Literary MagNet

by Travis Kurowski

News and Trends

Posted 1.1.13

January/February 2013

Founded by Rhett Iseman Trull in 2007, the Greensboro, North Carolina–based poetry magazine Cave Wall (www.cavewallpress.com) focuses on old forms, eschewing modern design in favor of minimalist tradition. Published twice yearly, Cave Wall offers a pared-down print journal whose simple layout is reminiscent of modernist literary magazines like Alfred Kreymborg’s Others and the first issues of Poetry. Despite that simplicity, Cave Wall is never spare on quality. The latest issue features new poems by Bruce Bond, David Hernandez, and Cecilia Woloch, among others. Submissions will reopen in the spring, and are accepted only by mail.

Of course, many publications take inspiration from the past. The simple layout and distinctively cropped corner of the poetry journal 6x6 (www.uglyducklingpresse.org) resembles the 1914 Russian futurist magazines that are its wellsprings—in particular, Vasily Kamensky’s Tango With Cows. Published three times a year by Ugly Duckling Presse in Brooklyn, New York’s Old American Can Factory, 6x6 features six pages of work by six poets in each hand-bound issue, complete with a letterpress cover. Issue 27 includes poems by Thibault Raoult, Gracie Leavitt, Judah Rubin, Marthe Reed, Eric Amling, and an excerpt from Spanish poet Antonio Gamoneda’s Description of the Lie, translated by Sara Gilmore. Submissions are accepted year-round by mail—but there are only nine issues of 6x6 to go, as the publication will end its run with issue 36, for obvious mathematical reasons.

The new Seattle-based long-form literary magazine Big Fiction (www.bigfictionmagazine.com) also distinguishes itself in the age of the iPad by publishing novella-length and “long short” stories, carefully letterpressed inside handmade covers. “My central criterion for choosing a piece is re-readability,” says founding editor Heather Jacobs. “I want readers to be able to find many layers within a piece that can continue to surprise and delight.” The magazine is published twice yearly, and each issue has a print run of only three hundred copies. Issue 3 features a novella by Mylène Dressler and long shorts by Eric Neuenfeldt and Molly Bonovsky Anderson; the cover illustration is a hand-carved linoleum cut by Jonathan Jacobs and printed on a Vandercook letterpress by Lynda Sherman. Submissions are currently open; visit the website for details.

Though the Paris Review (www.theparisreview.org) has for nearly six decades represented the best in literary publishing, since 2010—when Lorin Stein became the quarterly’s editor and Charlotte Strick unveiled her redesign—it has also become one of the most elegant literary magazines ever produced. A stylish new iPad and iPhone app has recently been developed (an Android version is forthcoming) that offers, among other things, free access to the entire archive of Paris Review interviews. The Paris Review has also recently partnered with National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and, beginning with the Winter issue, will publish the winner of the program’s popular Three-Minute Fiction Contest. The new issue also includes fiction from Rachel Kushner and Tim Parks, an interview with poet Susan Howe, and an essay by John Daniels. The Paris Review accepts submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and translations by mail year-round.

For over thirty years, the New England Review (www.nereview.com), housed at Middlebury College in Vermont, has been producing an elegant, intricately designed print magazine. “[Editor Stephen Donadio] gives the order of things in the journal a lot of thought, and the pieces are arranged consciously, the way paintings in a gallery would be,” says managing editor Carolyn Kuebler. “We try to emphasize the relationships that arise from one poem or story or essay to the next. Some kind of theme always makes itself known, and there’s often a thread to follow, subtle as it may be.” Issue 33.4 includes an essay by Christopher Shaw about William James hiking in the Adirondacks and stories by Reed Johnson and Kelly Kathleen Ferguson. New England Review also recently launched NER Digital, a separate but related online publication, and will soon release e-book editions of the print publication. New England Review accepts submissions of poetry, prose, and translation by mail and online between September 1 and May 31.

Travis Kurowski is completing a book on the literary magazine, due out this year from Atticus Books. His website is traviskurowski.com                                     

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