Lit Mags I Have Known: A Short Guide

Often I hear it said that the only people who read literary magazines are other writers. There might be some truth to that, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In a time where many newspapers and magazines are still not giving women their equitable due, sometimes it pays to look off the beaten path for new voices.

Now, to be clear, I have not officially run the numbers on the percentage of male to female authors in the following publications, nor is this meant to be a comprehensive list. Those of you with your own favorites can go ahead and give a shout in the comments. Or if you’re feeling particularly stats-loving, you can run your own VIDA-style count. These are just some recommendations based on what I have read and noticed in the past few years. Now let’s get to it.

Word Riot

Word Riot Press logoWord Riot is practically ancient in Internet-years. The online magazine and small press recently celebrated its tenth birthday. Founded by Jackie Corley, Word Riot publishes fiction, poetry, small press book reviews, short essays and more. It is quite open to new writers, and each issue consistently has great stuff to read. (Full disclosure: I write for their blog, Notes From Elsewhere, a collection of literary-related links.)

Recent favorite: Tara Gilboy’s “The State of Women: August 26, 1920.”


PANK 7 logoEdited by M. Bartley Seigel and Roxane Gay and founded in 2006, [PANK] is both an online and print publication offering fiction and poetry from a wide swath of writers. They love experimental work and are also open to emerging writers. They’ve also expanded into small press territory by publishing a handful of books, including Myfanwy Collins’ latest, I Am Holding Your Hand.

I’m also a big fan of their annual Queer Issue. Here’s a link to the most recent one, published last fall.


Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading

Electric Literature's Recommended Reading logoElectric Literature started out as a print literary magazine that featured five short stories from five different authors on a quarterly basis. They released six issues before deciding to refocus on a more online-based approach. Recommended Reading presents a short story (though they can be rather lengthy short stories) once per week by a variety of different authors. Sometimes it’s another writer doing the recommending, and sometimes it is the editor of a small press, but each story has an editor’s note by that week’s selector talking about why they love their choice.

This week, you can check out Amelia Gray’s “These Are the Fables,“ recommended by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP).

NANO Fiction

NANO Fiction cover Vol. 6 No. 2I love NANO Fiction’s slim little volumes of flash fiction. Founded in 2006 by Kirby Johnson, the print version of the publication appears twice per year, with online features and interviews going up on the site year-round. Every piece is less than 300 words, and there is an experimental vibe running through many of the stories. For the past five years, they’ve hosted the NANO Fiction Prize, which awards $500 and publication to the best submitted piece of flash fiction.

Here’s a recent post on their site for subject matter in which they are currently interested.

Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings logoBrain Pickings isn’t a literary magazine per se, but rather a “weekly interestingness digest.” However, editor Maria Popova heavily features book-related content focusing on creativity and studies of authors’ projects that we might not normally see. For instance, did you know that Anne Sexton once wrote a children’s book?

The posts are always well thought out and I also love the site’s mission statement:

Because creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources – ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration – that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to culture, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas – like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become.

Do check it out.

Tell me, what’s something great you’ve read online lately?

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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