By Sunil Freeman
It’s hard to overestimate the important role literary journals play for authors and all of us who enjoy good writing. For people just starting to publish, having work accepted by editors offers significant validation. And when the journal appears, whether in print or online, writers begin to reach a broader audience, beyond the people they may know in a writing group or audience members in the many open mic readings around town.
For readers, journals give an opportunity to hear new voices, to check out, in the immortal words of DC native Marvin Gaye, “What’s going on.” Poet Marilyn Hacker could be speaking for many of us when she tells of her appreciation: “I've been an inveterate reader of literary magazines since I was a teenager. There are always discoveries. You're sitting in your easy chair, reading; you realize you've read a story or a group of poems four times, and you know, Yes, I want to go farther with this writer.”
If you’re looking for where to submit your work, please take advantage of the literary journals in our book gallery. Feel free to browse or to purchase copies, and don’t forget that members get a 30% discount on books and journals. There’s something for everybody, whether you’re sending out work now, or just looking for good new writing. Here’s a brief glimpse at a few of the journals now on the shelves.
Poetry includes poems by Yusef Komunyakaa, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Victoria Chang, Stephen Dunn, and Stanley Plumly. Plumly’s poem, “Variation on a Line from Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Five Flights Up,’” is one he read at our program celebrating publication of the recent Poems in Medicine anthology edited by Michael Salcman. In the back of the journal Rebecca Hazelton reviews Joanne Diaz’s My Favorite Tyrants. Some of you may recall that we were fortunate to have Diaz read at the Center a few years ago after her selection as an Emerging Writer.
In the current issue of Field, poet Thomas Lux pictures Attila the Hun meeting Pope Leo I. Elsewhere in the journal, Sandra M. Gilbert offers an ekphrastic poem, “Gauguin, 'The Meal (The Bananas).'” As always, Field has several reviews of recent poetry collections. This issue includes Martha Collins’ review of Ailish Hopper’s Dark-Sky Society, and David Young’s review of Mark Strand’s Collected Poems. Young notes, regretfully, that his review was written, but had not yet been published, when Strand died.
Poet Lore, published by The Writer’s Center, is America’s oldest continuously published literary journal. Poets active in the local community are well represented in the current issue. They include Dan Vera, Maritza Rivera, Carlos Parada, Elizabeth Acevedo, Elizabeth Rees, Carmen Calatayud, Terence Winch, Heddy Reid, and Patricia Gray. We were also fortunate to partner with Letras Latinas, resulting in Pintura:Palabra, a portfolio of poems selected by Francisco Aragon. Poet Lore has always had an international outlook, with a particular interest in translation. This issue offers several of Maryam Ala Amjadi’s translations of Iranian poet Rira Abbasi.
Poets & Writers includes details on more than 65 contests for writers. This July/August issue has a very generous feature in which well-established writers introduce the summer’s best debut novelists. Several authors are interviewed in this section. Elliott Holt and Julia Pierpont discuss her debut novel, Among the Ten Thousand Things. Elsewhere, Tayari Jones interviews Angela Flournoy, author of The Turner House. Check out the issue for comments, and insightful conversations between several other novelists.
Gulf Coast always offers a nice combination of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The current issue includes a long section in which Natalie Diaz, Tarfia Faizullah, David Tomas Martinez, Roger Reeves, and Alan Shapiro talk about poetry and identity in America. It’s a very stimulating conversation, well worth reading.
That’s just a brief overview of some of what we have on the shelves right now. Please stop by and check out these and the many others journals.