte offers realistic tips for reducing waste.
Some may remember Yoga + as Yoga International;
the magazine changed its title in late summer. — Suzanne
Lindgren

It
looks so unassuming, the Fall issue of
Open
City
, with its four-color scheme and simple design. One
could hardly believe that the pages within are comprised of
engaging stories and riveting words. In perusing it, readers may
laugh out loud at a comic tale or gape at a nonfiction account of a
horrific experience. In a hilarious and self-reflective tribute to
error (‘Typochondria’), Priscilla Becker discusses the horror of
sending her poems off to respected publications such as Open
City
, only to have them maimed in one form or another. This
issue (No. 22) carries a novel layout — the fiction runs one way
while the nonfiction comes from the other direction, upside down.
The two genres meet about two-thirds of the way through, with the
fiction taking the greater portion, adding another layer to the
playful qualities of the book. — Suzanne Lindgren

The
September/October issue of
The
Humanist
, a bimonthly magazine of philosophical and social
criticism, features ‘Soldier Girl? Not every Tamil Teen Wants to be
a Tiger.’ The article by James A. Mitchell examines the life of a
young girl trained at the age of 11 to fight for the separatist
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and shows her struggle to live as
a child. Mitchell explains that with the failure of the 2002
ceasefire agreement in Sri Lanka, young Tamil girls are
increasingly being recruited and trained to fight. The conflict,
Mitchell says, has become a Children’s War, one that this girl
wants to see end. ‘We need peace, not fighting,’ she says. —
Jenna Fisher

When
Rivet landed in our library, I chuckled at
its name, wondering if it meant the little metal fasteners or the
entrancing verb. I picked it up and immediately realized it was the
latter. The Seattle quarterly, which has grown from zine to
magazine status in the last couple of years, introduces new
nonfiction, fiction, poetry, photography, and graphic art in
fabulous, bright ways. The latest edition, dubbed the Action Issue,
contains articles such as ‘The Ten List,’ which lists ten quirky
action facts (‘Hamsters can have sex up to 75 times a day’), and
‘Gridlock City’s Caped Commuter,’ in which Kathryn Lebo describes
the city’s real-life communitng superhero. The pieces kept a smile
on my face and the pages turning. — Jenna Fisher

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