Literary MagNet

Travis Kurowski

Sixty years ago Americans were introduced to the work of authors from around the globe in the pages of New World Writing, a “new adventure in modern reading,” published biannually from 1952 to 1959 by New American Library. During its seven-year run, the journal highlighted literature out of Argentina, Ghana, Japan, and elsewhere alongside poetry and prose by influential American authors, setting the stage for today’s crop of international literary magazines. Transition (, founded two years after New World Writing ceased publication, recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Established in Uganda by Rajat Neogy and focusing on the literature of Africa, the magazine went on to publish fifty successful—yet often controversial—issues before suspending publication in 1976. In 1991 the magazine was relaunched at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. The fiftieth anniversary issue, released this past November, celebrates Transition’s Ugandan heritage and explores its history through commentary by former contributors such as Wole Soyinka and Paul Theroux. Transition is always looking for new poetry, fiction, and essays from and about Africa and the African diaspora; visit the website for guidelines.

The year-old online journal Asymptote (, produced by a far-flung team of editors, has featured work from authors and translators drawn from almost fifty countries and working in upward of forty languages, from Arabic to Burmese to Catalan. In addition to translations, the magazine publishes work in its original language, sometimes with accompanying audio. The January 2012 issue presents literature from Indonesia, Sweden, and elsewhere, including an excerpt of a novel by the late Polish writer Bruno Jasienski, a leader of the Polish futurist movement. For the April issue, Asymptote is seeking submissions of English-language fiction themed on “the unsaid.” Send an e-mail to for submission details.

Last year in London, editors Benjamin Eastham and Jacques Testard launched the cross-cultural gem the White Review (, a quarterly focusing on the global avant-garde. The October 2011 issue features an essay by Jessica Copley on international graphic novels, translations of poems by Japan’s Toshiko Hirata and the late Yiddish poet Rikudah Potash, work by American poet Rebecca Woolf, and fiction by Federico Falco, whose writing was highlighted in Granta’s 2010 Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists Issue. The White Review’s fourth issue is due out in February. Visit the website to find guidelines for submitting poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and translations.

In Scotland, Gerry Cambridge has been publishing the biannual poetry magazine the Dark Horse ( since 1995. With help from two U.S. editors, Jennifer Goodrich and Marcia Menter, each issue presents a transatlantic blend of contemporary poetry and discussion. Issue 28, due out in February, will include an interview with Sharon Olds, an essay on Frederick Seidel, and a piece by Dennis O’Driscoll on Kay Ryan’s poetry. The Dark Horse welcomes poetry and essay submissions from anywhere in the world year-round via postal mail; details are online.

Also employing an international group of coeditors working together “to help build and sustain a translocal literary community,” the Amsterdam-based literary annual Versal ( was established by Megan M. Garr ten years ago. The magazine publishes the work of writers and artists from all over, including, in Issue 9, Australian poet Louis Armand, Americans Stace Budzko (fiction) and Alice Notley (poetry), and Japanese artist Ayumi Suzuki. Visit the website for guidelines on poetry and prose submissions, which must be accompanied by a two-dollar reading fee. Versal will be reading for its tenth-anniversary issue through January 15.

Travis Kurowski is completing a book on the literary magazine, due out from Atticus Books in 2013. His website is



Wow, great article. So glad to see international literature getting recognition, but I'm stunned that WordsWithoutBorders was left off this list! They've been around for seven or so years now, and they set the bar for quality in international literature in translation.