Litmag Roadmap: North Carolina

July 17, 2020

We’re headed down the coast to North Carolina in this month’s edition of our Litmag Roadmap. Buckle up and let’s hit the road. There’s plenty of sights to see and literary journals to read!

Welcome to North Carolina, the unabashed golden child of literary states. First off, it appears the state holds an unspoken rule to produce at least one literary magazine per major city. Next, UNC Greensboro—in collaboration with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the State Library of North Carolina— already compiled a robust and interactive literary map of its own. The North Carolina Humanities Council also keeps its own list of lit mags in case we missed any. And on top of that, the consortium of UNC libraries hosts an online exhibit of past literary magazines, should you be interested in a history lesson alongside adding to your submission queue this week. Consider this guide the “Sparknotes version” of what the Tar Heel State already offers to literary tourists, passersby, and long-term visitors alike.

Cold Mountain Review

While this university based magazine—published out of Appalachian State University’s English Department—has consolidated its 2019-2020 issues and staffing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still worth keeping an eye on for its possibly reopening in Fall 2020 and beyond. This is a lit mag that matches word with action: the Reaching Inside Project donates journal copies to organizations in need of literature, first and foremost prison libraries in hopes of giving voice and opportunity to incarcerated people.

Cave Wall Press

North Carolina’s scrappiest literary magazine only accepts mail-in submissions of poetry and art and promises to recycle unselected submissions. Respect.


You likely already know about Ecotone if you’ve picked up nearly any book in the “Best American” series—this magazine consistently contributes a handful of authors and pieces each year to this and other esteemed anthologies—or if Mother Earth plays a leading role in any of your narrative arcs. Originally based out of UNC Wilmington, Ecotone strives “to publish and promote the best place-based work being written today,” a mission it arguably archives. They publish two unthemed and one themed issue each year, plus a 24-hour-submission window on Valentine’s Day for first-time writers. What’s not to love?

The Sun

Known informally as “the lit mag I want to be when I grow up,” The Sun is hot stuff, pun absolutely intended. Beautiful in form, content, and organizational structure, it’s no surprise this publication has forty years under its belt, all independently run out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It also helps the okay-we’re-doing-something- that they pay up to two grand (!) for fiction, essays, and interviews (pitch them first for these).

The Phoenix

This students at Pfieffer University, this lit mag is hosted in and focused on showcasing work from Western North Carolina. The Phoenix is strictly an annual print journal—though it appears each student class lends its own thumbprint signature in the form of podcasts, blog features, social media blasts, and more. Check out their Emerging Writers Contest when it rolls around next year.

North Carolina Literary Review

Designed as a “companion to the North Carolina Historical Review,” this magazine—produced by East Carolina University—publishes articles and essays about the state alongside poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Their current call for submissions on the theme of healing closes on August 31—it’s worth doing a little digging to find your connection to the state and coming up with your own sort of written balm for today’s times.

The Raleigh Review

It really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? The Raleigh Review. Are you saying it out loud now too? Well stop talking and submit: They’re open to a lot of cool stuff right now, including flash fiction, multi-genre poetry, flash nonfiction (!!) and visual art. A standalone lit mag established ten years ago by an individual state school MFA student, this publication has become its own nonprofit and hosts a flurry of events and activities in the area.

Greensboro Review

What began as the lit mag for UNC Greensboro MFA students has evolved into a renowned journal publishing big names along emerging voices alike. Currently reading submissions for their annual Robert Watson prize, so submit by September 15 to be eligible for the $1000 cash prize and loads of esteem.

by Melissa Hinshaw


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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