The Last Frontier, the Land of the Midnight Sun: Pack your parkas, we’re headed north to Alaska! It’s quite the trek, but assistant editor Melissa Hinshaw has brought the map. Learn more about a few of the great literary magazines that call Alaska home:
There are a lot of things to say about The Last Frontier but Johnny Horton says (er, sings) it best: North! While it’s not uncommon for the occasional writer to end up doing a summer stint on a crabbing boat or cruising the Inner Passage with grandparents or family, the best insight and experiences comes from those who have spent seasons on end or even entire generations detached from the continental U.S. Four key publications, each specializing in a distinct demographic, make sure no voice goes unheard, no matter how many miles span the distance between.
Permafrost hails as the northernmost literary journal for both literature and the arts. Published out of the University of Alaska Fairbanks MFA program, this mag holds an Annual Book Contest that rotates between fiction, nonfiction, and poetry each year — giving you no excuse whatsoever to not submit next time your genre of choice rolls around! As promised by the constantly melting-thawing-refreezing connotations that their name suggests, Permafrost is also open to hybrid works (“We like it weird and we hate boundaries, which is why we live in Alaska”, state the editors).
This journal is an all-volunteer quarterly published to ensure that women’s voices get heard — even from the farthest, coldest, and sometimes darkest corners of the planet. Bonus: they’re hosting an impressive array of live events during COVID-19, so stay tuned to their Facebook page for social distancing from the people who do distance best.
Cirque expands state boundaries to include the entire North Pacific Rim in their regional designation, including not only Alaska but also Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Yukon Territory, Alberta, British Columbia, and Chukotka in its sphere of arts and writing. And it’s serious about that sphere: submitters need to have been born in, currently reside in, or once lived in one of these places for “not less than 5 years” to be eligible for publication. While your travel log must identify as such, your writing need not, however — “Cirque submissions are not restricted to a regional theme or setting.” This echoes Cirque’s well-held value that the imagination can go anywhere even when residence is limited. Lastly, the annual Andy Hope Literary Award celebrates the life of an influential Alaska native political activist and writer by continuing to promote future like minded artists.
AQR has all the class of Paris Review and all the guts of the 55th parallel. Not afraid to lead the conversation on racism or showcase diverse voices — whether from Alaska-based Native Peoples or from afar — AQR demonstrates an intense equilibrium of professionalism and boundaries-pushing. The child of a partnership between the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Center for the Narrative and Lyric Arts, this publication supports pursuit of traditional forms (even plays!) while still encouraging new and emerging styles. If you can score a publication here, it’ll feel almost as well-earned as if you’d trekked across the Land of the Midnight Sun yourself.
by Melissa Hinshaw