Writer’s Craft: My Favorite Literary Journal Pieces I Read in January 2022

Magazine spread with a femme-presenting person on the left page and text on the right. A pair of black glasses is to the right and a bowl of fresh fruit is to the left.
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

It’s not only a good idea to write a lot in order to improve your writing. Being a writer means you have to be a reader, too. So I push myself to read as many books and literary magazines that I feasibly can, even if it ends up only being once piece from an issue or collection.

Keep in mind that just because I read it in 2022 doesn’t mean it was published in 2022 or even in a recent issue. My TBR pile knows no publication dates.

“Virgo Moon” by Kelsey Day (The Athena Review)

“Virgo Moon” caught my attention mostly because I’m a Virgo sun. Egotistical? It’s possible.

In 2021, I began writing poems based off of my daily horoscopes and other readings as a way to generate new poems. In this poem, I particularly admired how Day mixes algae and soap in a mason jar in the second stanza. To me, a lot of this reflects how those with Virgo placements have a need for cleanliness and order, while also honoring Appalachian culture. The power of the last stanza confronts the complicated nature of feeling lonely, even when surrounded by those who adore and love you. For these reasons and more, a PDF file of this poem will be saved in my “Poems I Like” folder in Google Drive.

“False Ancestry” by Yvanna Vien Tica (perhappened mag)

This one spoke to me as a teacher and how we need to always consider every student’s experience in the classroom. “False Ancestry” focuses on a family tree project in third grade, purposefully destroyed and forgotten by the speaker. Except that their history follows them, even at home where they are supposed to feel safe and comforted. The rest of the poem tells how the World War II unit textbook transformed into origami and hours spent in speech therapy and the pressure to assimilate to a culture not of their own. I think this poem would be great paired alongside Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.

“Noisetalgia” by MArta špoljar (Lavender Bones Magazine, Issue One)

My little OCD heart connected heavily with this poem. “Noisetalgia” is not explicitly about compulsions or OCD tendencies, but the imagery reminds me so much of the pure panic you feel over things being out of place. In this case, it is a heartbreaking reminder of how trying to forget pain can morph into routines that demolish your sense of self-worth. Into the Google Drive folder you go, little poem.

Have suggestions of what I can read next? I’m always willing to check out new magazines and projects, so don’t be shy.

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