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New Lit on the Block :: The Dawn Review

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The Dawn Review online journal is precisely the kind of effort we need right now. “We are called The Dawn Review because we are committed to renewal, in every sense of the word,” says Founding Editor Ziyi Yan (闫梓祎). All literary writing is accepted: poetry, prose, hybrid forms, etc. Visual art and pieces that combine art with writing are also welcome, and the editors post interviews, articles, and book reviews on their blog, in addition to the publication’s three issues per year.

“Through our issues,” Yan explains, “we champion forward-looking pieces that fight against the restraints of language and form. Our issues are not separated by genre, and our editors read with an eye for inventiveness rather than conformity. We are also committed to renewal in our editorial process – in order to uplift developing voices, we read blindly and provide feedback on all submissions.”

Readers of The Dawn Review, Yan says, “can expect to be surprised, inspired, and occasionally challenged by the content. Each issue is filled with work from diverse genres of writing and art, as well as unclassifiable work. Our issues stand out for their novelty – whether through new language, new forms, new ideas, or new ways of conveying ideas. Furthermore, since our issues are not split into categories, readers will likely find inspiration from genres and forms that they don’t typically engage with.”

Some recent contributors include Natalie Eleanor Patterson, Edward Gunawan, James Diaz, Annette Sisson, Bart Edelman, Shana Blatt, Huahua Zhu, Fiona Jin, Ben Covey, Irina Novikova, Ava Chen, and Edward Supranowicz.

Yan recalls the motivation for starting The Dawn Review, “I wanted to create a space where striking, original work could flourish. At the same time, I wanted to create a magazine that would put artists and writers above all else. Since most literary magazines send out form rejections en masse, I ensured that each submission to The Dawn Review would receive free, detailed feedback upon request. This way, even rejections could become meaningful experiences for submitters. Furthermore, I wanted The Dawn Review to be a magazine that uplifted emerging voices. Many existing magazines sought to promote emerging creatives by catering solely to that demographic, but I wanted The Dawn Review to be a testament to the fact that emerging writers could produce work that was just as valuable – and should be taken just as seriously – as that of more established writers. Finally, I wanted The Dawn Review to promote quality work while still being accessible. This is why all of our issues are free to access, and why we will never have submission fees for any of our initiatives.”

Yan, a young Chinese writer living in Connecticut, comes with a strong background in writing and publishing. She is published or forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Rust and Moth, Kissing Dynamite, Peach Mag, and others. She is also an alumna of the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship, and the Kenyon Young Writers Workshop and has received numerous recognitions and awards for her work. Joining editorial forces with Yan are nearly two dozen equally enthusiastic and invested writers, including Grace Marie Liu, a high school sophomore from Michigan and published poet, and Massachusetts writer Joanna Liu.

For writers looking to submit works, Yan shares their process. “Our editors are the first step of our reading process – they read each piece, write feedback of around 300 words, and recommend that the piece either be accepted, rejected, or accepted conditionally. Then, editors meet with an executive editor to discuss the status of each piece – this is the stage when most rejections are sent out. Finally, I will meet with the executive editors to finalize acceptances, suggest revisions on pieces that we intend to accept conditionally, and make decisions about pieces on the brink of acceptance. Every piece is read carefully by 2-4 people before a decision can be made. We aim to respond to all submissions within one month, but some may take a bit longer.”

No new publication comes without a valuable learning curve, and Yan reflects, “The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that writing and art are ultimately human acts and that it is important to value the person behind each creative work! I am reminded of this whenever I interview contributors about their work, receive messages from readers about how a certain piece impacted them, or hear from writers who have put our feedback to good use. Ultimately, The Dawn Review has reaffirmed my belief that literature is one of the most powerful forms of human connection and that it should be treated as such.”

As for the future, Yan says, “We have a lot in store for the coming months. We just accepted a new group of editors, which is exciting. We will also be releasing interviews with featured contributors from Issue 3 throughout the fall, and we’re making a guide for young writers that we’ll post on our blog. We’ll be announcing our Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominees then as well. Later in the fall, we’re looking to provide some kind of contest for younger writers, possibly in collaboration with other journals. Next winter, we will be launching our poetry prize for the second time!”

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