Martial arts fans who are writers, or vice versa, Clinch: A Martial Arts Literary Magazine is a new open-access online biannual of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual arts. Editor-in-Chief Grant Young says Clinch was started because of “a gap in the market.” He explains, “There are some great literary magazines out there that focus on sports, but none that focus solely on martial arts. Since I’m a huge martial arts fan and a writer myself, I sought to close that gap. In other words, I wanted to bridge the gap between the martial arts and writing communities; both of which I keep close to heart.”
For those unfamiliar with martial arts, Young explains the meaning behind the publication’s name. “The ‘clinch’ position/technique is essentially a form of close-quarters, standing grappling. It’s super common in many martial arts (boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, to name a few), and therefore it made sense as a name for our magazine since we seek to include all different martial arts. Plus, clinch is just a cool word, and I thought it would be a unique and neat name for a lit mag.”
In addition to his experience in martial arts, Young comes with a writing MFA from the University of San Francisco (2022) and has published writing in The San Franciscan, HAD, Roi Fainéant, and elsewhere. Joining him are: Tyler Martinez, Fiction Editor, currently a collegiate English student in NYC with a background in editing and reading at various lit mags; Shahriar Shams, Nonfiction Editor, who has published writing in Singapore Unbound, Dhaka Tribune, The Daily Star and elsewhere; and Ian Jackson, Poetry Editor, a current English student at the University of Florida who has published writing in Independent Florida Alligator, Tea Literary and Arts Magazine, and huthezine.
Clinch currently accepts submissions via email (see website for full submission guidelines). “From there,” Young says, “the submissions are sorted by genre and sent to that genre’s editor for reading and ultimate decision making regarding publication (which the editor in chief puts the final stamp of approval on). We provide detailed feedback for a $5 donation fee, which goes directly back to our writers upon publication. Our general response time ranges from 2-6 weeks, depending on genre and submission volume.”
Young says Clinch readers “can expect to find the martial arts being explored and examined from a variety of different forms and voices. While submissions don’t have to mention the martial arts, submissions must share in the virtues of martial arts (patience, meditation, and surprise, to name a few), but we’re always open to unique interpretations of those virtues.”
Some recent content readers can enjoy includes fiction by Jeremy Kaplan and Jennifer Schneider; nonfiction by Jacke Bedell and Sarah Normandie; poetry by J. Tarwood, Natalya Sukhonos, Jon Petruschke, Barbara Diehl, and Kathryn Haydon; and visual art by Hannah Benros, whose work is featured on the cover of Issue 3.
Starting a literary magazine offers many learning opportunities, as Young shares, “I learned very quickly that any grandiose goals I had for Clinch’s growth/world dominance were a bit too ambitious. Alongside that, I learned that goals for my lit mag to ‘make it’ in the mainstream, whatever you take that to be, wasn’t a healthy ’Why?’ to keep me invested and motivated in the magazine’s growth. So instead, I now prioritize Clinch being a platform to champion the creative work of people from a community that I adore and admire. Essentially, I’ve learned that this is a modest labor of love and a way for me to give back to the literary community. And that has been an extremely gratifying mindset shift.”
Young reveals a great accomplishment with a look forward as well, “As of our last Issue (Issue 3) we became a paying publication, which was a huge milestone that I’m very proud of! Now, however, our sights for the relatively near future are to start producing print issues. Which I expect isn’t too far away.”
Young leaves readers with this conundrum:
“Where does the ‘art’ in ‘martial arts’ exist?”
“It exists within the Clinch!”