Literary minded

Did you know that Portland State has a literary journal that publishes writing from around the world? No? Well you should, because the Portland Review is putting out work that deserves to be read.

Did you know that Portland State has a literary journal that publishes writing from around the world? No? Well you should, because the Portland Review is putting out work that deserves to be read.

“You wouldn’t believe some of the submissions we get. We published a poet from Beaumont, Texas last year, and now he submits stuff almost every day. He likes to decorate the envelopes with Victoria’s Secret ads for some reason. For a while he sent in pictures of his wife sitting on the couch with their cat,” Patrick Haas, editor of Portland Review said in an e-mail.

The Review is part of the student publications here at Portland State. Along with other campus publications, including the Vanguard, the journal is funded by student fees, and is operated exclusively by students.

The Portland Review is published three times a year and includes a variety of work, such as poetry, fiction and photography. The publication has been around since 1956, and according to the review’s Web site, their mission is “to promote and inspire new authors, while maintaining strict editorial standards allows us to bring our readers fresh and innovative works with every issue.”

But, that mission hasn’t just been sitting around stagnant since the 50’s. Every year there is a new editor, and each editor brings a little something different to the table. For Haas, the focus is on bringing more non-fiction into the journal.

“It’s as relevant an art form as any other type (poetry/fiction, etc.) and the essay has been around forever. Nonfiction seems to be really popular right now, so I don’t see why we wouldn’t want to include it in our publication,” Haas said.

Submissions for the Journal are accepted from September through May and from a wide range of sources.

“Anyone can submit,” said Haas, “PSU students can submit. Non-PSU students can submit. Men, women, unpublished, heavily published, whatever. We get stuff from all over the world as well. There’s no preference for who or where the writer comes from.”

For PSU students though, the Portland Review offers more than just a chance to get published, it also offers them a chance to get involved in the publishing process. The average submission, according to Haas, goes through a number of readings before it is accepted for the journal, and a good chunk of those readthroughs are done by PSU students.

Through a one-credit English course, students can involve themselves in the editorial process. The course, which is a study group, meets to review and discuss submissions for the magazine. In the end, Haas makes the final decision, but he says, “The readers are a huge help, and if someone feels really passionate about a certain piece and can make a good argument for it, it will more than likely go in the journal.”

Student volunteers are key to the process, Haas said. They end up helping out with mailings, including rejection letters, and other tasks that are part of production. This year there are 17 students helping with the process, and they work hard, according to Haas. But they could use more help.

“It’d be great to have a marketing team to set up a reading and increase advertising/distribution. I’m creating a small team of volunteer copy editors for this next issue.”

The final product of that Haas and his volunteer’s produce is definitely worthy of praise. Thanks to the help of the Graphic Design Center, the latest issue is more visually intriguing than a lot of other literary journals. The cover features a myriad of heads with enigmatic facial expressions. And thanks to the hard work of Haas and his team, the writing inside stands out as well.

A piece written by Christopher Chambers, “Natchez”, is the incredibly short and concise story of two people drifting apart. The tension is completely developed and effective, especially for such a short piece. The poem by Allen Kellerstrass entitled “The Catalogue of Surrogates” has some truly wonderful imagery and just the right blend of irony, humor and sweetness.

The journal also features the photography of Courtney Romann, whose “Swan in Shattered Glass” photo demands, and deserves, attention.

Haas said that because of printing costs, the editors of the Portland Review try and keep each issue between 115 and 130 pages, but at just $9, that still a bargain that shouldn’t be passed up.

The Portland Review is available for purchase at various retailers in Portland, including the PSU bookstore and Powell’s Books. For more information and to contact Review editor Patrick Haas, visit