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Published December 08, 2008
West Branch Editor Paula Closson Buck introduces a few new names to the publication starting with this latest issue - Fall/Winter 2008. New Advisory Editors include Shara McCallum, Chris Camuto, Deidre O'Connor, Robert Rosenberg, and G. C. Waldrep. Dinty Moore will become a contributing editor drumming up creative nonfiction submissions. And a new feature from Contributing Editor Garth Greenwell will be the annual column "To a Green Thought" - this issue includes the first installment: "Beauty's Canker: On Jorie Grahma." (Linked because it's generously available full-text on the WB site.)
Published December 01, 2008
I am absolutely NOT a shopper, let alone a holiday shopper. Ugh! So, my suggestion to help save time and gas, avoid the crowds, and support independent publishing? The coolest, easiest, bestest gift you could possibly give this holiday season:


Visit the links on NewPages Guide to Literary Magazines and NewPages Guide to Alternative Magazines. Most mags are set up to take payments online, but there is also still time to print an order form and get it sent in. Some mags even offer a discount gift subscription if you get one for yourself as well. (Replies from mags offering this are welcome on this blog!)

Given the price of some of the mags, you could even mix and match a couple - maybe an annual with a quarterly, an alternative mag and a literary mag, one poetry and one fiction mag - the creative possibilities are endless!

Don't think anyone on your list would "appreciate" this idea? (Well, first of all, get some new people on your list!) Then "gift" yourself a subscription or two, tell others it's what you want if they insist on buying you something, send a subscription to your local high school creative writing teacher, library, senior center, shelter, teen center, prison, political official who could use (more) poetry, etc.

'Tis always the season to support lit/alt mags!
Published November 24, 2008
The newest issue of Mississippi Review is a stunner for those of us who love our literary magazines, and a must have, must keep issue for its importance of historical literary record. No need to wait until later to say how integral this issue is; it’s clear from the moment you hold it in your hands. The issue is themed "Literary Magazines" and includes four parts:

Part One: The Literary Magazine Today
An Interview with Antioch Review Editor Robert Fogarty by Gary Percesepe
Reasons for Creating a New Literary Magazine by Jill Allyn Rosser, Editor of New Ohio Review
A Roundtable on the Contemporary Literary Magazine with Jill Allyn Rosser, New Ohio Review; Speer Morgan, The Missouri Review; Marco Roth, N+1; Raymond Hammond, The New York Quarterly; Todd Zuniga, Opium Magazine; Eli Horowiz, McSweeney’s; Aaron Burch, Hobart
Some Comments by Herbert Leibowitz
The Changing Shape of Literary Magazines; or “What the Hell is This Thing?” by Jodee Stanley, Editor of Ninth Letter
Comments on the Literary Magazine by Richard Burgin

Part Two: The Editors Introduce
“MR asked the editors contributing to this issue to introduce a writer they have published that they found particularly exciting, working in new and interesting ways, or otherwise deserving of more attention.” In this, you’ll find works by Claire Bateman, John Brandon, Daniel Grandbois, Rene Houtrides, John Leary, Maureen McCoy, B. R. Smith, and Catherine Zeidler.

Part Three: Writers on Lit Mags
Explanatory enough. Contributors include: Jane Armstrong, T.C. Boyle, Mary Grimm, Victoria Lancelotta, Rick Moody, Benjamin Percy, Stacey Richter, Jim Shepard, and James Whorton, Jr.

Part Four: Lit Mag Miscellany
Includes quotes about lit mags, a perspective and history on the contributor bio, and notes on the history of lit mags.

All I can say is I can’t remember when I was ever disappointed about an upcoming holiday because I felt as though spending time with family would take away from my reading time. . . but it is a long car ride north, so I might just be able to fit it all in.
Published October 20, 2008
Calls for Submissions was recently updated. If you have a CFS you'd like to see posted, e-mail me:

Also updated - The Magazine Stand - featuring sponsored print and online lit mags as well as a list of links to all mags received. Want your publication listed here? Then send print copies (NewPages, POB 1580, Bay City, MI 48706) or a notice of new online editions (
Published September 25, 2008
Flipping through the Spring 2008 issue of Florida Review, I came across a few items of note. I see Billy Collins has two poems in this issue. He'd previously sent his work to FR and been published, and it raised a question about how lit mags deal with "really famous writers" sending in their work. Do they get picked because they're famous and will help to promote/sell the magazine? Or do they get picked on the merit of their work? In which case, they'd be as likely to not get picked, right? I've had a lot of conversations with a lot of editors about this situation, and even though I hear them say it's about the merit of the work, there's always a footnote of commentary about how it helps the magazine. That is the business end of the literature, though. There is also a different level of scrutiny on the authors - to be well known and published raises this question, sort of like doping in sports - to achieve is to be suspect. Even famous poets get rejected. Sounds like a good title for something. I'm not saying anything about the quality of Collins' work in this publication, just commenting on the situation.

