Thank You

Thank you for the awesome support for Issue VI of Four Ties Lit Review. We have been humbled by the response to our open call for submissions. 4Ties received over 550 submissions, a more then 25% increase over Issue V. We count each one as a vote of confidence from our literary community. There was quite a last minute crush of submissions and our editors are working hard to carefully read every single one. We’ll continue to issue updates as the process proceeds and start sending emails out to submitters in early July.  Once again thank you for the support and we can’t wait to get Issue VI to our readers.

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Only One Day Left!

Our Open Submission period closes tomorrow at midnight, there’ll be no extensions. Get your submissions in as soon as you can. This is going to be a great issue of 4Ties.

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Well We’ve Gone and Done It Again

We surpassed our previous high for the number of submissions to 4Ties for an issue. The totals will be nicely impressive. Thank you for all the encouraging support. We will continue to be open to submissions until Friday the 16th at midnight so get those last minute submissions to us. We can’t wait to read yours.


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Updates: There’s only one week left!

Our Open Submission period is coming to an end. You only have 7 days left. Get those last minute submissions in now. We’ll close to submissions on June 16th.

We’ve gone over 400 submissions for Issue VI. Thank you for all the wonderful support and all the great writing and pieces of art. This is going to be a great issue of 4Ties!

Our latest review of Luisa Iglora’s Chapbooks. “haori” and “Check and Balance” are now a permanent part of the 4Ties book review section, review by Abby Brunt.

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To Contemplate the World in all its Many Forms:

a review of Luisa Igloria’s Haori and Check & Balance

By Abby Brunt

“What I glean of hunger is/its wild sound, wind that ratchets/ through the hollows”, Luisa Igloria writes in her new chapbook Haori.  Indeed, hunger fills the poems in this chapbook, heady with longing and desire, offering reminders that all life is fleeting.  Questions surface and nudge, in Igloria’s probing quiet voice that asks and wants all the while expecting no answer, knowing there isn’t one to be found, a fact that in Haori is both melancholic and comforting.  “Sometimes all I want is/for the cistern to take my coin,/for the fountain to answer”.  Yet even as Igloria longs for certainty, for a coin that can be given in exchange for knowledge, she also knows such desires have a price and cautions, “Don’t linger/in the bath that certain evenings/ draw you into: all melancholy, all/purple shade and stupefying incense” because it is the fleetingness of life that also gives it its spontaneity and pleasure. “Come eat and stain your mouth” for life is “to want everything,/deplore the wanting, then plunge/a whole hand into the bowl anyway.”

The title Haori is a Japanese word for a kimono like-jacket and the chapbook’s title poem gives perspective on this choice as “the body at its base swells/ inside its sleeve a little more each day.”  Despite its small container, Haori feels much broader in scope as it contemplates the larger metaphysical spaces that defy human understanding through focus on the smaller physical elements of closer observation — a dragonfly with its “iridescent pennants” and the “tiny signatures of insects affixed/to the door jamb”.  Small details weave themselves together to form the fabric of this present world, while the “Arguments with Destiny” – the title of the main body section of Haori, which makes up the majority of the book – remain mysteries to encounter and uncover.  As “the stars/being so far away, no longer/see the need to pass judgment” neither do Igloria’s poems, which instead “live in the eloquent gaps of contradiction/which spurn and enchant at every turn.”

In addition to Haori, Igloria has also published another smaller chapbook Check & Balance, which differs entirely both in scope and toneWhile Haori is contemplative, full of longing and hunger that circles back and around on itself, Check & Balance is more direct and linear, grounded as it is in the more immediate and frankly abysmal political reality.  There are no “gaps of contradiction” here, but that’s because Check & Balance serves a more specific and immediate purpose of protest and there’s no time for open-ended contemplation “when a man shouts Get out/of my country and open fires on two brown/ men sharing beers”.  The one exception to this more straightforward tone is the poem “Rondo: Dying World”, which is more contemplative like Haori and while the poem in and of itself deftly weaves image and language together to create a beautiful flow on the page, its more meandering pace makes it feel a little out of place in the collection as a whole.

Yet, despite the ugliness of the current political situation, Check & Balance ends on a redemptive note.  The title poem closes this collection with a picture of humanity’s better urges as people come together to help a man injured in an accident — “the movement of hands/and bodies wanting to save”.  For everything that needs to be checked, there’s also balance, for every evil, a good deed, too.

Igloria’s new chapbooks, though very different in what they seek to cover and convey, both offer necessary elements.  We need reminders, especially now, to step back, contemplate, listen and ask the unanswerable, while also stepping forward to look at the ugliness full on and demand that kindness and justice prevail. In their very separate ways, both Haori and Check & Balance push boundaries and ask for a broader perspective and an inclusive world, one that we can all question and in which we can all live.

Haori was published by Tea & Tattered Pages c. 2017

Check & Balance was published by Locofo Chaps (an imprint of Moria Books) c. 2017

Luisa A. Igloria has published thirteen books of poetry, including Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (2015) which won the 2014 May Swenson Prize and Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009) which won the Ernest Sandeen Prize.  Most recently, she won the 2015 Resurgence Prize, which was the world’s first major award for ecopoetry.  Prior to Haori and Check & Balance, her most recent chapbook was Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press echapbook selection for Spring 2015).  She is on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she also directed from 2009-2015.







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Check It Out

Interview with Four Ties Lit Review Editor / Founder Matthew W Larrimore

on “Six Questions For” writer Jim Harrinton’s project to chronicle what editors want for their publications.

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Update and Our Newest Review

More than a thousand visitors have been perused the pages of 4Ties in the month of May and we’re over 300 submissions for Issue VI. Thank you for the support and keep those submissions coming. We are in need of a few more art submissions so if you know of an artist looking for publication please let them know.

