James Oppenheim and Waldo Frank started the magazine Seven Arts in 1916 to promote the arts in America, noting, “Such arts as cannot be directly set forth in the magazine will receive expression through critical writing [that is] no less creative than the fiction and poetry.” Of all arts, music is arguably the least translatable to words—but with the help of journals like the New York City–based Hudson Review (hudsonreview.com), music is getting more play in literary magazines than ever. Edited for over fifty years by poet Frederick Morgan—and since 1998 by Paula Deitz—the Hudson Review has published music criticism since its debut in 1947; the magazine hired a contributing music editor, Erick Neher, earlier this year. The Autumn 2012 “French Issue” features Emily Grosholz's translations of the lyrics of ten songs by the thirteenth-century lyric poet Thibaut de Champagne, along with a CD of the original songs performed by Alla Francesca, the ensemble-in-residence at the Cluny Museum in Paris. The quarterly journal accepts submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction via postal mail.
Inspired by Wyndham Lewis’s groundbreaking 1914 magazine Blast, BOMB (bombsite.com) is an arts and literature quarterly famous for its transcribed conversations between artists and writers. Its thirty-one-year archive of more than fifteen hundred such pieces includes numerous conversations with musicians, such as Lucinda Williams talking to Emmylou Harris and Thurston Moore chatting with Patti Smith. Issue 121 features Ben Chasny of the band Six Organs of Admittance talking with musician Richard Bishop, novelist Susanna Moore in conversation with author and Studio 360 radio-show host Kurt Andersen, and artist Katie Bell discussing art with musician John O’Connor. The magazine accepts poetry and prose submissions for its literary supplement, First Proof, via postal mail from January 1 to August 31.
Few magazines cover the arts as compellingly as the New York City–based biannual Esopus (esopusmag.com), published since 2003 by founding editor Tod Lippy. Each issue features writing and visual arts accompanied by a themed CD. To create the CD for Issue 18, Lippy invited a diverse group of musicians, including Andrew Bird and Cat Martino, to choose a scale or pattern from Nicolas Slonimsky’s 1947 book Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, to use as the basis for a new song. The issue also includes artists’ projects by Bill Burns and Mary Lum, portraits by Erich Hartmann, and fiction from Victoria Matsui. “We’re pulling things in from the alternative worlds of all the various creative disciplines,” Lippy says. Submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction are accepted via e-mail and postal mail.
One of the biggest music cities in America, Los Angeles is also home to the new literary magazine the Rattling Wall (therattlingwall.com). Funded by PEN Center USA, the semiannual print publication “feels a little rock and roll, while maintaining its devotion to literature,” says founding editor Michelle Meyering. The second issue features an essay by former Black Flag front man Henry Rollins, and the third will include an excerpt from a forthcoming novella by Joyce Carol Oates. Submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction are currently being accepted by postal mail.
A discussion of the melding of music and literature would not be complete without mentioning the new Music Issue of the Believer (believermag.com), which includes a cassette tape, curated by musician Calvin Johnson, featuring music by bands that have released cassette-only albums, such as Tomorrows Tulips and Lovers Without Borders. The issue also includes an interview with Moby, a two-page spread on odd time signatures in popular music, and an essay by Anthony Heilbut on the quixotic tradition of the male soprano. The Believer accepts submissions of poetry and creative nonfiction via Submittable.
Travis Kurowski is completing a book on the literary magazine, due out from Atticus Books in 2013. His website is traviskurowski.com.
[Editor's Note: The name of Thibaut de Champagne's translator in the Autumn 2012 issue of the Hudson Review was appended to this version of Literary MagNet.]