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.
The Nervous Breakdown
Brad Listi, based in Los Angeles, is the founding editor and creator of The Nervous Breakdown (TNB), an influential, informative, and engaging online “culture” magazine and “literary collective” publishing since 2006, the same year that Listi published his first novel, Attention. Deficit. Disorder. Under its current editor, Jonathan Evison, TNB has more than 700 contributors and publishes original fiction, memoir, essays, political writing, poetry, interviews and book reviews. It also links to a podcast concerned with the practical matters of a literary life (“Otherppl with Brad Listi”); a monthly book club, the TNB Book Club; its own bookstore; and a micro-press, TNB Books. Listi, 39, has taught at Santa Monica College. He features some high-profile authors, but most are lesser-knowns (including, some while ago, this reviewer). The self-interviews are quirky and surprising: see poet Lauren Hilger and fiction writers Thalia Field and Tim Jones-Yelvington. On Otherppl’s separate site, Listi seeks support at levels of $3 (Gold), $10 (Diamond Gold), $20 (Cubic Zirconia) and $100 (Holy Fucking Shit) per month.
Over some years, Perpetual Folly is best known for author Clifford Garstang’s annual ranking of literary magazines, primarily useful to writers who seek excellence and the most influential exposure, regardless of payment or circulation. “I…rank magazines based solely on the number of Pushcart Prizes and Special Mentions the magazines had won over a ten year period,” he explains. “I chose the Pushcart Prize instead of the Best American series or the O. Henry Prize because it seems somewhat more transparent–magazine editors nominate in all genres, and the prizes and special mentions go to all kinds of small magazines (although online journals are still mostly ignored, which is a drawback.). I opted for a ten-year period because reputations don’t develop overnight, and it seemed to me that magazines do need to earn their places on the list with consistency over the years.” Garstang himself, a former lawyer, is the co-founder and former editor of Prime Number Magazine and a fiction writer with two collections (What The Zhang Boys Know and In An Uncharted Country). For 2017, Conjunctions, One Story, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Tin House, Zoetrope, Noon, and Ecotone Magazine top his list for fiction. For poetry, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Threepenny Review, Southern Review and Field are tops; and in non-fiction, Georgia Review, Orion, Sun, New Letters, Agni, American Scholar, Iowa Review, and Tin House. He also reviews single issues of different titles, selected books, and specific stories from the New Yorker. He is in the process of migrating Perpetual Folly into his author blog.
Sponsored by St. Petersburg College (FL) and edited by poet Daniel Lawless, Plume is “dedicated to publishing the very best of contemporary poetry” and offers 12 poems per monthly issue, as well as “reviews, criticism, and book notes by members of our staff.” The archive of issues dates back to July 2011, and their “store” section offers four print editions of The Plume Anthology of Poetry, an annual. Each monthly issue is editorially discerning and sophisticated, and open to different styles of poetry, though Lawless professes a special fondness for prose poetry. Poets featured in November 2016 include Tony Hoagland, Simon Armitage, William Logan, Gerald Stern, Denise Duhamel, and Linda Pastan; Pastan’s selection of new poems is accompanied by an in-depth interview by Nancy Mitchell, the associate editor for special projects. The review section is edited by Adam Tavel, and offers five mini-reviews of recent poetry collections from small and university presses. A list of contributors over the years amounts to a roll-call of contemporary poets (including WTP’s own Joyce Peseroff and John Skoyles). Subscriptions are free, and new issues are announced by email. The site’s motto (from Prevert’s French), “The garden remains open to those who love it,” suggests the kinship Plume serves to promote between poet and reader.
B O D Y
Edited in English from Prague, Czech Republic, B O D Y is dedicated to international poetry, fiction, essays, etc., and seeks to publish the “highest quality poetry and prose from emerging and established writers” and also “to showcase contemporary artworks and photography.” Their archive dates back to July 2012. The founding editors are Christopher Crawford, a poet, essayist, and translator; Joshua Mensch, a poet in Prague; and Stephan Delbos, poet and translator, who lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and travels to Prague. Others are Michael Stein, a Czech writer who edits their “Saturday European Series,” and Jan Zikmund, a Czech translator, who edited a recent special issue on Czech writing. They have also published a special UK/Irish issue. Though most of their writers are well-credentialed with publications and prizes, all but the American poets (Lawrence Raab, Richard Jackson, Jane Hirshfield, Peter Jay Shippy, John Yau, Dara Wier, Arthur Vogelsang, et. al.), and the Russian Osip Mandelshtam, are news to me. The art section features an interview with the painter Daniel Barkley from Montreal, whose images of the male body are jaundiced and striking. There are also sections for Picks, Performance Texts, and Letters. Overall, the editing is distinguished and the web design both classic and user-friendly. They respond to submissions within ninety days, and at present don’t offer payment.
A quarterly e-book literary journal begun in 2013, Tincture Journal features “fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction from Australia and the world.” Its aim “is to provide space for new and experienced writers to be published alongside each other in e-book form,” because they consider websites to be “annoying to read and print publications…expensive to produce.” The founding editor is Sydney-based fiction writer, Daniel Young, and the poetry editor is Stuart Barnes. A four-issue, e-pub subscription is $25 AUD and single issues $8, while the website offers interviews with selected contributors, free content from the current issue and back issues, and notes on current and past contributors along with links to their websites or works. An editorial by Kirby Fenwick, an assistant editor, endorses dissent as “the very act of writing and publishing and doing so at the margins—close to the edge of that precipice. We dissent by simply existing. We dissent by embracing complexity and messiness and experimentation. We dissent by refusing to leave the conversation regardless of how close we are to the edge. We dissent by ensuring that there will be another generation of writers and editors and that they’ll be damn good at what they do. We dissent and we do so even as the soil stains our skin and buries itself under our toenails. And as the world becomes ever more complex, that dissent becomes ever more important.” I applaud the passion, but wish the works I sampled delivered on it more.
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