Join us on the road into the Midwest! We’re stopping off this week in Missouri, home of the Gateway Arch and Busch Beer. Join B.B. Garin on a tour of the state’s literary magazines below!
A truly eclectic mix of historical figures have called Missouri home; Harry Truman, Jesse James, Dick van Dyke, and Chuck Berry. The first ice cream cone was invented here, supposedly when a vendor at the St. Louis World’s Fair ran out of cups. Just imagine what we’d be missing if he’d been better prepared! Just as impactful are the literary greats born in the “Show Me” State. Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder were both heavily influenced by their early years in Missouri, making this an ideal stop on our litmag road trip!
Born in the 70s, River Styx was created when some witty, free-spirited folks started jamming together and sharing poetry in their St. Louis apartments. A few years later the first issue appeared hot off a lithographic press. From these humble beginnings, the biannual magazine has reached an international audience and become a consistent award-winner. Seeking work that sits up and grabs you, they accept submissions of poetry, prose, and short plays.
This well-regarded publication was originally founded in NYC, moved to Philadelphia, and finally settled down in scenic St. Louis. It has featured work by Jennifer Egan, Alice Hoffman, and Joyce Carol Oates to name a few. But they also consistently publish incisive, thoughtful contemporary writing from emerging authors. Submissions are open from Nov.-May for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.
In association with Boulevard, the M.F.A. students at University of Missouri-St. Louis produce the online journal Natural Bridge. Though currently on hiatus, this has been a great venue for emerging writers with many pieces going on to become award winners.
Declaring themselves “a literary legacy since 1958” might sound a little pompous, but december has earned it. After all, they were the first magazine to publish Raymond Carver! Founded in Iowa City, the magazine has remained on the forefront of the literary community by always producing the freshest prose and poetry, often from little known writers. In fiction and nonfiction, they look for engaging stories, possessing the urgency of something that needs to be told. Their poetry tends toward the imaginative and energetic. They do not accept simultaneous submissions. However, every piece is read by at least two editors and they sometimes provide feedback on pieces they would like to see revised and resubmitted.
This bright, provocative publication is based at the University of Missouri. In four vividly designed issues every year they present stylish, contemporary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction pieces, which often go on to appear in anthologies. They run three contests a year, as well as maintaining an online fiction feature and “Poem of the Week” column. The magazine also relies on an intensive internship program for its production, providing in-depth training for those hoping to enter the publishing field.
Originally The University Review published by the University of Kansas City, this venerable magazine is fast approaching its hundredth birthday. Like its brethren in this writer friendly state, New Letters has published work by literary heavyweights and seen many of its pieces anthologized. One of the first journals to offer awards of their own, their annual contests remain well respected. General submissions are rolling and tend to favor more traditional work in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, though they also accept longer pieces including novellas and chapbooks.
With a unique aesthetic that strives to present “literature in context”, Pleiades publishes pieces that question the world at large and our place in it twice a year. They have two brief submission windows in Dec. and June, when they accept poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Additionally, they are always open to submissions of book reviews. They favor writing that is lyrical and immersive without being overly internalized. Particularly, in nonfiction they tend to shy away from memoir, preferring pieces that focus outward and capture something unique in the human experience.
Both these magazines are published through Southeast Missouri State University. Big Muddy is published twice a year in print and prefers pieces with a connection to areas bordering the Mississippi River, though it is not a requirement. Also in print, The Cape Rock is an annual publication of poetry. Both seek bold, resonating work in a variety of styles. Big Muddy in particular enjoys publishing interdisciplinary work.
by B.B. Garin