by
Travis Kurowski
6.17.15

The landscape of literary magazines is constantly shifting, marked by numerous start-ups and closures each year, but a number of journals have managed to hang on for the long haul, and quite a few are celebrating significant anniversaries in 2015. One of the oldest literary magazines in the country, the Southern Review (thesouthernreview.org) was established in 1935 by Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, and Charles W. Pipkin. Housed at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the quarterly celebrates its eightieth birthday with the Spring 2015 issue, which opens with a tribute to the late poet Larry Levis and ends with a reflection by Georgina Nugent-Folan on life, death, and Samuel Beckett. The issue also honors one of the journal’s former editors, James Olney, and poet Philip Levine, both of whom passed away in early 2015 as it was being prepared. Two of Levine’s final poems appear in the issue, one titled “A Home Away,” which opens like a breath: “The dawn is slow in coming.” Submissions to the Southern Review are considered by mail from September 1 through December 1 for fiction and nonfiction, and from September 1 through February 1 for poetry.

Due north, at the University of Memphis, graduate students have produced the biannual journal the Pinch (pinchjournal.com) for thirty-five years. The magazine takes its name from downtown Memphis’s Pinch District, an area where starving Irish immigrants—known derisively as “pinch-guts”—lived during the nineteenth century. The editors find inspiration in these origins: “[The name] commemorates our commitment to publishing diverse voices that speak from the periphery.” The Spring 2015 issue features new work from nonfiction writer Thomas Mira y Lopez and poet Lauren Hilger, alongside that of the 2014 Pinch Literary Award winners. The Pinch accepts submissions in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction through Submittable between August 15 and March 15.

The San Francisco–based triannual ZYZZYVA (zyzzyva.org) celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, with a characteristically strong lineup of issues in the works. The new Spring/Summer edition features a personal and historical study of borders from Seattle writer Julie Chinitz and new fiction from Brooklyn, New York–based author Ben Greenman—a piece that falls outside the periodical’s usual focus on West Coast writing. “We still publish mostly West Coast writers,” says managing editor Oscar Villalon, “but if we like something by someone who happens to live in New York…we’ll take it.” In the forthcoming Fall and Winter 2015 anniversary issues, look for new work from Glen David Gold, Patricia Engel, and Dagoberto Gilb. ZYZZYVA accepts submissions in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by mail twice yearly, from January 1 through May 31 and from August 1 through November 30.

Heading toward its fiftieth year of publication, biannual Brooklyn journal Hanging Loose (hangingloosepress.com) has diligently and without fanfare been a leading voice for American poetry and fiction since its first issue was released in 1966. Coeditor Robert Hershon says, “We’ve started planning for 2016, when Hanging Loose will, amazingly, turn fifty. Dick Lourie and I have been around since the beginning in 1966 (‘Hey, it’s just a little poetry magazine,’ I told my wife. ‘It’s not going to take up any time’) and Mark Pawlak since 1980. So the editors have 135 years of cumulative experience.” Some legacy! Issue 104 continues the tradition by bringing together poems from new voices like Liuyu Chen, and from more established ones like D. Nurske and David Kirby. Hanging Loose accepts poetry and prose submissions by mail year-round.

Finally, some magazines prove their lasting power by making a comeback, like the biannual Copper Nickel (coppernickelmag.tumblr.com), housed at the University of Colorado in Denver. The journal, which was established in 2002 but had been on hiatus since founder Jake Adam York’s untimely death in 2012, returned this past spring with Issue 20. “Both Jake and his work were well known in literary circles and beyond,” notes the magazine’s new editor, Wayne Miller, in the issue preface. “In relaunching Copper Nickel, my coeditors and I have tried to build on the legacy of the journal while also striking out for new ground.” As part of the relaunch, Miller and his staff have expanded the journal’s distribution, redesigned its layout, and added a new recurring folio of translated work. Issue 20 features fiction from Nathan Oates, poetry from Ada Limón, and a translation folio from Jan Wagner. Copper Nickel accepts electronic submissions in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation from August 1 to May 1.                        

Travis Kurowski is the editor of Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine, published in 2013 by Atticus Books. His website is traviskurowski.com.