Readers and writers will be delighted to discover Arboreal Literary Magazine, a quarterly of poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and visual art available for purchase in print or free online. For the purchase of the print, or “Dead Tree” edition, the publication is donating a portion of the proceeds to One Tree Planted, a nonprofit that promises to plant one new tree for every dollar raised.
The name, from the Latin arboreus, the editors explain, “initially didn’t have any deeper meaning beyond the lyrical beauty of the word and its relevance to our names (Crabtree and Woods). Yet, after long discussion, we realized it is the perfect title for a publication committed to long-term artistic growth and a ‘big picture’ mission to help our readers, our contributors, and ourselves ‘see the forest for the trees.’”
Arboreal was started by friends Chad M. Crabtree [pictured] and Brandon Woods, who had initially worked together in marketing. “When our careers moved in different directions,” Crabtree explains, “we wanted to find a way to continue working together in some capacity. We tried a few different things, all with the goal of using our marketing skills to earn extra money. But we quickly lost interest in each of them. Then, in November, we decided to consider a different approach: what if we just do something we’re passionate about and ignore the profit side of things altogether? I floated the idea—almost as a joke—that we could start a literary magazine. After all, there’s certainly no financial incentive in that market! This tossed-off suggestion led to a deeper conversation about what we want to send out into the world, how we can help other people be creative, and—most importantly—how we can do all that while staying true to our values. The answer was not merely to create a literary magazine, but to create a literary magazine the right way (though, at the time, we weren’t entirely certain what that would mean).”
Background and experience guide the founders in their work. Crabtree earned a B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of Oregon. Studying literature as an undergraduate, he fell under the spell of Shakespeare and remains a zealous admirer and student of The Bard today. After college, he began preparations to pursue a PhD in English; however, heeding the warning from a mentor professor about the bleak academic job market, he set out on what has become a successful career in marketing.
Woods, now Art Director, developed a love of storytelling and writing that led him to work as a freelance writer. What started as a means to an end became an affirmation of his passion and a desire to keep it a part of his life. He wished to explore even more creative works from both the well-known and the underappreciated and underrepresented, which motivated his desire to co-found Arboreal Literary Magazine.
Thus far, Crabtree says they have enjoyed “the welcoming and supportive literary community. This has truly been a surprise: coming from the professional world of digital marketing and startups, we’ve grown accustomed to highly competitive (even cut-throat) environments, so the positive and encouraging LitMag world has been a breath of fresh air. The incredible submissions turnout for our first issue as evidence: 830 submissions in under two months.”
Similarly experienced by so many publications, Crabtree shares a couple of drawbacks. The first is costs: “Starting a new publication is expensive, particularly in a digital world where we can’t expect to make much money from sales. Yet, we never intended for Arboreal to be a money-making venture; we’re doing this purely for the pleasure of sharing great writing and art.”
The second drawback is time: “While we’ve loved every minute of this endeavor, it can be frustrating when there are so many things we want to do and try, but we simply don’t have the time as a small team. That said, we’ve added another editor to the team, so we are excited about the possibilities with this increased capacity.”
Despite these editorial concerns, Arboreal visitors to the site will find an extensive literary and visual experience. Crabtell says, “Readers can expect a hodgepodge of styles, voices, subjects, and visions. This was intentional: we decided to forego a theme for the inaugural issue, instead allowing anything and everything thematically. We wanted to keep the doors open as wide as possible to encourage more submissions and facilitate the organic development of Arboreal’s tone and vision. While it may initially feel like there’s little structure in the first issue, we believe the quality of the works we’ve included and the care in its production will hold it together. Future issues, however, will be organized around a central theme.”
Arboreal Issue No. 01 includes poetry by Sarah E N Kohrs, William Doreski, Brian L. Jacobs, Cindy Rene, Meredith MacLeod Davidson, Jennifer Adese, Dave Shortt, Megan Brown, DS Maolalai, Jonathan Moskaluk, Josiah Nelson, Deborah LeFalle, August Chaffin, Devon Macomb, and Charlotte Blair; fiction by Nick Young, Berit Brink, Aaron Calvin, Max Barker, Sarah Masters, and Emmy Rubin; nonfiction by M. Kolbet; visual art by Nathan Cole, Jordan Merlino, Tomislav Šilipetar, Amuri Morris, Philip Westcott, Kendra Schellenberg, Mark Huisenga, Larissa Monique, Janice Blaine, Delight Rogers, and Ali Wes.
For writers, Crabtree explains, “We’ve tried to be as clear and detailed as possible with our submission guidelines, especially since we have made some changes to them over the past few months. You can find all the necessary information on our submissions page. Starting with our second issue, we are also offering expedited submissions. Writers and artists now have the option to pay $2.50 per submission to guarantee our response within five days.”
“As a nascent publication,” Crabtree admits, “our editorial process is still a work in progress. That said, the following points have been—and will remain—consistent: All submissions are reviewed by at least two people (one of whom will always be the editor-in-chief), and all reviewers must revisit each submission at least once more after the initial review. We don’t provide feedback by default, but we are always willing to do so upon request. Submitters can expect responses with our decision within two weeks of the end of the submission window.”
Looking forward, Crabtree says, “We have tons of ideas for Arboreal in a variety of areas. We hope to find a high-quality, cost-effective alternative to Amazon KDP for publishing and distribution. We are in the very early stages of developing a subsidiary publication geared toward children’s literature and art. As a self-funded publication, we are currently unable to pay honoraria to our contributors, which is something we hope to change as soon as is financially feasible, and we hope to launch occasional writing/art contests with monetary prizes within the next year. We also intend to nominate a selection of our contributors for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the NET, and other relevant awards.”
What more could any reader or writer ask for? Stop by and visit Arboreal Literary Magazine today!