Paper Dreams

September 10, 2013 § 3 Comments

paper-dreams-front-210x300In tandem with the launch of the new anthology, Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine, compiled and Edited by Travis Kurowski, Atticus Books has hosted a discussion with Richard Peabody, Steve Himmer, Roxane Gay, Dave Housley, Kelly Forsythe, Jen Michalski, and Jessica Poli on the subject of what lit mags can be and how they can prosper.

We think it is an excellent discussion (and not just because they are kind enough to mention Brevity.)  Here is an excerpt followed by a full link:

Dave Housley:  As a writer, I think you need to curate your own career, meaning you should be looking at the magazines that are publishing the writing you’re interested in. Where is that conversation happening? That’s where I think you want to be focused.

That might be Asimov’s or Ellery Queen or PANK or Diagram or Smokelong or Brevity. Wherever that conversation is, those are the top whatever number magazines for you at that particular moment. That’s what I always tell people in my writing workshops, at least: you can send your stuff out to The New Yorker, but especially if you’re just starting out, you should probably be looking in different places. The community you’re looking to join isn’t the Jonathan Franzen/Joyce Carol Oates community. It’s one that’s happening in a lot of different places, depending on where you are in your writing. I think if you’re smart, and really engaged and looking at this in the best possible way, then finding these places is like a life raft and it can really help carry you along.The New Yorker is not going to be your life raft, but maybe Atticus or PANK or Barrelhouse can be.

I used to play basketball, and I think about writing in the same way: if I’m looking to improve my game, I’m not hoping to hop in and play with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, or anybody in the best possible league in the world. I want to find people who are working at the same things I’m working at, who are maybe a little further along and better than me, and that’s the game I’m going to try to join.

Link to Six Degrees Left: Loving Lit Mags (Part One)

Is the Pushcart Unplugged?

January 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

Travis Kurowski offers up a compelling critique of The Pushcart Prize – Best of the Small Presses 2012 over at Luna Park.  Travis, as we do, values all of the work Bill Henderson has put into the series over the years, but worries about a bias against online work:

The problem was the severe limitation of the anthology’s scope, an anthology ostensibly offering up the “Best of the Small Presses.” This is a shortcoming most significantly represented by Henderson’s disparagement of any and all online and electronic publishing venues. (Only one online publication was chosen from for this 2012 anthology.)


When the Pushcart Prize began in 1976 it was the anti-establishment (for lack of a better word). Anais Nin, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Newman, and Ishmael Reed were all prominent supporters from its inception. Maybe today things have changed? Not only are electronic and online publications nearly missing, but so are most cutting edge literary magazines and presses—Conjunctions and n+1 are about as avant garde as it seems to get this year. The anthology begins with work by Steven Millhauser and John Jeremiah Sullivan, two stunning authors, but also ones we can easily find in the glossies. Most of the publications with work chosen from them are largely mainstream, lit mag industry staples: Georgia Review, Harvard Review, New Letters, New England Review, Poetry, Third Coast, Tin House, and so forth. Again, these are largely great magazines; what’s lacking in the anthology is greater diversity and real coverage of the best being published in the indie presses.

Of course I’ll buy next year’s anthology, and the following year, and the year after that. And if I run into Henderson I’ll try to remember to introduce myself and thank him for all the great work he’s done for literature over the decades. The Pushcart anthologies are overall great publications, probably the best out there for representing and promoting what’s going in indie literature. I’m just hoping for a bit more electricity in the future.

You can read his full post here.

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