Playing Catch-Up: Nonfiction News

February 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

The whole staff went to Switzerland last week, lolled along the beach in Lake Geneva in the fine warm weather, and ate raclette in the back of stretch limousines.  That was fun of a sort, but we have been neglecting the blog, so here are some things we missed:

Ploughshares expands the Emerging Writer Competition to include three genres.


THE STATE, a journal and sociohistorical forum investigating the space between print and audio-visual experiences and their transition to mediated online forms, welcomes submissions around the theme of ‘Voicings/Articulations/Utterances,’ and encourage experimentation with form, transmedia, and (web)site-specific installations.


Six writing professors, including Brevity editor Dinty W. Moore, respond on Huffington Post to Anis Shivani’s trolling attacks on the teaching of creative writing.




Which Magazines Earn the Most Pushcart Prizes in Nonfiction?

October 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

For the first time, Clifford Garstang has added nonfiction to his annual listing of literary magazines ranked by numbers of Pushcart Prizes and Special Mentions. He discusses the process below, with links to his full list:

Several years ago, wanting to be systematic about my short fiction submissions to literary magazines, I came up with the idea of ranking magazines based solely on the number of Pushcart Prizes and Special Mentions they had received. The ranking, I imagined, would give me an idea of the relative strength of the magazines and help me decide where to send my work. I analyzed ten years of Pushcart Prize anthologies, applied a simple formula (so many points for each Prize, so many for a Special Mention), and generated the list, which I then published on my blog, Perpetual Folly.

The list attracted a lot of attention, and so the next year when the new volume came out I updated the ranking. I didn’t look at other anthologies such as Best American Short Stories or the O. Henry Prize because it seemed to me that the magazines from which Pushcart draws represent a broader cross-section of the publishing world. And I didn’t consider any other factors—reputation, payment, circulation—because I wanted to keep the data simple, objective, and verifiable.
Friends and readers of my blog have asked me over the years to do the same thing with the poetry and nonfiction Pushcart Prizes, and finally this fall I began that analysis. The result for nonfiction is now posted on my blog: 2011 Nonfiction Pushcart Prize Ranking. (Poetry will be coming in early 2012.) The list covers the period 2002-2011 and will be updated with 2012 data when the new volume arrives in November. There were some surprises.

Ploughshares, which dominates the Fiction Ranking, is 20th on the Nonfiction Ranking. Georgia Review tops the Nonfiction Ranking by a wide margin, but isn’t in the Top Ten in Fiction. Orion, a beautiful magazine that many fiction writers have never heard of, is second on the Nonfiction Ranking and would be first if we looked only at the last five years. As with my Fiction Ranking, I stress that this is not an attempt to judge absolute quality. For one thing, online magazines are vastly underrepresented in the Pushcart anthologies and there are many fine magazines online. For another, I am in no position to judge the quality of the hundreds of magazines that are published. I have simply created lists that are useful to me and that I believe others may find to be a handy guide to the markets for short fiction and essays. I’ve done it for my own edification and I’m happy to share it with others.


Clifford Garstang is the author of a collection of linked short stories, In an Uncharted Country (Press 53, 2009), and a novel-in-stories, What the Zhang Boys Know (forthcoming from Press 53, September 2012).

On Genuine Literary Citizenship

September 26, 2011 § 5 Comments

We’ve talked in the past about literary citizenship: the importance of giving back to the world of journals, books, and other literary venues if you hope eventually to thrive within that world. Author/editor Matt Bell, interviewed by Ploughshares, reminds us again, clearly and articulately:

I think the big mistake most writers make is thinking that becoming involved in your community is something you do after your book is published. Instead, I urge writers to become involved as early as possible, in a genuine, non-book-related way. It’s always a little off-putting when a person suddenly becomes interested in book review venues only once they have their own book. In a similar way, it seems false to only be interested in independent bookstores when you’re trying to get your own book stocked. The better solution is, as a part of your daily work as a writer, support the communities you wish to be a part of, by reading books, writing reviews, promoting other writers or bookstores or whatever in your social networking. It’s a small but old truth, but the more you give, the more you will receive. And this isn’t any kind of slimy networking. This is every writer’s responsibility, and the writers who create the most buzz for the good work of others will find that same energy waiting for them, when their own excellent book finally comes out.

Bell’s full interview is well worth reading.

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