Sunday, September 13, 2009

Journal Experiments: Starting Again, and Again

I'm still energized by the Journal Experiments, and every time I return it is with wonder and amazement at just how useful/fruitful they are. For those of you unfamiliar with them, the original post is here, from a year ago. We examined some cool journals between then and now, but with the new faculty fiction-writing group starting last week, it's time to get into them again even more seriously.

This week's journal is The Missouri Review, a 30-year-old literary magazine based at the University of Missouri. It is extremely high on my list of must-subscribes, and I encourage anyone who is thinking about submitting to it to read back issues from the library to get a feel for it, and then subscribe as a way of supporting this amazing world.

The editor, Speer Morgan, is also a literary practitioner, with several novels, plus award-winning fiction in The Atlantic Monthly. I was struck by the fact that although -- as is customary -- his essay about this edition precedes the entries, he chose to list that essay at the end of the Contents. Hard to say if that was a deliberate nod to his authors to put them first, but it sure seemed that way and I liked it. Poetry editor for the summer '09 issue Katy Didden has a number of publication credits as well, and she is a doctoral student. The poetry editor listed on the website, Marc McKee, has a similar background.

Why do I pay attention to editors? Because I have a personal bias toward knowing who editors are and thinking about them as people with tastes and preferences before submitting to a journal. Usually the individual editors do not make all decisions (it tends to be more collaborative), but they are often the first readers of submissions. I admire editors, and I consider myself as an author an applicant for a position on their lists, not just someone saying "Hey you! Publish me!"

Journals are such little worlds. The Missouri Review is a spectacular one. I will soon add it and other much-loved literary magazines to the recommended list at the upper right of this blog. As I read this issue, I'll post more about contents.

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