Looking for something to read? Something short you can enjoy in one sitting, that won’t be the same rehashed news story or social media post? While platforms such as Medium host and curate scores of blog posts and articles that provide a quick read, also for your reading pleasure are hundreds of online literary magazines. Many also publish weekly newsletters. Most are advertisement free! There are of course the famous names: The Paris Review and Ploughshares and then there are all those smaller ones—some associated with the Masters of Fine Arts Programs in writing at colleges and universities and others that were independently founded by writers and editors. While sadly Glimmer Train and Tin House have shuttered their doors, new literary journals emerge each year.
As a writer, who received her MFA from the Stonecoast Writing program at the University of Southern Maine in January, I started sending my work out to various magazines –both short stories and essays—a few years ago and like many writers I’ve received dozens of rejections. I’m also proud to say, I’ve been published. Just out, you can read my nonfiction piece, “The Story of the Family Samovar”, in the Spring/Fall issue of Lunch Ticket, the literary Magazine associated with the Los Angeles campus of Antioch University. Also available to be read online is my short story “Pain Management”, published in the Spring 2020 issue of the independent literary magazine Change Seven.
I like part of the inspiration for Change Seven’s name. On their “About Page” they’ve posted a photo of one of my favorite short story writers Dorothy Parker and a quote she gave in 1956 to The Paris Review, “It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and write it sentence by sentence—no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I can change seven.” Yes, I can definitely identify with that need to keep revising, reviewing, and rewriting over and over again, until I get it right, something I never had the opportunity to do when I was quickly dashing off newspaper columns or writing reference books.
When selecting which journals you’d like to read or submit your work to, start by reading their mission statement. Lunch Ticket has a very specific mission statement: “The name Lunch Ticket pays homage to Antioch University’s historic focus on issues that affect the working class and underserved communities. We publish writers and artists who have been marginalized and underrepresented, or historically misrepresented, and welcome work that engages with issues of social, economic, and environmental justice. We are here to foster community and build a future with equity in publishing.”
A sampling of content, means start reading, in order to gain a sense of what the editors like. One way to learn about Literary Magazines or journals that might have similar tastes to yours is to look at the places where other writers you admire have been published. So when you read an essay or a story and at the end in the “About the author” take note of the magazines they list and then check them out. Staff rosters change and a magazine may no longer be publishing or accepting submissions, but it is a place to start.
I’ve garnered my list of favorites: River Teeth, Ruminate, Prairie Schooner, Ninth Letter, Southwest Review, Baltimore Review, Anomaly, New England Review among others. They come in all sizes, most with a mission to publish the underrepresented voices and to foster experimentation. Some of the MFA programs, such as Stonecoast focus on producing a printed journal The Stonecoast Review, and a fine literary journal it is. They do publish “Spotlight” online of student work and you can still read one of my short stories “Timepiece” on the site. All literary magazines, associated with a teaching institution or independent, struggle for financial support. IF you afford to purchase a subscription, printed copies, or just make a donation—the money will go to good use. Staff is usually volunteer is severely underpaid.
The magazine Poets & Writers has a fairly comprehensive list of literary magazines, just remember that new ones are popping up all the time. If readers would like to add additional names of journals they’d like mentioned, please do so in “feedback and comments”–thank you. Be daring, be bold and look for new voices and different ways of seeing the world—available in Literary Magazines— as we confront today’s challenges of a raging pandemic and global warming. And keep reading.