Buckeye State, here we come! Ohio is our next stop on our Litmag roadmap, and I hope you’ve packed for a long trip, because there are so many great journals to look at!
The main things you need to know about Ohio are that it was home to the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” (before the collective heart of America took that title in 2020) and that it hosts a whole slew of literary magazines. That’s a joke, sorry. At the time of writing, Cedar Point is re-opening safely, so don’t miss that if Ohio does land on your actual road trip list should you dare crawl out of quarantine and into your Sprinter van knockoff in the near future. Not ready for that level of action just yet? No problem at all, because these eleven outstanding literary magazines are ready for you 24/7, pandemic or no, whether you prefer to read your cares away or submit until your heart’s content.
Imagine being such an esteemed journal that you only need to open submissions for two weeks out of the year. Those of us who missed this year’s Sept 15 – Oct 1 window can block it off on our calendars for next year and get to work. KR remains open—albeit extremely competitively—to book reviews, along with individual contests in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry throughout the year. Enjoy a wealth of high-quality content online in the meantime, and perhaps put one of their renowned workshops (including translation and young science writing!) on your post-pandemic bucket list.
Affiliated with Antioch College (not to be confused with Antioch University in Los Angeles, California, who publishes the lit mag Lunch Ticket) and celebrating over 75 years of publishing “the best words in the best order,” this review is a forward thinker that rolls old school. They still only accept snail mail submissions, so get that SASE ready! If you need a quick heart-warmer, just look over their homepage suggestion to read to someone during “these trying times”—the first responder bit sent actual tears careening out of my tearducts.
A 20-year-old lit mag based out of the University of Wooster with an impressive roster of past contributing authors, AD is currently undergoing some administrative and vision changes and not open to submissions. However, their considerate and thorough explanation of these changes —plus the busy-beaver vibes of staff past and present—suggests they’re worth subscribing to and bookmarking for when the next submission window opens. Fun bonus Easter egg: their Forged Letters section imagines the likes of Poe and Dickens writing to and about their magazine.
Named as a tongue-in-check reference to its host, The Ohio State University (you have to say it like that—THEE Ohio State…. THEE Journal), this lit mag publishes diverse work in diverse fashion: two online editions and two in print each year. There’s something for everyone, including plenty to read and catch up on while you await their yes or no (they’re adjusting, like many of us, to a new pandemic rhythm—submissions are open, but no response time is promised and patience is requested).
Cool name, right? Does it refer to a) an island in a lake of whiskey b) an island on which there is plenty of whiskey, or c) a sweet lit mag based out of Cleveland State University, which resides on a former island (now peninsula) that was once home to a nineteenth-century distillery? If you guess C but enjoyed thinking about A and B, then you are super right! They appear to be on hiatus despite a submission window that usually ends November 15, but wasn’t that all fun to learn about?
Are you tired of reading about cancellations and postponements online and too tired to figure out how to buy stamps and manila envelopes and just want to click on something you can submit a story to right now already? Then look no further than Ohio University’s New Ohio Review! Submissions at NOR are open and waiting for you. Lots of cool, quick stuff to get your juices flowing on their online version as well.
A relatively new publication (begun in 2003 out of the University of Cincinnati), this review is a rolling stone—it’s gained significant esteem in a short amount of time and is maintaining momentum despite the 2020 odds. Open for submissions between September and January, fall is the perfect time to submit. Their weekly online flash series miCRo is really worth checking out as a reader, and open to submissions on an ongoing basis as well.
Another lit mag that’s on hiatus due to 2020 shufflings but worth paying attention to due to a) free submissions b) their upcoming online winter writing festival and c) a brief history of doing art contests in response to published writing pieces, which is cool as heck. Published out of Bowling Green State University.
An independent publication / labor of love based out of Dayton, Ohio that seeks to integrate with the community beyond computer screens and magazine pages. We really dig their “Words From Home” virtual poetry series, a response to shelter-in-place. Submissions are currently open via email through November 6 of this year.
A lit mag published by the literary nonprofit Literary Cleveland (a super cool community effort, click around), GSQ is open twice a year to poetry and prose submissions from writers all over the world—but asks that Northeast Ohio writers make a special note in their cover letter about their hometown status. Cool bonus feature: every editor selects one piece of writing from each submission period and works with the author in a mentorship program to sharpen and revise the piece for publication.
Last but definitely not least, this publication has a bumpy history proving its tenacity and drivenness: 1931 to 1967, then re-started in 1989 but closed again in 2000, had a brief but fiery reprise from 2014-2016, and has been back at it since March 2019. With ties to quite a few big names in American literature—and a name that symbolizes what we writers are all very literally in pure pursuit of—it doesn’t seem that anything, not even a pandemic, could realistically knock Story out of publication forever. Published triannually, they just opened their 2020 Story Foundation Prize—so get off the internet and get after it already.
by Melissa Hinshaw