I'm also pleased to see FR include a couple comics, one by Jeffery Brown and one by Rachel and Beverly Luria. It's a lot to dedicate as many pages to a comic as they need to tell their story, but a trend I hope to see more of in other lit mags.

And lastly, just a nod to Lisa K. Buchanan, a once-upon-a-time reviewer for NewPages. She's got a nonfiction piece in here, "Tips for the Busy Conversationalist." It's an intense exploration that plays well with the self-help style. Nod.
Published September 07, 2008
In the Editor's Note of the most recent ZYZZYVA, Howard Junker announces his intent to retire from the magazine, which is now seeking his successor, someone who "will have to be different, will have to take a new direction, because the times have changed." The informal job description Junker gives draws upon a response he once gave to a Paris Review Questionnaire about "the key ingredients needed to keep a literary magazine afloat." Junker writes: "Taking its editor George Plimpton as my model, I declared: An independent income is the basic flotation device. Having the office in the editor's basement reduces rent and the editor's commute. Also helpful because, even if the budget remains modest, attracting money is key: good looks, charm, guts, a thick skin, a sense of humor, a good work ethic, luck, and the ability to spot and nurture talent." Sound like anybody you know? If so, Junker closes his editorial: "If you have someone in mind, please let me know."
Published September 06, 2008
The all-fiction issue of The Antioch Review is out. Editor Robert Fogarty comments on the subtitle "Difficult Choices" - about the range of difficult choices faced by the submissions (aka slush) readers. Their choice, which often involves "the dreaded 'r' word" becomes what Fogarty refers to as the Key Question: "Should we publish this story or should we encourage to writer to send on another, better story?" Better than saying the story is rejected, I like Fogarty's perspective of encouragement, which promotes the concept a writers community - a reason why so many people got into publishing lit mags in the first place.

Being responsive to their writers, Fogarty says they must make a "firm and quick judgement about a story" - but there is no doubt they are also good at what they do, with a number of their fiction writers having received awards and placement in "best of" collections. "I expect," Fogarty writes, "that several of the writers included in this issue will in the future make a 'best' list." That kind of comment makes it no difficult choice at all to pick up this mag and give it a look see!
Published August 25, 2008
decomP is an online literary magazine that is updated monthly. decomP has been in existence since April 2004 and was originally called Decomposition Magazine. Contributors range from all over the country, and recently, an increased fan base in places like London and Scotland. decomP publish prose, poetry, art, and solicited book reviews. decomP is currently open for submissions.

River Teeth is a biannual creative nonfiction journal co-edited by Joe Mackall and Dan Lehman with the assistance of students in the low-residency MFA program at Ashland University. Founded in 1999, River Teeth combines the best of creative nonfiction, including narrative reportage, essays, and memoirs, as well as critical essays that examine the genre and that explore the impact of nonfiction narrative on the lives of its writers, subjects, and readers. River Teeth is currently open for submissions.
Published August 24, 2008
The most recent issue of Spoon River Poetry Review includes an interesting commentary from Editor Bruce Guernsey on the inclusion or not of contributors notes in a literary publication. (And is it contributors / contributor's / contributors' - I've seen all of these!)

Bruce Guernsey addresses SRPR's choice to omit these notes - I would recommend your picking up the most recent issue to read his comments in full. In less than two pages, he succinctly and thoroughly discusses the practical issue of space in a print publication as well as the "symbolic" issue of wanting readers to focus on the poem rather than "the celebrity mentality that infects the current poetry scene." Though Guernsey admits he is just as guilty of going to contributors notes "in this all-too-competitive market world" to see "where so-and-so has recently published."

Interestingly enough, a SRPR reader sent in an e-mail saying contributors notes help know where else to find an author's work. And my response to this was the same as Guernsey's: "Look on the Internet." It does seem to be the knee-jerk response to any question we have these days, and it's Guernsey's comment on this that I found most poignant: "...given the sources we now have on the Internet, that information can almost always be easily found online. Speed and information go well together. It's poetry, that primitive technology, which is slow going and belongs in journals and books - when we can't be there to hear it, anyway."
Published August 19, 2008
"The Normal School is a bi-annual journal featuring nonfiction, fiction, poetry, criticism and culinary adventure journalism. We are nestled happily into the California State University at Fresno like a comfy spore in a benign and mighty lung. We dig quirky, boundary-challenging, energetic prose and poetry with innovations in content, form, and focus, which isn’t actually as high-falutin’ as it sounds. We’re just sort of the lit mag equivalent of the kid who always has bottle caps, cat’s eye marbles, dead animal skulls, little blue men and other treasures in his pockets."

The Normal School accepts submissions of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, criticism, culinary adventure journalism, and video and audio essays. No previously published works, sim/subs okay.

Subscriptions are $20 for for two years (4 issues) and can be ordered online using PayPal. Single issues are $7 each.

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