We’re nearing the end of our three year journey—Virginia marks the 47th state we’ve visited on our Litmap Roadmap tour! Let’s join Sara Davis on this literary landscape expedition below.
Nicknamed “The Old Dominion,” Virginia is one of the oldest states and home to several long- established literary magazines – as well as some exciting new ones.
The license plates should say that Virginia is for literature lovers; residents of this state love a book party. Hosted by the Virginia Center for the Book and Virginia Humanities in the heart of this hilly state, the Festival of the Book draws ecstatic crowds to Charlottesville’s bookstores and cultural centers in March. Virginia is home to the Furious Flower Poetry Center, the nation’s first academic center for Black poetry and sponsor of the Furious Flower Poetry Prize for emerging poets. And while Virginia’s near neighbor is not quite a state, the Library of Congress National Book Festival takes place just over the border in Washington, DC.
In a state with such a long history of arts, humanities, and folk traditions, it is no surprise that there are dozens of literary magazines that make their home here. This list is just a sample of the publications—new and old, print and online—that Virginia has to offer.
Angel Rust is a queer-led magazine looking to publish exciting, challenging, and edgy work in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, with a particular interest in “transgressive or experimental short stories, strong-hearted essays or critiques, and radical poems in any form from writers with unique perspectives and an unshakable fearlessness.” The frequency of publication varies, but they aim to publish a selection of new writing online every month or every other month.
failbetter is a journal of literature and art from Richmond, VA and New York, NY. Frequency varies, but they publish original and personal fiction, poetry, and visual art online throughout the year.
Founded in 1998, Meridian publishes poetry and prose as well as author interviews, book reviews, photography, and artwork by both new and established writers, including Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Seamus Heaney. Work published in this magazine has appeared in collections including Best American Poetry, Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and New Stories from the South. Edited by MFA students at the University of Virginia, Meridian publishes one print issue a year.
phoebe has been publishing both experimental and conventional prose and poetry since 1971. Staffed by George Mason University students, the journal prides itself on supporting up-and-coming writers. phoebe publishes one print issue in fall/winter and one online issue in spring/summer each year; they also hold annual contests in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.
Established in 2002, Poetica Magazine is committed to publishing literary works of exceptional merit from both established and emerging writers, regardless of cultural or religious background. Their editors seek poetic works that “courageously acknowledge, challenge, and celebrate modern life, while embracing spirituality and exploring the divine.” Frequency varies, but the donation-funded magazine typically releases one or two issues per year that are free to read.
The Rappahannock Review is a literary journal that has been edited and published by students in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Mary Washington since 2013. The Rappahannock Review publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art and has recently started featuring audio. Frequency varies but they typically publish two or more issues a year.
Founded in 1967, Roanoke Review has established itself as a home for new and established authors writing in both traditional and experimental forms. They publish one issue per year, featuring poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, flash, photographic essay, graphic narrative, and visual poetry. They also host an annual eco-poetry contest.
So To Speak was founded as a feminist journal in 1993 by MFA students at George Mason University, and have evolved over the years to embrace intersectional feminism and amplify the perspectives of marginalized individuals. They welcome poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art that challenge and engage their editors. So To Speak typically publishes one online issue and one print issue per year.
Streetlight Magazine publishes poetry, fiction, memoir, and art from new and established writers.
Fun fact: the current editor-in-chief is also the founder of the Porches Writing Retreat in Norfolk, VA. Typically, Streetlight publishes four online issues per year and host several annual writing contests.
True to their name, Sublunary Review seeks dreamy poetry, fiction, and art: “We enjoy writing that’s dream-like but tactile—something that lets one feel the moonbeams between the fingertips.” Frequency varies by they typically publish a couple of online submissions per month.
VQR established itself as “a national journal of literature and discussion” when it was founded in 1925, and has been publishing high quality poetry, fiction, essays, and criticism ever since. With past contributors including the likes of Stephen King and Lydia Davis, the journal has racked up decades of National Magazine Awards, but they also seek and publish work from emerging writers. VQR typically publishes four print issues a year.
by Sara Davis