Literary MagNet

Travis Kurowski
From the May/June 2013 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

College and university campuses have long provided fertile ground (and funding) for literary magazines—think Yale University or Sewanee: The University of the South, and the journals they bore more than a century ago. Established in its current form by novelist Frederick Barthelme more recently, in 1977, the University of Southern Mississippi’s Mississippi Review ( was described by Raymond Carver as “one of the most remarkable and indispensable literary journals of our time.” Fiction writer Andrew Milward, who took the editorial reins with the latest issue, says, “The first thing I did was go into the office and tape a sign to the wall that said, I WILL NOT DESTROY MISSISSIPPI REVIEW.” Keeping to his word, Issue 40.3 contains new, powerful, genre-bending fiction and nonfiction from Lydia Davis, Stuart Dybek, Alan Heathcock, Ander Monson, Caryl Pagel, and David Shields. Mississippi Review considers unsolicited poetry and fiction by mail for its annual prize issue; visit the website for details.

A bit farther south, at Loyola University in New Orleans, poet Mark Yakich is the new editor of New Orleans Review (, a magazine that’s been publishing new and established writers since 1968. “I envision our new print issues as being more than traditional lit mags,” Yakich says. “I see their focus as being fine, aesthetic objects.” And such is Issue 38.2, a bundle of five separate chapbooks that includes a hybrid work of prose poetry from Lynda Sexson and long-form nonfiction from Max Ross; the forthcoming issue, due out in June, will feature a similar format. New Orleans Review has also undergone an elegant website redesign, increasing online-only content such as book reviews, interviews, poetry, fiction, and essays, as well as free PDF downloads of back issues from the magazine’s forty-five-year archive. Poetry, fiction, and essay submissions for both the print magazine and the website are accepted year-round through Submittable.

Butler University’s Booth ( demonstrates a similar fascination with design, reinventing the annual magazine’s physical aesthetic every two issues. Issue Four features comics and cover art from Dustin Harbon, along with fiction from Roxane Gay and Michael Martone, and poetry from Tim DeJong and Aubrey Ryan. “In 2014 Booth will go old school,” says editor in chief Robert Stapleton, who plans to showcase cover flaps, deckled edging, hand-lettered typography (Issue Six), and woodcuts (Issue Seven). Booth also publishes one piece of new work on its website every week, and accepts year-round submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, comics, and lists via Submittable. Submissions for the 2013 Story Prize, which offers $1,000 and publication, will be accepted through May 31.

Established in 1977 and housed in the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, West Branch (, has been edited by poet G. C. Waldrep for the past three years. Last fall the magazine increased its print frequency to three issues per year, while continuing to produce West Branch Wired, a quarterly online publication. The  Winter 2013 print issue includes poems by Peter Streckfus, fiction from Mark Brazaitis, and an essay on Henri Cole and Carl Phillips by Garth Greenwell. “We solicit work only rarely,” Waldrep says. “I like to think of each issue of any given literary journal as an artifact of a community—of writers and readers.” West Branch accepts poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation submissions from August 15 to April 1 annually, through the online submissions manager.

Last year the University of Central Missouri–based Pleiades ( added poetry editor Kathryn Nuernberger to a masthead saturated with poetic talent, including Joy Katz, Susan Ludvigson, Kevin Prufer, and Wayne Miller. But the journal also has deep ties to fiction: The latest issue, volume 33.2, features a new story from Zachary Mason, who was first published in 2007 when Pleiades printed a chapter of what would become his acclaimed novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). The issue also includes poetry by Tomaz Salamun and West Branch’s G. C. Waldrep. Pleiades accepts poetry, fiction, and essay submissions online and by mail between August 15 and May 15. 

Travis Kurowski is completing work on Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine, forthcoming in August from Atticus Books. His website is