With a nod going out to the redoubtable Rain Taxi, whose continued existence seems to contradict every accepted truth about today's publishing industry, this year we recognize an equally unlikely literary endeavor, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics. As that title suggests, there's an academic bent to this journal--its editor is St. Catherine professor Mark Nowak--and the thing doesn't always make easy reading. The latest issue, for instance, is titled "Voyage/Voyageur/Voyeur"--which is the kind of falsely evocative wordplay that inspires fear in the reader. What speaks better for XCP is its ambition: With ethnographic articles about world culture, essays on artistic theory, free-verse poetry, and erudite book reviews, this 150-page-long semiannual publication (which costs $10 at your better bookstores, or $18 for a year's subscription) aspires to be an avant-garde Granta. That's a noble mission and a fine addition to the literary landscape.


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