STANDARDS' Signet of Excellence

STANDARDS' Best of the Small Presses Award

 

We at STANDARDS are honored to pay tribute to Many Mountains Moving: A Journal of Diverse Literary Voices, a world-class small press publication run by Naomi Horii in Boulder, Colorado.

Now entering its sixth year, Many Mountains Moving has produced eight issues of outstanding original literary works, from both new and well-recognized authors around the world. Each — in design, structure, and cover art, but most especially in content — is a scintillating literary achievement. It is, in the best of the tradition, a true "little magazine," with nonprofit status and a relatively small, but avidly involved circulation, akin to the first efforts in this arena of the twentieth century: Poetry, edited by Harriet Monroe, with Ezra Pound as Foreign Editor; The Little Review, edited by Margaret Anderson; and the successful Dial, edited by Marianne Moore through the 1920s. The difference here is, not unexpectedly, "difference," itself. While the early "little magazines" were viewed as intellectual hotbeds for leftist thought and innovative writing styles, Many Mountains Moving joins the best of the new century, by focusing on not only a diverse range of excellence in literary styles, but on the complex elements of culture — nations, ethncities, economics, religions, and lifestyles — which underpin those styles.

As part of our tribute to this fine publication, we are proud to present our readers with selected reprints from the five-year catalog of titles previously appearing in Many Mountains Moving. Here, for the first time on the internet, are some representative samplings from the award-winning journal.

 

In the category of Fiction, we are pleased to introduce our readers to nine of the most engaging short story writers from the MMM pages. From Diana Abu-Jaber is the powerful novel excerpt, "Hindee," which treats the subject of transgressions — physical, national, familial. The complexities of family life is also a central motif in the other works within the Fiction category: Carolyn Alessio's "Artichoke Hearts" paints a portrait of a sister and brother — both broken, both survivors — studying one another at a moment of change. Swiss writer Patricia Ammann renders saucy, impertinent, and deeply provocative female narrators, in her novel excerpt, "The Gift," a charged exploration of family and relationships, and in "The Jacket," the story of a failing marriage. The deliciously sensual and emotive short story "Shoes," by Deborah Batterman provides a scintillating view of a Jewish daughter attempting to establish a "woman to woman" relationship with her mother. In her "Expecting Nothing in Return," Bangladesh author Maimuna Dali gives a searing treatment of communal intersections, childhood perceptions, and family secrets. Mary Park, in "The Iron Lung Girl," shapes a glimpse into the teasingly frank and often ironical ways in which adolescents view themselves, each other, and their parents. Filipino author Michael Ramos blends personal family history into his story of war and persistence, "When the Soldier Sleeps in the Field". David Sims crafts a tense run-away first-person monologue sparked by domestic violence, in "Babe," and the protagonist of WD Wetherell's "How Bad Things Are" is a children's books illustrator who, after judging a local school art show, concludes: I have looked at the drawings done by your daughters, your sons and grandsons. I see by their evidence that things are a lot worse even than I thought.

 

Family complexities are the themes, too, of the titles we've selected for our First Person category of personal narratives. Here, the non-fiction prose stylings of award-winning author Jonathan Holden brings us the incisive essay "American Anaesthetics"; and Esteban Martinez provides a shocking inquiry into filial bonds and domestic violence, in his "Death of a Hero."

 

In Poetry, a host of works on an array of complex topics await the reader. The two selections by Kim Addonizio demonstrate this poet's range in style and consistent quality: "Good Girl" is a cheeky indictment of suburban ennui, while "The Story" grafts an indelible account of horror and the grappling for understanding and assurance. From popular author Sherman Alexie, we present the irony and undistilled grace of his poems, "Owl Dancing with Fred Astaire," How to Remodel the Interior of a Catholic Church," and "What We Notice, What We Miss." From one of Mexico's finest poets, Homero Aridjis, there is the smooth beauty of "This Black Stone," while Latino poet Rane Arroyo troubles the water with a meditation on death, in "Little Joe."

One of the most shocking pieces in this series of reprints is Laure-Anne Bosselaar's "The Pallor of Survival," which first appeared in the Many Mountains Moving volume titled "Burning Issues" — the edition which also included the essay here by Esteban Martinez; the poem by Rane Arroyo; and Kim Addonizio's "The Story."

Of similar intensity are Christopher Bursk's poem "Foster Child"; Elizabeth Rosner's "My Father's Souvenirs"; and the horrifyingly magical poem, "Wishbone," by Richard Siken.

Many Mountains Moving is, generally speaking, a sharp-witted and kinetic venue, for both writers and readers, from the (in)delicate insouciance of the poem "I Recite the Dialogue of My Life to the Man I Love," by Jim Elledge to the passion, revelry, and despair in works such as the two poems, "The Beer Joint" and "Masons" by Bruce A. Jacobs.

A man comes to understand the difficulty of ever comprehending the ordeal of mastectomy for women, in Patrick Lawler's "Isis, The Mother of Unraveling and Flowers, Gives Her Milk to Rachel Rosenthal." With "Dawn," Carol Mahler speaks to the visage of death, while the two selections, "How I Got Here" and "Lot's Wife to Her Therapist" by Christal McDougall contemplate the complexities of single parenting and the "time-honored" universality of child sexual abuse, respectively (and, most strongly, respectfully).

Rusty Morrison's "Teaching About the Hungry Woman" employs voice and characterization to sustain enduring questions, while the answers come in the form of thoughtful indictments, in Ayyappa Paniker's "Passage to America." Similarly, the two poems by K. Satchidanandan, "How Spring Arrived This Year" and "My Body, a City" reference a body politic as yet unresolved but, through poetry, resolving. A different, but not dissonant, political view informs Barry Silesky's "Celebration."

There is no gentle posturing in the imagist recitations of Alison Stone's "Sea Song," nor in Sarah Wolbach's "Bathing Susan" — both generous cants of survival, though very differently toned. The strength of "Beadwork," by Natalie Sudman is perhaps most powerfully derived from the desert milieu and its inhabitants, while the taut language skills of Karen Swenson in "Word Power" and "Belief" brilliantly befit the subject matter of gender socialization, and the wordplay from Martha G. Wiseman, in "Aftermath" makes of the poem's title a rapier pun.

Finally, there are those poems whose subjects are most directly language and writing, itself. Among our favorites, we've selected "Object," by Ray Gonzalez; Yusef Komunyakaa's "Unframing the Tryptich"; Elizabeth Rosner's "gravity"; and "After Saigon," by Walter McDonald — seamless works, every one.

 

We invite you to peruse the fine samplings from Many Mountains Moving, to discover why this small press publication has most deservedly earned our Tenth Anniversary Issue Tribute.

 

 

 


 

For ordering information on the print version of Many Mountains Moving, visit their web site, or contact the STANDARDS offices at the link provided below.

Original Graphic Image, "STANDARDS' Signet of Excellence" © 2000 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal


Reviews © 2000 by Canéla Analucinda Jaramillo

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