Next up on our trip around the country: Iowa! Land of corn, birthplace of John Wayne, blacked out from six MLB teams, and home to some incredible literary outlets!
Iowa may seem like a lonely place, but many a writer has been attracted to the quiet of endless cornfields. The state is home to one of the most renowned writing programs in the country. The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop has been turning out prize winning authors the way the rest of the state produces blue-ribbon pigs for over eighty years. So, it’s only fitting that we take a stop on our road trip to check out these excellent Iowa litmags!
Having recently turned fifty, this juggernaut is not slowing down. Pieces published here regularly go on to appear in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays, Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and more. With a contemporary and literary aesthetic, they look for the finest in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by both new and established writers. In addition to an open reading period from Sept.-Nov., TIR holds multiple yearly contests.
This fiercely independent online journal publishes sharp, short, and evocative writing on a rolling basis. With a unique pay-what-you-can subscription policy, Sequestrum produces high-quality issues featuring fantastical visual art, tightly formed poetry, and prose across a wide range of styles. Their number one requirement is concise writing, be it in poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. This is also a rare market for reprints.
Still in its infancy, this magazine produced by students at the University of Iowa is currently working on its third issue. But they’ve already produced some eclectic and experimental writing in both print and online. With a focus on shorter works, particularly flash, they accept fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Established as an offshoot of chapbook publisher Port Yonder Press, Eastern Iowa Review is another relatively new journal with a focus on lyricism. They are particularly interested in prose poems and lyric essays, but are also open to regular fiction and nonfiction so long as the writing has a strong focus on language. Several of their calls are themed and they also offer yearly prizes in each of their genre categories.
It should come as no surprise that this journal balances on the brink when it comes to both form and content. A home for all things experimental, hybrid, and otherwise outside the artistic mainstream, Brink promotes collaboration across disciplines and cultures. A biannual journal, they have two month-long reading periods a year for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Originally founded in Boston, North American Review has been housed at the University of Northern Iowa since 1968. This well-respected magazine is one of the oldest literary journals in the country and has featured writing by such heavyweights as John Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe, and Flannery O’Conner. Don’t let this intimidate you though. They publish plenty of emerging writers, particularly in their online format. They are open for submissions of fiction and poetry during the academic year and are particularly interested in pieces that relate to current issues, such as climate and race.
Guesthouse was founded by two MFA candidates at the University of Iowa as they approached the end of their student life and wondered how to continue fostering their creative passion in a larger community. And so, they fashioned “a panoply of modern writing.” With a sleek, black and white design this journal accepts fiction, nonfiction, and poetry ranging from traditional to hybrid. They also feature two pieces a month on their Houseguest blog that have been previously published in print but have not appeared online.
by B.B. Garin