By Dewitt Henry, Literary Bookmarks Editor
Monthly link highlights to online resources, magazines, and author sites that seem informative and inspiring for working writers. Most are free. Suggestions are welcomed.
New Pages is a long-established, attractively designed and well-organized portal to the world of independent literary presses and magazines, both print and online, as well as to creative writing programs, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more. Founded and edited by Casey Hill and Denise Hill, the site includes a webstore with the current issues of 30 featured magazines (such as Upstreet, Mudfish, Fiddlehead, and Southern Humanities Review), in-depth reviews of magazines and books, classifieds, and writers’ resources (including a searchable, comprehensive guide to independent and university book publishers as well as a guide to writing conferences, undergraduate writing programs, and graduate writing programs).
They also offer a weekly blog and newsletter with brief reviews of recent lit mag issues, noteworthy new books, cover picks of the week, prize winners, and exclusive interviews with editors, publishers, and writers. One of the essential, and best-curated, sites of information for writers and readers on the net.
Open Culture is an educational and cultural treasure, since 2006 offering 1,200 free online courses, more than 1000 MOOCs, 1,150 free movies, 700 free audio books, and 800 free eBooks, etc. Comparable to Project Gutenburg, it is the net version of a global scale free library or museum. The literature offerings include lectures by Garber and Bloom on Shakespeare; courses on contemporary literature, Creative Reading, Creative Writing, the Literature of Crisis and more; recordings of T.S. Eliot, Plath, Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, Anne Sexton, and David Foster Wallace; and famous writers’ syllabi and writing tips (there are also extensive offerings in art books and images to interest WTP readers). The site also offers a weekly RSS/email newsletter and a searchable archive. Its editor is Dan Colman, the Director and Associate Dean of Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program.
Electric Literature and Catapult Magazine
Electric Literature and Catapult Magazine are independent entities both founded by Andy Hunter, a CUNY-Brooklyn MFA with a West Coast marketing background. EL (2009–) also partners with Grove/Atlantic in producing LitHub, which I’ve previously recommended; boasts of promoting “extraordinary writing;” and aspires, at least, “to reach an audience of millions” (to my knowledge the only avowed literary publication to accomplish that is the NYT Book Review).
The design of EL is flashy and splashy, a.k.a “contemporary.” Seeking to keep “literature part of popular culture,” recent features seem more cultural than literary. Their site is delivered by Medium (which I only partially understand, see this article). Key tabs lead to departments for:
- Their membership package, which boasts access to their archives and other benefits for a low monthly fee
- Scuttlebutt, a blog by Ted Wilson, reviewing the World
- Essays, such as “How To Suppress Women’s Criticism” by Carmen Marie Machada and a wonderful video essay, “Map Inset: Kansas,” by Merrill Feitell
- Recommended Reading, “the weekly fiction magazine” that “in addition to featuring our recommendations of original, unpublished fiction” includes recommendations by invited established authors of “great works” from various literary magazines (such as an excerpt from Nadia by Brit Bennett)
- Okey-Pankey, a weekly section which includes poems, fiction, essays, and comics. While diverting, little here impressed me as particularly salient.
Catapult Magazine, on the other hand, is an offshoot of a new book publishing company, and “conceptually mirrors the ecosystem in which writers and creatives exist right now,” according to Hunter. The CEO of Catapult books is daughter of the billionaire Charles Koch. Hunter is the publisher and co-founder, Pat Strachan is editor-in-chief, and the web editor is Yuka Igarashi, the former managing editor of Granta. The website publishes short fiction and essays, graphic pieces, and stories told in multimedia. A Community section works like Fictionaut and Zoetrope (reviewed here earlier); where writers self-publish, then recommend each other’s stories. Web editors choose from the most popular works and pay the selected writers. Catapult also offers focused writing classes, such as Short Story Master Class, Fiction Master Class, How to Craft a Voice, and Open-Genre Workshop: How to be Funny, Seriously; these meet online and in their NYC offices.
Brevity is one of the most respected showcases of creative nonfiction on the web. Brevity has been appearing regularly, three or four issues per year, for nearly twenty years. Founded by Dinty Moore, editor, author of ten books, and an Ohio University professor, it publishes essayists working in brief form (750 words or less), along with craft essays and book reviews. Emerging writers appear alongside the established and award-winning, Americans alongside international writers. The current special issue, #53, examines “lived experiences of Race, Racism, and Racialization.” Tasteful, handsome graphics enhance the essays. The Brevity Blog, which is delivered by email “less than five times a year,” recently features such articles as: “Election2016: On Experience vs. the Essay” and “The Art of the Interview.” An archive of past essays and craft discussions is organized under a wide variety of headings. The site reports that in the past year, Brevity had 10,000 hits per month, while the blog has more than 20,000 subscribers.
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