Our latest book review is now a permanent page on 4Ties!  Viet Thanh Nguyen continues his journey into the lives of refugees in The Refugees, review by Margo McCall.

Book Review: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Expect another new review “Haori” by poet Luisa Igoria later this week!

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Book Review: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

In The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen continues his exploration of war’s effect on Vietnam and its people. The characters in these eight intimate, densely woven stories are scarred in a multitude of ways, psychologically damaged from their traumas, yet doggedly soldiering on in their daily struggle to survive in a strange land.

There’s a ghostwriter drawn to telling other people’s stories of trauma while at the same time ignoring her own. That is, until, the ghost of her brother, killed twenty-five years ago by pirates, appears in the living room, dripping seawater on the carpet.

The war’s effects are many. An obsessed storekeeper battles an anti-Communist neighborhood woman until the neighbor’s impoverished living conditions prompt the storekeeper to surrender. An Alzheimer-ridden former oceanography professor drifts back to pre-war times, confusing his wife with a former lover in the process. And a disaffected young man born in a refugee camp doesn’t want to have children because he’s afraid he’ll turn out like his authoritarian father.

These characters are recognizable, at least on the surface. The shopkeepers and security guards and other hard-working Vietnamese immigrants that are part of the multicultural kaleidoscope of many American cities. But the window Nguyen opens into their lives is intimate. He shares what happens after they go home and close their doors.

Time has become as corrupted as these characters’ psyches. Decades after they crossed oceans in flimsy boats, or huddled in refugee camps, the experiences are still present. They rarely speak of what they’ve been through, for to do so would bring the horror out of the shadows and into the daylight.

Although the Vietnamese refugees—2 million between 1978 and 1995—escaped with few material possessions, they brought their culture and cuisine. Nguyen is a very sensual writer, his descriptions of dried fish, chilis, fish sauce and black tiger shrimp offering a fragrant and satisfying counterbalance to the emptiness of dislocation.

Love also binds the characters in this collection. It’s a tough love, borne of survival. What seems like cruelty has a sweet undercurrent. The wife called by a former lover’s name recalls how her husband guided them across “the great azure plain of the sea, unbroken to the horizon,” without ever raising his voice. The penny-pinching shopkeeper compassionately donates to the neighborhood woman once she sees the woman lives in crowded squalor.

None of the characters in these short stories are living the American Dream. Some inhabit houses with barred windows. One character works two jobs, changing uniforms in the parking lot and rarely sleeping. In the new land, the oceanographer can only get a job teaching ESL, although he’s still called the professor. And in “The Americans,” family left behind in Vietnam envy relatives who escaped, until they realize the stories of material success are just lies.

Although not thriving materially or psychologically, at least they are physically safe. But the damage suffered as they fled their country seems irrevocable. They are still moving about in the world, continuing their battles for survival, but in many ways, are the walking dead.

The spotlight Nguyen shines on his characters’ lives serves to illuminate the extent of the damage, individual by individual, as well as the long journey toward recovery. Dedicated “for all refugees, everywhere,” the timing of this collection couldn’t be more apt. There have been dozens of refugee crises since Vietnam, and there are dozens unfolding as we speak: Syria, Yemen, Haiti, Guatemala, South Sudan. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates the world refugee population at 20 million.

Born in Vietnam and now the Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, Nguyen is the author of The Sympathizers, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the nonfiction books Nothing Ever Dies and Race and Resistance.

Margo McCall is a Southern California fiction writer. For more, visit


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Update and a New Feature

We’re less than halfway through our open submission period and we’ve received over 200 submissions for issue VI! There were over 3500 pages viewed by 1100 visitors from the last week in April through last week. Thank you for the support. We still have some new book reviews and a couple of new features to debut before the new issue.

The first new feature is a database of literary awards…

Many question the value of literary awards. Our community is flush with acts of literary genius just from last few years/decades, not to mention the centuries-old history of English publication. There is always something important/amazing that we still haven’t read yet. But tastes change and keeping abreast of the most current trends in what is seen as the current pinnacle in writing is of great import to many writers and readers.

Worldwide there are hundreds of literary awards and prizes, so many that not only is it impossible to keep track of who has won which award in the last year but anticipating even the major awards takes a serious act of calendar and schedule keeping.  However, being ignorant of who the award winners are or having your knowledge subject to random acts of the fickle media seems unacceptable. So we here at 4Ties felt it behooved us and would be a service to our audience to keep track of at least when the major awards were given and who their current winners are.

We’ve started off with the major American Literary Awards linked here. We’ve captured just a few to start. There are so many awards in just this limited category it’ll take us several updates to achieve a comprehensive list. We’ll update you as the list grows.

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Submissions & New Work from a Favorite Author

We received our 150th submission on day 12 of our open submission period.  Thank you for the support! We are busy reading these early submissions and like what we’re seeing. Please keep them coming; we are open to submissions unit June 16th. If you’re wondering if 4Ties is the right place for your work, check out Issue 5 Volume 1 and our archive of previous issues as well as our Editorial Statement. We’re sure you’ll like what you see. Here are our submission guidelines, or you can visit our Submittable page to submit right away.


If you missed it, we made the review of “Strange Company,” the new book from 4Ties author Jean Ryan, part of our permanent reviews.  You can find previous work by Ryan in 4Ties:  “Chasing Zero” appears in Issue 1 Volume 2, “Lovers & Loaners” is in Issue 4 Volume 1, as well as a review of her earlier book “Survival Skills.” And check out our Interview with Ryan too. We’re very proud to be a small part of an author’s larger success.  If you are or know of a 4Ties author with other publications in the works, contact us.


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