by Sam Levenberg, Staff Writer
Hello out there!
While looking on the World Wide Web and in a bunch of bookstores (both big and small) for interesting literary magazines, I realized that it was a daunting task. Considering that Duotrope, a service for writers and magazines alike, hosts over four thousand magazines, anthologies, and contests of its own, I could only assume that there were thousands of different independent publications in existence, of which I needed to choose only a few.
I want to note the two precedents I set for myself to help narrow down this range to only a few publications. I didn’t pay much attention to undergraduate student-run magazines (especially those that only publish student work) or niche publications (e.g. a review of food poetry) because I wanted to consider those magazines with broader audiences and contributors as well as more diverse tastes.
And so, in no particular order, these are five literary magazines which I really liked and why I liked them:
- 32 Poems: I liked this magazine because of its premise – all their poetry is 32 lines or shorter. This singular restriction makes it so that you don’t get bogged down reading the journal. It was refreshing, to say the least, and I particularly loved the way that a lot of the authors creatively found ways to tell an entire story in such a short amount of lines.
- vox poetica: More than their actual publications, which I think I should probably have read a few more of, this magazine’s defining strength is in its website. In their mission statement, this publisher says they are interested in, “…art that pushes, or rather forcefully shoves, the boundaries.” and their website strives for this hand and foot. One of the favorite sections on their site is the “Prompts” page, where the editors post some form of prompt and ask viewers to write a poem based off it. It was a definitely a treat reading what people came up with.
- Eskimo Pie: Ohhhh kay, the first thing I liked about this magazine, before I even got into its pages, was its name. I mean, I personally love Eskimo Pies as much as I love Mallomars, so the name itself made me think of those. With a focus on all kinds of poetry, but with an abundance of haikus, this magazine was definitely and interesting read. The haikus especially made me happy for the same reason that 32 Poems’ works made me happy – it was interesting to see what people did with such a small amount of space.
- The 22 Magazine: The greatest thing about this magazine is that every edition has exactly 22 authors, no more no less. That’s what I loved about it. By confining themselves to such a specific number of authors this publication gives great focus on the work of said authors. Some of the pieces are really lighthearted and fun, some are dark and reflective, and some are indescribable. But all of it is unique, and all of it was enjoyable to read.
- Circus Book: This one I have to say I am a little more biased about because I did some work for them a little while back, so I got to know the editors and what the kind of work they put out. What I ended up liking so much about the Circus Book was that I could spend hours reading and looking through the archives on their website because they have works of fiction, non-fiction, all kinds of poetry and a plethora (yes, plethora) of artwork, almost all of which is interesting.
Please, dear readers, keep in mind that this is my opinion and is therefore heavily biased. If you know of other magazines that you feel are better than the ones I listed, feel free to tell me about them so I can check them out, because there is a very good chance they are better than the ones I listed.
With great amounts of fondness,
Dear Scary Monsters, Nice Sprites, Ghosts n Stuff,
“I’m truly happy my work is appearing in this particular issue of Yorick Magazine, alongside the great words of other poets and writers. The magazine transitions smoothly from poem to poem, story to story, and provokes thought through powerful writing. The editors here certainly know what they are doing. Giuseppi Martino Buonaiuto & Katherine Steiger are two poets in this issue to make note of.”
We’re grateful to Walton for his flattering review and are thankful to have him on our team of contributors. If you haven’t read his work, or the works of the other lovely artists and writers in our fourth issue, click the link and give us a Facebook like!
Walton has been up to quite a bit in New England, as he’s heading a project called Poetry to the Streets, where contributors have the opportunity to have their work spread by carrier pigeon.
That’s an absolute lie. But their work will actually be circulated by Walton and a few other volunteers in the streets of New Hampshire! Placed on trash cans, lamp posts, store windows, and other places where you might not normally find poetry, these grassroots blossoms (maybe crumbs of pollen, to be more accurate) are the darlings of Walton’s mantra: “Bring the average person free poetry.”
Poetry to the Streets is managed through The Virus Is Silence, another of Jeremiah’s blogs that will be published in summer 2013. According to Walton, “The Virus Is Silence will promote poetry activists, those who creatively promote poetry, and are inspirational to us as poets. The website the blog is hosted at will feature a list of potential publishing presses, self publishing resources, and general tips and ideas for creatively promoting your poetry.”
The distribution does not have to be contained to New Hampshire; in fact, it shouldn’t be contained. It should be spread. Silently. Like a virus. If you’re interested in circulating free poems in your streets, email Walton at TheVirusIsSilence@gmail.com and you’ll receive some poems that you can print and hand out in your area. The goals are voluntarism and outreach. Visit Walton’s website, publish a blog post linking to the project, and use the weird vibrating qualities of your mouth to tell others about Poetry to the Streets.
If you want your poems carrier-pigeoned in this grassroots fashion, email TheVirusIsSilence@gmail.com with your submissions and watch as the world gains another great work.
Don’t forget to do anything that I wrote in this post! I’ll be holding you accountable. Dubstep is cool.
Dear you Crazy Diamonds,
I want to thank everyone who has submitted to Yorick Magazine as of now. It’s not easy submitting work to the painful scrutiny of others. That’s why I want to make this submission process a little more transparent than other magazines may. Whether this destroys the mystique that literary magazines carry is as precarious a consideration as to whether Philippa and Henry David Thoreau would make great friends.
First we take a submission and put it in a folder labeled “Season 20XX Manuscript.” We ensure that all submissions are gathered and placed in aggregate Word documents for easier viewing. Then, we give our courtesy to the writer, letting them know the submission was received. Seems fair enough.
It’s the deliberation that always villainizes the magazine. Here’s how we’re not villains.
When we review submissions, we don’t let a writer’s accolades precede their work. That doesn’t fly. A T-Rex that eats three Deinonychi will always be more formidable than a T-Rex who is reputed to have been able to eat four or five Deinonychi but gives of show of only eating two.
So no, reputation doesn’t cut it. What does “cut it” is quality. Good stories and good poems are determined by two deciding factors: 1) Their inherent quality and suitability to the reviewers’ tastes and 2) The quality of competing submissions. A short story may be magnificent, but if it’s fated to be matched with another short story that is 1.1% more magnificent, and both are deadlocked for the last position in the issue, then the least magnificent story probably won’t be accepted.
One component of this whole process is very important to illuminate: if all submissions are just plain terrible, then the issue won’t be produced. Standards are created for a reason. The prefixes “stand” and “stat” draw from the same meaning, which is something that remains and does not move. Some examples are statues and statutes. Immovable entities. Standards shouldn’t lower just because the content we receive is sub-par to what we usually publish.
Fortunately or unfortunately, all of the submissions we’ve gathered so far are maddeningly wonderful. It’s going to be hard to choose what goes into the Spring 2013 issue. Whatever is selected, just know that we’re picking diamonds from a glorious field of, well, diamonds – if that makes sense.
– Alex, Editor-in-Chief