Running a literary journal without the support of an institution of higher learning makes about as much financial sense as running a hot-chocolate stand in July. Nothing ruins literature quite as much as financial sense, though, and Conduit— "grant free since 1993" as it says in the masthea—is another testament to bookish dreamers and their labors of love. Punkish in spirit and broad of mind, Conduit is ideal for folks who equally love Johnny Thunders and John Ashbery. In other words, the mag eschews convention and bogus seriousness alike. Even the pagination is askew—look not for numbers but for words arranged alphabetically. So in last fall's 17th issue, "Holy Hootenanny: Human Music," you'll find Amanda Nadelberg's affecting, comically discursive poem "Feivel" on page "piccolo," and Jesse Ball's Pynchonian manual, "A Method for Waylayers and Other Like Sorts Written by L. for Practical Use," on page "rattle." Conduit mostly publishes poetry, plus some experimental prose, but wisely lets the reader do the categorizing. Sometimes it's just a matter of line breaks, anyway, and maybe the best way to get prose fans to read poetry and vice versa is to blur the boundaries. For its interviews, the journal usually looks beyond lit, talking to artists from other fields, academics, and other thinkers. Instead of more shop-talk about whether a novelist writes three or six hours per day, then, you get guitarist Marc Ribot examining music as ritual. Conduit is further enlivened by artwork by such idiosyncratic talents as photographer Suzy Poling and Mekon/renaissance man Jon Langford. If none of that seems quite up your alley, Conduit is just one of several worthy homegrown literary publications, an honor roll of obscurity that includes Hamline's Water-Stone Review, the plucky Spout, Rain Taxi Review of Books, and the University of Minnesota's increasingly impressive Dislocate.


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