Strap in your seatbelts, y’all: we’re headed to Northern California! There are so many wonderful journals and magazines in California that we needed to split the state into two. Check below for the great venues of the north, and check back in a couple weeks for our review of the south!
Northern California, home of the San Francisco Bay Area, may lead SoCal in technology, but the slight economic and business differences shouldn’t matter. Rich literary magazines can be found anywhere, and there are many options to discover. Sure, the debate of SoCal vs. NorCal will probably go on for years, but it’s probably more complex than one can imagine. For the sake of the final California blog boast, though, checking out some of the NorCal literary journals is a good reason to head north:
Berkley Fiction Review
Run by undergraduate students at University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley Fiction Review is their oldest prose journal. They look for pieces with fresh voices and imaginative form and content. They also do blind reading, which means an identifying information should be removed. They accept submissions via email year-round, and their 2021 Sudden Fiction Contest is only accepting flash fiction pieces until March 5.
The Pegasus Review
Since the Internet, hybrid and genre-specific journals have been on the rise. The Pegasus Review is one of those journals, combining the classic literary magazine with the medical journal. Founded in 2008 by physicians who loved writing at Stanford University, the journal emphasizes clinical storytelling and medical humanities. They look for nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and art about medicine and the impact of illness. Submissions are currently closed, so if you have a story to tell, keep checking.
580 Split began in 1998 at Mills College in Oakland. The name comes from the many highways surrounding Mills College. The journal moved to online publications in 2018. They’re currently closed for submissions, but their 2021 issue, Push Black, will explore fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art of Black resilience.
This journal publishes fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and art in print quarterly. They look for submissions that express interest in the environment, artistic spirit, freedom, and creativity from diverse voices. Submissions are accepted year-round, so if your work fits the West coast vibe, then look no further than Catamaran.
The Threepenny Review
This national, quarterly journal only offers a taste of their work online before the print version must be purchased. They’re one of the few magazines aimed at the general literary reader, publishing individuals since 1980. Submissions can be sent via the mail or online through their submission portal, and they must not be a simultaneous submission only from January to April. Anything in the later months will not be read. Genres can span fiction, memoirs, poems, and critical essays.
Yet another older magazine (established in 1985), ZYZZYVA‘s original goal was to publish West Coast writers and artists from all backgrounds. Now, they accept contributors from everywhere and distribute nationally. They focus on ethical concerns in themed issues, such as resistance. The print and online journal accepts poetry, nonfiction, interviews, and fiction. Submissions are closed temporarily due to the pandemic but will reopen soon.
It’s rare to find a journal dedicated only to poetry. The California State Poetry Society started publication of California Quarterly in 1972. There are four issues each year, and submissions are open throughout the whole year. There’s no restrictions of content, style, or theme. Poets also can submit to the monthly themed contests or the annual contest.
This magazine aspires to be a community space for writers, especially marginalized voices, to collaborate, think freely, and feel safe and included. Entropy accepts an extremely large range of diverse genres, from traditional forms such as poetry, essays, and reviews to music, science fiction, fantasy, translation, and much more. General submissions are open for all genres, but they also create calls based on specific topics.
by Rebecca Williamson