From its colophon, “American Chordata seeks to publish and promote short works of exceptional fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as art and photography.” And from my brief experience with it, that’s pretty much what I found…

There are a few NSFW images in the zine.

I’m actually quite looking forward to digging into this and reading some contemporary fiction & poetry, and some random nonfiction too. The photographs are mostly snapshot-type pictures of people & flowers, colorful, imprecisely focused, and lit by harsh on-camera flash, and fitting, in my mind, to the overall aesthetic focus of the magazine…. maybe I should actually read some before I comment…

So American Chordata #2 has been on the nightstand for nigh-on a week, and I’ve read a fair amount of it. I’m about halfway through a short story about a schoolteacher in some future time when spontaneous human combustion is a regular occurrence. During standardized tests, she walks around with a fire extinguisher. I’m interested to see how it ends, but I don’t want to give it away, so I won’t finish it before posting this…

Mostly, it’s been poems and photographs so far. I don’t know much about poetry. Sure, I had the Prufrock memorized at one point, and still remember a fair amount, and I have quite a few Ginsberg books, and I used to write some wretched teenage poetry when I was a teenager, even went and did open mike night at a coffee house a few times back in the early 1990s. (I got up one night and read, if I recall, Ginsberg’s ‘Please Master‘ to a crowd of late-teen/early-20s crowd that had probably never read Howl even. Ah, the days of ignorance, and may Allah forgive me.) But all that was long ago, before the music, before the painting, before the Art History & Criticism MA, and about two decades before I got into photography, so I can’t really comment on the poems, much, except to say that the beat poets left their mark and blank verse, irregular meter, etc. are all on full display.

The pictures are mostly decent, and pretty much as described above. I’m not sure how to comment on photography much: I know what I like, and I’m starting to figure out why I like it, but I don’t really have the intellectual or critical skill to comment with any more thoroughness than I already have. So far, I’m really enjoying American Chordata #2. I have a bit of a soft spot for these small, start-up journal-type magazines. I was a bit late to the zine party, and so these things are great, imo. PDF copies are available free in low and high res, and print copies remain available for $16 at time of writing, so if you’re interested, go get one before they’re gone!

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